People

The population of Qatar is approximately 900,000 people. They are predominantly Islamic, although due to the vast oil and petrochemical industry numerous expatriates from other Asian countries and Europe are permanently located in the country. The main language spoken is Arabic, although English and Persian are also widely spoken. Qatar has an impressively disproportionate sex ratio with 3.5 men per woman, since most of its permanent residents are workers in the factories or contractors who moved to the state without their family members. The vast majority of foreigners live in the capital city of Doha. In the past, Qataris consisted of several nomadic tribes forming small and temporary settlements in different parts of the state.

Geography

Qatar is an Arab emirate situated on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East. It is a rather small state jutting 100 miles north into the Persian Gulf. It consists of immense plains of sand and sand dunes. It is a relatively flat country, with the highest peak reaching about 105 meters. The winters are mild and the summers are quite hot and humid, with humidity levels of more than 85% every day.

History

Qatar has a long and rich history, mostly due to its strategic location. It managed to transform from a small and unimportant British protectorate to a significant oil power, producing a large part of the world oil resources. After the long lasting domination of the Ottomans, the British Empire took over, staying for centuries. Qatar became an independent country in 1971 and grew to be one of the most important and influential states in the world. According to the International Monetary Fund, today Qatar holds the highest gross domestic product per capita in the world, followed by Luxembourg. Qatar is also home to the famous Al Jazeera TV station.

Famous Attractions

Among the numerous famous attractions of the area is the Khor Al Urdeid. It is located at the southeastern part of the country-state and is world-renowned for its natural beauty. It is a wide area featuring immense sand dunes that surrounds an inlet of the Gulf. No roads lead to the area and only off-road vehicles can actually reach the desert. It is worth visiting though. Al Wakra is also one of the major tourist attractions in the area, situated very close to Doha. It is a picturesque port, although now it is under reconstruction.

Doha is of course the main tourist attraction in the area. The capital city of Qatar is known among travelers and tourists for the immense golf and tennis facilities. Al-Corniche is the stunning seafront featuring some of the most modern and elegant buildings in the area. The Grand Mosque is impressive, featuring numerous domes, while the Abu Bakir Mosque is well known in the entire Muslim World. The northern part of the city features the most historic sites, like the Salal Mohammed, the village that boasts of a 19th century settlement and fort.

Souq Waqif, also situated close to Doha, is a lovely place to visit. It used to be a gathering point for animals and herds, but today it is a developed tourist area that reminds everyone of the origins of the nomadic tribes of Qatar. An excursion to Souq is a trip through history and tradition. The Museum of Islamic Art, located in the capital city, is considered to be one of the most important museums in the world, featuring the largest collection of findings and exhibits from the Islamic World and Religion.

Nightlife

Qatar is not known for its nightlife, especially due to the strict Muslim laws. Visitors are not allowed to drink or hold a drink outside dining outlets. Doha is the only place that features some nightclubs and bars. Well-established hotels with international presence offer a larger variety of options such as jazz evenings and live bands. There are a few bars in the city, mostly owned by Europeans. There are also a few cinemas and theatres showing English movies and plays performed in English. There is a very useful city guide, the Marhaba, which is the best information guide for plays, movies and everything else that happens in the city.

Culture

Rich Arabian culture combined with Western elements and a large dose of elegance and wealth; this is how the culture in Qatar can be described. Travelers who visit the country can notice right away the effort people there are taking to present a more modern look, trying to blend their roots and traditions with Western influences. Money is not an issue in Qatar, and this is more obvious in events organized in the city of Doha, the cultural hub of the country.

Cuisine

Qatar features rather unlimited options for food, offering both Oriental and international flavors. From excellent European cuisine in elegant settings to simple, traditional culinary selections; everything goes in Qatar, especially in the tourist friendly places like Doha. The numerous international hotels also offer a varied selection of dining outlets. The Marriott, the Ramada or Hilton can cater to both individuals and business groups.

Indian and Pakistani foods are also considered to be very popular in the region, although Thai cuisine and the Middle Eastern cuisine options are endless everywhere. Hummus, kebabs and pita breads can beguile every Westerner. For those who are not into exploring local or Eastern flavors though, there are Western fast food chains as well, such as McDonalds. For those who are not aware; the McArabia burger became available in Qatar first.