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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Coffee and dancing at Souq Waqif

If you are looking for somewhere to go at night which is a little more authentic than a hotel night club, then Eshariq Coffee might be the answer. This Qatari restaurant is popular with both western expats and Qataris, and provides strong Arab coffee and Shisha (flavoured tobacco smoked through a water pipe).

In the evening they also serve Qatar traditional food, which you may wish to avoid unless your stomach is well accustomed to the local bugs. Cushions are provided on benches so that you can recline while smoking your shishsa - which you can do either in the coffee shop, on the verendah or out on the courtyard. The space on the roof is reserved for families.

When we went there on a Friday evening the place was particularly lively, with Arab musicians sitting on the floor or the square outside the cafe. They were playing traditional instruments, including the Arabic lute, and every so often one, two or three singers would get up and dance to the music.

Listen to the sounds of Arabic drums and singing.

Listen to the sounds of the Arabian Oud (lute)

Although it was ten o' clock at night when we left, there were still some shops open to browse through. We particularly liked this little shop selling Arab shoes, which had been temporarily abandoned by its owner.

Even though Souq Waqif itself is far from being complete, there's already numerous other little cafes and restaurants and we look forward to exploring it further in the future.

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The laughter factory

The laughter factory is a regular event that takes place in Ramada hotel. The event normally features three comedians. The next laughter factory will take place on Sunday 4th and Monday 5th March, and will feature Jeff Innocent, Reginald Hunter and Carl Spain. The show will begin at eight o'clock, and tickets costs 85 riyals. Ring The Ramada on 441 7417 for more details.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The end of sponsorship...?

"Qatar to ease business rules: sponsorship-free regime likely," announced the Gulf Times today, in an article which unfortunately does not appear to be available on its website. (Since this post was published the article has now appeared!)

Could this be the end of Qatar’s ridiculous sponsorship rules?

Just in case there are any non-residents reading, your sponsor is like your owner. Without your sponsor’s permission, you can’t leave the country, take a driving test, open a bank account or purchase alcohol in one of the country’s two off-licences. Obviously, such a transgression of liberty is very off-putting to many of the professionals who Qatar needs to progress its ambitious development plans.

The beginning of the end (we hope) came with the setting up of the Qatar Financial Centre. This was the first Qatari Institution which could recruit expatriates without the need for sponsorship.

Today it appears that the Government is keen to relax rules further. ' "We are trying to create a business environment of international level," ' said Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani, first deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, before admitting that 'local business was used to certain style of doing business'.

What is not clear is whether this relaxing of sponsorship will apply to all areas of work, or just business, and to all races and nationalities (political correctness has yet to reach Qatar) or just Gulf Arabs and Westerners.

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The Singing Sandunes: directions

Head out of town along Salwa Road. About eight miles after the large roundabout by the industrial area, you’ll come to a Mobil Petrol station. Go past the station and do a U Turn. Drive back along the road, past the army camp, and take the right turning onto the road to Messaieed. Drive along the road, past two roundabouts. Turn left at the first junction after the roundabout. Follow the new road – be careful as there are some vicious speed bumps. You’ll cross a pipe line, and come to a t-junction - go straight ahead here. As you drive along (it's not very far) you’ll be able to see the dunes – leave your car by the side of the road if you have a sedan, or drive over the rough ground if you have a 4 wheel drive.

Click on map below for full image.

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Dunestock 2007

Dunestock, the annual musical festival, will be held on 9th March this year. The event will start at 12.00 p.m. and finish at 12.00 am - the event will once again be held at the singing sand dunes on the Salwa-Messaieed road.

In addition to live music, enhanced by the natural amphitheatre effect of the singing sand dunes, there will be bouncy castles, face painting and food stalls. All money raised will go the the Doha Players rebuilding fund.

Also see:

The Dunestock website for more information.

The singing sand dunes: directions

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Messaieed Industrial city

(also known as Umm Saieed and Musay-id)
Population: 12,674 (2004 census)

If you're a tourist you'll probably only see Messaieed as you drive through on the way to Sea Line resort or Khor Al Edaid (the inland sea) or to Umm Saieed beach. Your impressions will be of refineries spouting flame and massive housing constructions: the place is obviously going to expand dramatically.

