Qatar is a small Arab country, which is considered one of the richest in the world. The form of government used in Qatar is an absolute monarchy. Head of state is the Emir of Qatar and Prime Minister is his brother. Official currency of the country is Qatari Riyal (QR). Qatar’s natural conditions are pretty harsh. Prolonged droughts and unbearable heat test the resistance even of life forms which are otherwise well adapted to these hard living conditions.
Geographic location, boundaries and size. Qatar is located in Asia, on the west coast of the Arabian Peninsula. The country occupies the entire area of the relatively small Qatari Peninsula.
It is about 190 km long and is surrounded by the waters of the warm Persian Gulf. It possesses several small inhabited and uninhabited coastal islands. Qatar occupies an area of 11,437 sq km and has a land border only with Saudi Arabia.
Climate. Qatar falls within the tropics of the Northern Hemisphere. It has dry and hot desert climate. The rainfall that falls over the country is extremely scarce.
The temperatures are high throughout the year, ranging between 22°C in January and 42°C July. During the period from December to February the nights are cool. During the winter months are possible strong sand storms.
Nature. Qatar is occupied by barren rocky desert and is almost completely devoid of vegetation. Exceptions are some dry-loving desert grasses and date palms, as well as artificially maintained gardens with trees and flowers in the capital Doha.
The landscape is dry and monotonous, with some small oases. The relief of Qatar is completely flat. The highest point is Mount Qurayn Abu al Bawl and rises only 103 meters above sea level. The country has no forests or rivers.
Coast. The coastline of Qatar is moderately indented with some distinct small peninsulas and bays. The coastline is flat and for the most part is occupied by extensive sandy beaches. The sea near the coast is very shallow, although there are exceptions.
In some places, because of sand accumulation, is possible to walk a hundred meters or more into the Persian Gulf and the water is still knee-deep.
It is advisable to be careful because most of the Qatar’s beaches are not patrolled and are usually almost deserted. This means that in case of emergency one can rely only on himself.
The sea. The sea around Qatar is warm all year round. The sun quickly heats the coastal shallow water and at the height of summer, sea surface temperatures can reach 35 and even the incredible 37°C!
The waters around Qatar are transparent, and near the coast there are beautiful coral reefs. You, however, have to be cautious because the corals are not only very beautiful but also quite sharp. This means that in contact with them one can easily get hurt.
Attractions. Arriving in Qatar there is a lot of things not to be missed. The good news is that the country has a small area and you can explore many places for a short time. Probably the first place you will visit is the fortress Doha because it is located in the heart of Qatar’s capital.
The fortress was built during the Ottoman invasion in the 19th century and is developed in typical Moroccan style.
Just steps from the castle is situated the beautiful clock tower of Doha that is really worth seeing. It is exquisite and coloured in white and pink shades.
Probably the most interesting are its odd Arabic digits which, for most foreign tourists, are completely incomprehensible.
Also in the city center is situated the Pearl. This is a wonderful fountain that depicts dissolved shell with a pearl in it. Against this fountain is the bay that reveals stunning view to the modernist skyscrapers rising on the opposite bank of the bay.
About 19 km north of the capital’s downtown, stands Umm Salal Mohammed, the beautiful castle of the 19th century. Besides being very attractive, it is also very easily accessible due to its location on the northern outskirts of the capital.
Perhaps the most interesting from a cultural point of view is the area of the town of Al-Zubarah which is extremely rich in archaeological finds.
The site is located in one of the most remote northwestern areas. The fortress Al-Zubarah is considered one of the biggest attractions here. Because of its historical monuments, Al-Zubarah is declared a World Heritage Site under the auspices of UNESCO.
Economy. In recent years, Qatar is considered one of the richest countries in the world. The purchasing power and standard of living of Qatar’s people are extremely high.
In 2012 the average income exceeds 88,000 dollars a year, which is approximately 2 times higher than the average income of some of the most developed countries in Western Europe.
As regards to the standard of living, only Luxembourg can match with Qatar, although in recent years it gives way to Qatar. Local residents not only enjoy an exceptionally high standard of living, but they do not pay for water, electricity or taxes.
