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Up for Some Soccer (Sorry…Football) Travel? Fun Facts About Qatar

Written by Going Places

This blog post was updated on November 14, 2022.

The tiny Gulf nation of Qatar, located in the Persian Gulf, officially gained independence from Britain in 1971. Since then, Qatar has grown into a shining and booming independent state. Not only is it one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but Qatar is also becoming quite the tourist attraction, even rivaling Dubai with its natural wonders and glistening skyscrapers rising above the desert.

Here are some fun facts about Qatar that you might not know.


Qatar Gets Toasty

The climate in Qatar might be a traveler’s first curiosity when planning a trip to the Gulf nation. Qatar boasts an arid climate in which the summers are very hot and winters are mild. While you might think you can take the heat, think again. In the summer, especially in July and August, it isn’t uncommon to see temperatures stretching from 105 degrees to 122 degrees Fahrenheit with 90% humidity. Doha, the capital, in particular reaches such extreme temperatures. If you are plotting a trip to Qatar, you can dodge the heat by visiting from October to May when the weather is at its most pleasant.


Doha Has a Lot of Dough

As the capital of Qatar, Doha is the general point of reference in the country. It also happens to be one loaded capital. Doha presides over most of the world’s natural gas supply. As one would expect with such an distinction, the people of Doha enjoy the highest per capita income of any place on Earth. In fact, Qatar is the richest country on earth, based on GDP per capita.


Everybody is Working for…Thursday?

Most of us have our eyes set on Friday as the start of the weekend. But the people in Qatar live for Thursdays. The workweek in Qatar spans from Sunday through Thursday, and they generally have Friday and Saturday off. This stems from Friday being a sacred day of worship in Islam. Other countries that follow a Friday-Saturday weekend include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman.


One Doha Neighborhood is Shaped Like Pearls 

Visitors to Qatar often place the Pearl-Qatar, a development in Doha that offers a wide range of luxury shopping and dining experiences, at the top of their list of places to visit. Built on an artificial island, the Pearl-Qatar gets its name because in the past, divers once hunted for pearls in the area now occupied by the island. Today, the island offers a variety of experiences for travelers with high-end tastes.

While some might enjoy boutique shopping at the Pearl-Qatar’s many luxury retailers, others might want to sit down and relax at some of the district’s impressive waterfront restaurants and cafes. The development further offers a variety of entertainment experiences for people of all ages. In addition to the breathtaking boardwalk at Porto Arabia, the Pearl-Qatar features everything from high-end movie theaters, arcades, and even a traditional carousel for visitors with children. Guests should also consider taking a ride on a water taxi to bear witness to the glory of the island from its beautiful canals.

The Museum of Islamic Art Was Designed by I.M. Pei

Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art features an incredible collection of art and historic items. In addition to religious art inspired by Islam, the museum shows visitors the full breadth of Islamic history in the Middle East and Europe. While paintings, sculptures, and tapestries are major draws for the museum, the institution also features an amazing collection of medieval weapons and armor.

Although the museum’s collection will delight guests with all sorts of tastes, the building itself is an architectural wonder. The museum was designed by the famed architect I. M. Pei, who also designed the pyramidal entrance to the Louvre in Paris. Featuring a mix of Islamic-inspired architecture and geometric designs, the Museum of Islamic Art rests in a 70-acre park overlooking Doha’s waterfront. A collaboration of the old and the new, the museum and its surroundings make for a unique cultural experience.

There’s More Than Just Desert in Qatar

Although Qatar is a desert, the country is home to a wide array of both flora and fauna, particularly on Purple Island. Also known as Bin Ghammon Island, Purple Island became known as such in the second millennium BCE, because traders would harvest purple dye from shellfish that live in the waters around the island.

Sitting 40 kilometers from Doha and adjacent to the town of Al Khor, Purple Island is known for its beautiful limestone cliffs and mangrove forests that are home to a variety of exotic birds, including pink flamingos. Most tourists who visit Purple Island enjoy a variety of water-related activities, such as kayaking and paddleboarding. Going in the water or sunbathing on the island’s beaches further allows visitors a chance to see Purple Island’s beautiful marine life, which includes rare species of crab and fish.

Doha Has the World’s Longest Cycling Path

In 2020, the Ashghal, Qatar’s public works agency, completed the Olympic Cycling Path in Doha. At 33 kilometers long, the Olympic Cycling Path is recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records as the longest continuous cycle path in the world. Extending all the way from Doha to Al Khor, the Olympic Cycling Path allows cyclists to reach speeds of up to 50 kilometers per hour.

Featuring 29 tunnels and 5 bridges, the path is part of Qatar’s effort to encourage fitness and a healthy lifestyle. In addition to over a thousand light poles so riders can cycle at night, the path also has several rest areas and countless benches in case riders ever need to take a break. While the path is beloved by cycling enthusiasts, tourists have also grown to love the Olympic Cycling Path for the safe way it allows them to experience Qatar’s natural beauty.

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The Camel Races Feature…Robot Jockeys?

While camel racing is a sport steeped in ancient tradition, racing authorities in Qatar have added a distinctly modern touch to one of the oldest pastimes in the world. Camel racing has been part and parcel to Qatari culture for hundreds of years, when it was practiced by Bedouin riders in the deserts of the Middle East.

Later codified into a national sport in 1972, camel races have gone on with robot jockeys since 2004. Prior to the use of robots, children were used as jockeys, a practice that was stopped due to public safety concerns. Nevertheless, modern races still honor the tradition of using child jockeys by dressing up the mechanical camel riders to give them the appearance of young children. Linked to the robot jockeys by a complex walkie-talkie system, human operators often ride alongside their camels in roadways that are directly adjacent to the racetrack.

Did we miss your favorite fun fact about Qatar? Let us know in the comments below! 

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