Despite its small population, the present importance of this "city" cannot be underestimated: commodities imported and exported through its port account for about 60% of the country's GDP. The place itself cannot be mistaken for what it is: a town devoted to manufacture and industry.

Messaieed was established on the salt flats or Sabkhah of Qatar's coastMassive construction is taking place in and around Messaieed in 1949. It intitially functioned as a tanker terminal by Qatar petroleum, and was Qatar's first deep sea port. Today its port sees about a 1000 ships a year passing through. Currently, Messaieed is expanding at an astronomical rate, and there seems to be many more buildings under construction than are currently built.

Go past Messaieed city and you'll find towering sand dunes on either side of the road. These prove an irresistible lure for dune bashing land cruisers. This is a dangerous sport, and on Fridays and on public holidays you'll find ambulances waiting by the side of the road, ready to pick up the dead and injured.

Near Sealine the Al-Afjah heritage village is currently being constructed on the site of the Old-Afjah village, and both Khor Al-Deid (the Inland Sea) is not too far away and the singing sand dunes are not too far away.


There's not a great deal to do in Messaieed. Nevertheless, it's less than an hour from Doha, and the following facilities are available:

Golf club - 18 hole golf course, tennis court, garden for children, swimming pool billiards room + banquet hall. Hosts several competitions including the Qp challenge trophy.
Contact: Tel: +974 4771 740

Al Shaheen recreational centre (junior staff) - swimming pool, tennis court, playground, gym + garden for children. Contact: Tel +974 4770848

Shopping - There's a shopping area in the City Centre which caters for all essentials and includes quite a number of restaurants. There's also a mall like building, which is mostly empty at the moment but will no doubt shortly be filled.

Recreational park in Messaieed

Recreational park - immaculately maintained park with gardens, shaded picnic areas, shaded sand area for children, children play area with slides and swings and a small skateboard park.

Messaieed medical centre - clinic with comprehensive services including dental health, antenatal care and a well women clinic.

Messaieed nursery school - English speaking nursery school following British curriculum.

Tel: +974 4760292

You'll also find a large mosque, Q-post, Q-tel and several banks including HSBC.

Messaieed industrial city website

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The Qatar Moto Grand Prix

Following on from the World Superbike Championships held last Saturday, The Qatar Moto Grand Prix will take place at Losail International Racing Circuit in March.

Free practice will be held on the 8th March, with further free practice and qualifying on the 9th March. Warm-ups will be held from 7.45 -8.45 on the 10th March, with races starting at 12.00.

The Qatar Moto Grand Prix has been running since 2005. Last year the winner was Valentino Rosso, who, with seven world championships to his name, is often considered to be the greatest competition rider of all time.

Also see:

Superbike racing at Losail International circuit

Losail racing track and directions

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Superbike racing

Saturday 24th February saw round 1 of the Superbike World Championships take place at Losail Racing Track.

Listen to the sounds of the superbikes.

A superbike racer is shaded from the desert sunAlthough Corser set the best time in practice, the first race was won by new-comer to superbike racing Biaggi, with Brit Toseland coming second and Corser coming in a distant ninth. The second race was won by Brit Toseland with Biaggi coming a close second and Corser third. Reigning world champion Troy Bayliss had a disappointing day coming fifth and sixth consecutively.

The starting grid
Like last year, Losail proved singularly inept in updating the score board, which remained unchanged throughout most of the race. A commentary would also have been welcome, but otherwise the races were well organised and exciting.

Bikes round the final corner of Losail International Racing Track
see a google map of the racetrack

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Ashgal festival

A giant inflated road sign announces the Ashgal Milestone 2007 exhibition alongside Orry, the (currently redundant) Asian Games Mascot. It's perhaps not the most exciting exhibition in the world. Doha has been laid out in a model as it will look in the future, but surrounding the model are diagrams of traffic installations. It is, after all, organised by Ashgal, the Qatar Public Works Authority.

Lighting at the Ashgal exhibition on the Corniche
The lighting, however, is beautiful, and the atmosphere warm. A wooden partition resembling a stone wall has been set up with sofas for guest to relax while being served dates and traditional Arabic coffee flavoured with cinnamon. Old pictures of Doha adorn the partition.

