Journaling The Journey

Qatar – 12 Interesting Things

Bear at Hamad Airport in Doha Qatar

Now that the FIFA World Cup is decided in Qatar, the party may be over.  But is it?

Qatar continues to shine with it’s opulent and very impressive capital of Doha.  In addition this peninsula has a deep golden desert and warm shallow waters with sandy beaches located in the north east.

And the shopping:  Doha has some of the craziest purchasing opportunities in the world – if you like that kind of stuff.

Read on to find out some other interesting things about this country.

1. Who Owns London?

Many know that Qatar is considered the richest country in the world.  Deep petroleum reserves have provided this small country with this distinction.  And one can see it in the varied, ultra modern skyline of it’s capital, Doha.

However, did you know that Qatar has been purchasing large parts of London, England? Its portfolio includes, but is not limited to, the Shard, Harrods, Chelsea Barracks and the Olympic Village, as well as a stake in Canary Wharf.

In addition, the Qatari Royal Family has substantial interests in the following London hotels:  the Ritz, the Connaught, the InterContinental Park Lane, the Savoy, the Berkeley and Claridge’s just to name a few.  Luxury is certainly the Qatari brand!

2. Safest Country in the World

This country is considered the safest in the world, year after year.  This is based on the Numbeo Crime Index.  In 2022, it scored a low 13.78 for crime and a high of 86.22 for safety.

I must say that we felt very safe walking, hiking and running through this country!

3. 88% of People in Qatar are Foreigners

Only 12% of people living in Qatar are actually from the country. Folks from India, Egypt and the Philippines dominate the list.  Our lovely Uber drivers were mostly from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

We had so many interesting conversations about our experiences in their home countries.

4. 9th Flattest Country in the World

We land in Doha often and have marveled at how flat the city and country seem to be.  Well, the highest point in the country is 103 meters (338 ft), making it the ninth flattest country in the world.  However the average elevation is much lower – 28 meters (92 ft).

Due to climate change Qatar is not just vulnerable to temperature increases. Its topography – a flat peninsula with huge developments on reclaimed land – makes it one of the Arab countries most at risk from sea-level rise.

5. No Income Tax

There is no tax on personal income in Qatar. This means that employees take home their wages and salaries without any tax deducted.

Can you believe that?! In most western countries that means at least 40% more in take home pay.

6. Women’s Rights and Opportunities

Women in Doha
Women in front of FIFA statue

Unfortunately, there is no law prohibiting gender discrimination in the workplace in Qatar. In addition, laws ban women from jobs broadly defined as dangerous or inappropriate. Sadly, women also must seek permission from a male guardian to work in the government and special institutions.

Females do make up 51% of the workforce which is higher than the world average.  However, check out #10 and you will see how few women there really are in this country!

In addition, at 93.5%, female literacy is almost on par with men (94.7%).  And at least in 1999 they have gained the right to vote.

7. Top 10 for Expats

Shopping in Doha
Villagio Mall – which is made to look like Venice

HSBC’s Expat Explorer has listed Qatar as one of the top 10 places for expats to live and work.

According to the global study, which surveyed over 20,000 people who live and work abroad, about 80 percent of the respondents in Qatar feel that their overall quality of life has improved since moving to the country.

More than two thirds (70 percent) of expats here also feel optimistic about the year ahead despite the volatility of the past 18 months.

8. LGBTQ Rights

Same-sex sexual activity is prohibited in Qatar which criminalises acts of “sodomy” and “sexual intercourse’”between people of the same sex (their Penal Code “terminology” not mine). These provisions carry a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment. Both men and women are criminalized under this law.

The Constitution of Qatar designates Islam as the state religion, and Islamic law as the main source of legislation. As such, in addition to the Penal Code, Qatar operates an interpretation of Sharia law which criminalizes sexual activity between men, under which it is possible that the death penalty can be imposed.

Clearly FIFA has not lived up to it’s values and has abandoned the LGBTQ community of Qatar.  I hope this changes and soon.

In this Time article the writer ends with hope for the rights of LGBTQ people of this country.  We concur!

9. 10 Islands

The Pearl Island Qatar Doha
The Pearl Island

Did you know that Qatar has 10 islands? Not many know about the islands around Qatar’s coast, both natural and man-made. Some of these islands are uninhabited while the others can be easily visited by tourists and offer a variety of activities.

While in Doha, we visited The Pearl which is a man made island made to look like a string of pearls from above.  The whole area is designed to resemble a mini Venice with various residences, cafes and shops.

10. 3 to 1

According to the census there are 3 men to 1 woman in Qatar.  Why?  Well, in a country of about 2.7 million people, there are about 740,000 women.  Perhaps this is why the employment numbers for women are so good:

This imbalance can be attributed to Qatar’s sudden population explosion: this is a state built by immigrants, who are overwhelmingly young and male.

11. Cats and Dogs of the Island

Cats of Doha Qatar
The many homeless and sometimes “dumped” cats of Doha

It is tough to be a homeless cat or dog in this country.  The temperatures, especially in the summer get up to 50 C.  With no food, shelter or water not many survive.  There have been some horrible incidents of animal cruelty, yet there are no laws to protect these helpless animals.

When we visited the many beautiful parks of the city we encountered many homeless cats.  We met up with a local family at the park whose children were playing with the cats.  The parents openly told us that they used to have a cat, yet she got pregnant and so they drove her to the local park and left her there.

We tried not to gasp.  They continued to tell us that this happens all the time and is the culture in the country.

There is a wonderful rescue in Qatar called Paws Rescue Qatar.  They are doing the work of angels trying to provide food, shelter veterinary care and new homes to the abandoned animals of Qatar.

12. Hamad Airport Named Best Again

Hamad Airport
Hamad Airport Art

The Hamad Airport has once again been acknowledged as the best airport by SKYTRAX 2022 World Airport Awards.  I must say, it is quite an airport.

One of the largest teddy bears in the world can also be found here.  In addition, the airport has quite a bit of other interesting art installations to admire.

Wrap Up

Qatar has so many riches, yet there are some important issues that hopefully will be fixed and soon!  Just think of how much better this country can be?!

Have you been to this desert land?  What are your thoughts?  What did we miss?

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