Qatar dues its wealth to the huge deposits of natural gas and oil, as well as to the properly investing the money gained from the export of black gold and gas. Thanks to its huge resources, the country is among the fastest growing in the world.
Despite its small territory and population, Qatar attracts and invests abroad tens of billions of dollars. In Qatar there aren’t any railways.
At the expense of this, road and air transport are particularly well developed. Here is the place to note that Qatar Airways is considered one of the best airlines in the world.
Population. The population of Qatar is approximately 1,760,000 people. It is very unevenly distributed in the country. Most of the population is concentrated in the eastern coastal areas, in the capital Doha and its vicinity.
Doha is home to about 1,450,000 inhabitants.
The population of Qatar is quite cosmopolitan. It consists of about 20% native people and 80% foreigners – Indians, Arabs, East Asians, Europeans and many others.
The official language of Qatar is Arabic, but given that the majority of local population consists of immigrants from different parts of the world, English is the primary means of communication between people of different nationalities.
Official religion of Qatar is Islam. Of all the Muslims who live in the country, about 90% are Sunni and only 10% are Shia. As regards human rights, Qatar is among the most developed countries in the region.
Women have the right to vote and stand for election. However, the country has a lot of things to change before it reaches the level of democracy and tolerance that are characteristic of the West.
Cuisine. Dry and hot climate in combination with poor soil creates unfavourable growing conditions for plants and animals. However, as a peninsular country, Qatar is surrounded by the warm, rich waters of the Persian Gulf.
For this reason it should not be surprising when you see how important the seafood on the daily lives of local residents is. Fish, crabs, shrimp and mussels present at the table almost every day, although lamb is also quite popular.
Since the Arab nations have maintained close trade ties with countries from around the world, today Qatari cuisine has features, typical of the Mediterranean and South Asia.
Cheese and milk also present at the table almost every day. Like other Arab nations, Qatar is known for its delicious cakes and crispy bread. Modern irrigation systems make possible the cultivation of tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, melons, watermelons, and many others.
There are good climate conditions for growing of warm-loving date palms whose fruits, the dates, are considered to be one of the most powerful and energy giving foods of plant origin.
Local residents usually eat three times per daily. To avoid the unbearable heat and to use the cooler hours of the day, the people that live in Qatar usually have breakfast quite early in the morning. It is fairly light and consists of fruits, dairy products, breads and other products.
Lunch is the main meal of the day. At noon Qatar‘s people usually consume the largest meal of the day that mostly consists of fish or meat with vegetables, as well as tasty desserts.
Generally people spend more time having lunch in an effort to avoid the burning midday heat. Dinner is usually the lightest meal for the day and consists mainly of salads and other foods that are not very heavy.
When to visit Qatar? December, January and February are certainly the best months to visit Qatar. The weather conditions during this period are most pleasant and favorable.
The months from May to September are the worst time for tourism, because the temperatures in this period are extremely high. During the summer season it is insufferably hot.
For a person, who is not accustomed to these conditions, will be a serious challenge to withstand the heat without air conditioning. Another advantage to travel during the winter season is the National Day of Qatar, which takes place on 18 December.
What to wear in Qatar? During the winter months of the year you need summer clothing and light spring jacket at night. If you are planning to travel in Qatar during the summer months, however, you should pay additional attention to your clothing.
To protect your skin from the strong, burning and harmful tropical sun, you need light clothes, made of airy fabrics that cover the largest possible surface area of your body.
Sunglasses and hats are very important accessories which to some extent will protect you from sunstroke. Pay serious attention to your sunscreen!
Historical data. The lands of present-day Qatar are inhabited around 50,000 years ago. In its historical past this small country repeatedly fell within the borders of various great empires. Initially part of the Persian Empire, later the Peninsula of Qatar was conquered by the Ottoman Empire.
The country acquired independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1913, and just three years later in 1916 became a British protectorate. Qatar obtained independence from Britain in 1971.
Meanwhile, in 1961 it became a member of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), and in 1996 joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).