Coffee and dates await visitors

The exhibition is free, and will be open until 7th April.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Aspire Tower

Aspire tower next to Khalifa Stadium
This futuristic structure was designed to resemble a torch during the Asian Games. During the Games it was indeed a torch, with a ten meter flame blazing at the top of it. Aspire Tower is located within Sports City, by Khalifa Stadium and close to Villagio shopping mall, and at 318 metres is currently the tallest building in Doha.

It also has a special video screen woven into a wire mesh and measuring over 1000 square metres. This wraps around the building and enabled the colourful night-time displays visible throughout the Asian Games.

Aspire Tower’s interior will not be finished until August 2007 and will contain a sports museum, a revolving restaurant, a five star hotel, a swimming pool and an observatory.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Inflation made the headlines again today in both the Peninsula and the Gulf Times after reaching almost 12% in 2006, compared to 8.8% the previous year. The main cause was, once again, rent increases. Expected wage increases of 20% in the next year are likely to aggravate the inflationary situation, yet despite this high inflation the government has yet to increase deposit rates. This table in Qatar Central Bank's website states that deposit rates are still below 6%. According to yesterday's Gulf Times wage increases are not sufficient: last year wages rose 15% compared to an increase in the cost of living of 24%.

In other news the Qatar Government's investment arm, Delta 2, is considering increasing its stake in Sainsbury as part of a "strategic investment".

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Monday, February 19, 2007

English language newspapers

There are currently three local English Language newspapers, and they’re actually not that bad. The Gulf Times is the longest running newspaper, and currently has the biggest circulation, but The Peninsula is rather more critical. The Qatar Tribune is the new kid on the block, and is still finding its feet: while international coverage is comprehensive, local news is scarce compared to the other papers. All the papers have a focus on news from the most common groups of expatriates.

The Khaleej Times is a regional newspaper, and doesn’t cover Qatar very well, being more focused on the UAE. Nevertheless, it’s actually a really good read, with gossip pages, analysis and more. If you don’t just want local news there’s a lot more to it than the other papers. American and British papers are available, although they are expensive and may be out of date.

While sometimes there is a rather strange turn of phrase in the local papers, they are generally well proof-read and actual grammatical errors are kept to a minimum. International news is taken from news agencies, but all the local papers have a team of journalists to cover local events. They do seem to have a habit of printing some press releases verbatim, without analysis or comment. Yet at the same time they have a reputation for being more vocal than the Arabic newspapers. With reports on strikes, living and working conditions for expats and maids and criticism of government institutions, these papers can give you a real feel of the country and its issues.

In addition, the Gulf Times and the Peninsula both have websites with the most recent news, although they are not fully functional and searching for old news stories is impossible. All the papers provide classifieds, which are a good source of second hand cars and other goods, but these are only available on the printed versions of the paper.

You can buy English language newspapers in most of the shops. Alternatively, just wait until you stop at some traffic lights and buy a paper off one of the poor souls there.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Shopping developments: Vista, Apple and books

Vista has arrived in Qatar! Carrefour in Villagio was stocking Vista laptops this morning, with the most reasonable being a widescreen Compaq with vista basic, a gigabyte of ram, a centrina core duo chip and an 80 gigabyte hard drive for a very reasonable 3,100 riyals (US$850). There was also a display in City Centre by an Al Muntazah store called family.lan (contact number 4418938). Their cheapest offer was a desktop with windows vista at 2499 (US$700), although as with almost all desktops here it was Pentium 4 rather than windows duo.

Meanwhile Al Mana, Apple's official agent in Qatar, plans to open an Apple Centre. This will be located on the third floor, next to the Nokia shop overlooking the ice rink. It looks like some time before it will be completed, but when it is buying an apple computer may not be such a pipe dream for Qatar residents.

And it gets even better! At long last, City Centre has a bookshop. Nestling just round the corner from the forthcoming Apple Centre is a new book shop, called I-spy. It’s very well laid out, with armchairs to relax while you browse, and a children’s section with comfy cushions on the floor. Interestingly, we could not spot one single Arabic book.

