Qatar, once one of the poorest Gulf states, is one of the richest countries in the region today. The State of Qatar is a sovereign and independent state in the Middle East, occupying a peninsula that juts into the Arabian Gulf. Since its complete independence from Britain in 1971, Qatar has emerged as one of the world's most important producers of oil and gas.
History and Government
Little physical evidence remains of Qatar's early history, but the heritage of its semi-nomadic Bedouin population lives on in beloved traditions such as falconry and camel racing. The rise to power of the Al Thani family, which established a capital at Al Bida in the mid-19th century, laid the foundations for the modern country. The government of Qatar is an absolute monarchy, headed by the Al Thani family. Political parties are banned, and there is no independent legislature in Qatar.
Geography and Environment
Qatar is a peninsula that juts north into the Persian Gulf off of Saudi Arabia. Its total area is just 11,586 square kilometers. Most of Qatar is a low-lying, sandy desert plain. Qatar's climate is mild and pleasant in the winter months, and extremely hot and dry during the summer.
Qatar is a traditional country experiencing rapid social changes. It is important to Qatar to maintain its heritage and the modern appearance may mislead people into forgetting that it is still a traditional society with consequential social misunderstandings. Foreign visitors are expected to dress in a style that is sensitive to Islamic culture. Conservative clothing is recommended. Men generally wear long trousers and a shirt in public. Women's attire in public - as opposed to hotels or private clubs - should cover the shoulders, upper arms and knees. When Arab men meet, they usually shake hands. A man does not generally shake hands with a woman. Women enjoy a certain degree of freedom in Qatar. Women can drive, travel solo, receive education, and hold jobs, freedoms which are often not enjoyed by women in some neighboring Arabic nations.
There are many Qatar holidays and events throughout the year. Some of these are religiously influenced, while others depict the growing stature of Qatar as a globally recognized destination. The biggest festivals are Eid which is probably the most renowned religious event each year, the Tribeca Film Festival, which pulls in thousands of international visitors annually.
During the month of March each year, the capital city of Qatar is home to the Cultural Festival. Attracting thousands of visitors annually, this important festival showcases the cultural uniqueness of the area. Traditional music, dance, costumes, and cuisine are mostly found throughout the event.
The cuisine of Qatar reflects traditional Arab, Iranian, and Levantine cuisines. It is also significantly influenced by Indian cuisine. Pork is banned from Qatar. The consumption and sale of alcohol are heavily regulated. The national dish is called Machbūs. It is a meal comprising of rice, vegetables, and meat. Other traditional Qatari dishes include kasba, balalet ,ghuzi, etc. Arabic coffee and karak (tea with a mixture of spices) are popular beverages. Some of the traditional desserts are om ali (a rice and bread pudding), Mehalabiyaand sago.
Best Time to Visit Qatar
Qatar experiences a dry, hot and subtropical desert climate with intensely hot summers and low annual rainfall. To avoid these climatic extremities, spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Qatar when temperatures are warm and evenings can be pleasantly cool. The best months to visit Qatar are from November to early April. Such climatic conditions allow sightseeing and outdoor activities across the country and these are considered as the peak-tourist season in Qatar.
Tips to Follow
On public beaches you cannot wear a swimsuit or a bikini, most Qatari women will wear shorts and t-shirts when they go into the sea whereas at a hotel or resort a bikini will be fine. And for the expat men, it is recommended to wear shorts which are of knee-length and cut-off shirts should be avoided. Visitors are offered food and beverages and a place to rest. However, they usually have separate guest areas where they host visitors. Such areas are separate from the regularly used family areas. Interaction and exchange of greetings between members of the opposite sex are usually reserved. The elderly people are given great respect and politely greeted by the younger generation.
Tourist Attractions in Qatar
Qatar has a wealth of beauty and culture to offer people visiting from all over the world. The most famous touristic attractions are the Katara Mosque which is situated in the center of the Katara Cultural Village site, the Doha desert which lies mostly untouched and should be a part of your visit to Qatar. The Al Wakra Museum is a site that has some of the best architecture in Qatar. The exhibits in the museum are quite fascinating and feature ancient artifacts and the details of the history of Qatar.