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Qatar total open

The Qatar Total Open will be held at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash stadium, starting on 26th February and lasting until 3rd March. This annual women's tennis match, which started in 2001 and last year had $600,000 in prize money, is a WTA tour event (tier II).Last year the singles tournament was won by Nadia Petrova, who beat the world number one in two straight sets 6-3 7-5. The doubles tournament was won by Daniela Hantuchuva and Ai Suguyama against Ting Li and Tiantian Sun 6-4, 6-4. This years match will feature many of the top female tennis players, including Justine Henin, currently rated world number 2, and Martina Hingis.

Map of area.

For more information see the Qatar Total Open's official website

Or contact:

Qatar Tennis Federation Tel +974 4409666/4409654 Fax +974 4832990
Email: qatartennis@qatartennis.org
Tournament Office Tel: +974 4409601/ 4409602 Fax: +974 4831972
Email: qtvisa@qatartennis.org

Also see: Qatar Tennis

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Friday, February 16, 2007

American arts festival

The opening to the American Arts Festival was held at the auditorium in AL Bida family park this evening.

The auditorium in Al Bidda park

The opening featured traditional Qatar music by Alalulwa. This was followed by speeches, followed by a free buffet and live jazz.

Watch traditional Qatar music played live on YouTube.

A group play traditional Qatari music
The festival of poetry, photography and jazz, which will include lectures, exhibitions, poetry readings, workshops and concerts will be at Georgetown university over the next few weeks. For more information check out this schedule on the Georgetown website.

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Qatar Explorer

The Complete Residents Guide (1st Edition)
ISBN 976-8182-53-9 (251pp)

Qatar can prove to be a bureaucratic and confusing maze for the unsuspecting visitor. Public and private sector workers alike sometimes regard information as something to be given out only with the greatest reluctance, while others express amazement at your lack of knowledge of the intricacies of their organizations.

Qatar: the complete residents guide is currently both the most comprehensive and the best tourist guide, with much of this information available between it purple covers. It’s divided into six sections: general info, residents, exploring, activities, shopping and going out.

While, it seems, everything a tourist or resident would want to know about has been included, it would be nice to have more detail on some areas, such as food, culture and history. However, as it title suggests, both it’s main focus and its strength is on providing clear and practical information for residents, and it includes information on housing, setting up home, health and education. The adverts which dot its pages may prove to be an irritation for a book that you have paid for, but at least they contribute to a reasonable price for a book which has only a small potential market. Overall, this is a book well worth buying for anyone thinking of coming to work and live in Qatar.

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Trio Divorak

"The Music of Trio Divorak", a small classical music concert, will be held at the French Cultural Centre on Thursday 22nd February. Three musicians - playing the piano, cello and violin - will be playing a selection of light classical music. Tickets will cost 20 riyals.

Location: 13 Al Joud Street, Quartier: Dafna - West Bay (Close to Al Jazi Gardens)
Tel: +974 4930862/3
Email: contact@ccfdoha.com

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Losail racing track

Losail racing track is 5.4 kilometres long, has 16 turns and the longest straight is just over a kilometre. The major challenge for riders is not the turns but dealing with treacherous sand blown onto the track. To get to Losail Racing track head out of town on Al Jamlaa Street, past Doha Golf Club towards Al Khor. Drive along the desert road until you see the signs for Losail racing circuit.

Contact details: +974 4729151.

Google Earth image of Losail racing track

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Monday, February 12, 2007

At the jetty

At this jetty on the Corniche, close to the Sheraton hotel, you can watch brightly coloured fish swimming in the clear water around you while relaxing in the warm winter sun. Look closely, and you will see bigger fish lurking below these small fry.

Click here to listen to the sound of water lapping against the jetty.

Tourist dhows playing loud traditional music will take you on brief trips round the bay. Be careful, though - the fifteen riyal price can rapidly become fifty riyals when you are on the boat, no matter how carefully you check beforehand.

Listen to the sounds of a tourist dhow playing traditional music.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

American arts festival

The American arts festival, sponsored by the centre for International and Regional Studies, starts on 16th February. The festival will be held at Georgetown campus and will focus on poetry, photography and jazz through the medium of performances, lectures and discussion. The aim is not just to showcase American art but to encourage dialogue between American and Arab artists. For more information see the IFP qatar website or contact Frances Nehme: Tel. +974 4329900 Mobile: 974 5100575 Email fnehme@ifpqatar.com .

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Gondolas in Villagio

Canal and gondolas in VillagioIt's only a month since we did a review of Villagio, but when we heard they had gondolas we had to get along there. More of the complex has been opened now, and though workers are still welding and banging around you, it looks fantastic. A canal runs through the new section, and gondolas are tied up along the canal, ready to transport customers through the huge shopping complex. The ceiling, as we mentioned before, imitates the sky very successfully. There's still only a few shops in the new section, but we weren't the only ones just walking round and admiring what had been done. It's well worth a visit while it's still very easy to park.

Also see: Villagio Italia in Nagoya

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Qatar schools

This page is now out of date. For a more up-to-date and comprhensive database of schools see our webpage: Qatar Schools

Also see Further Education in Qatar.

Primary and secondary school education in Qatar is currently in a state of flux. There are currently two bodies controlling education in Qatar: The Ministry of Education and The Supreme Education Council.

The Supreme Education Council is slowly taking over from the Ministry of Education, and is currently establishing privately managed Independent schools. Many of these schools have better equipment and resources than the Ministry of Education schools, which also suffer from discipline problems.

The independent schools currently teach some subjects in Arabic, and, in theory at least, other subjects in English. There are problems caused by the different levels of English of the teachers, whose proficiency can range from basic to native speaker. The Supreme Education Council is investing heavily in training its teachers, and hopes to move completely to English over the next five years.

Most expatriate children go to private schools, and Qatar offers both a lot of choice and very good value for money with education.

List of private schools in Qatar

Below we’ve included a list of some of the schools available in Qatar. This list is by no means all-inclusive.

Al-Jazeera Academy
Contact details: Tel: +974 469 3777 Fax: +974 4682555
Email: registrar@aja.edu.qa
Website: www.aja.edu.qa
Comprises 4 schools:
Early Learning Centre (pre-school and reception)
the Primary School (years 1-6)
the secondary girls school (years 7-13)
the secondary boys school (years 7-13)
Curriculum: International primary school, IGCSE for secondary school with option to follow IB diploma or Cambridge International Diplomas.

Cedars Tuturing programme
Contact details: +974 4688192/ 583 0165
Location: off Al Afnan Street between Salwa Road and Haloul Street

Offers additional tutoring, bridging programmes and intensive English courses to prepare students for English language schools

Compass International School
Contact details: Tel: +974 487 7445 Fax: +974 487 7446
Email: info@cisdoha.org
Address: PO Box 23479
Ages taught: 4-12 (with plans to raise the upper age limit to 18)
Location: Waab Al Abareeq Street in Al Gharaffa (close to Education city)
Website: http://www.cisdoha.org/index.htm

The school is owned and operated by WCLS group (http://www.greatlearning.com/).

Doha British Montessori School
Contact details: Tel: +974 4445955/66 Fax: +974 4445977
Email: info@doha-montessori.com
Website: www.doha-montessori.com
Location: Al Soudan Roundabout
Address: PO Box 6142, Doha, Qatar
Ages taught: currently years reception – year 8 (years 9 and 10 from September 2007)
Curriculum: National Curriculum for England and Wales

Doha College
Contact details: Tel: +974 468 7379 Fax: +974 4685720
Email: Primary school: enquiriesprimary@dohacollege.com
Secondary school: enquiries@dohacollege.com
Website: www.dohacollege.com
Address: Doha College P.O. Box 7506 Doha Qatar
Location: On the new E ring road, near Qatar decoration roundabout on Salwa Road.
Teaches from primary to secondary school
Sponsored by the British Embassy

Doha English Speaking School
Contact details: Tel +974 487 0170 Fax +974 4875921
Email: dess@qatar.net.qa
Website: www.dess.org
Address: PO Box 7660, Doha, Qatar
Ages taught: 3-10
Location: Near TV roundabout
Curriculum: National Curriculum of England
Facilities include: covered swimming pool, music room, sporting facilities and playing field.

Doha Modern Indian School (Gems managed)
Contact details: Tel: +974 4583121/122 Fax: +974 4583124
Email: dmis@qatar.net.qa
Website: http://www.dpsmisdoha.com/DPSDoha/
Address: PO box 47391, Doha, Qatar
Location: Abu Hamour, close to the Pakistani School
Curriculum: CBSE syllabus

Park House English School
Contact details: Tel: +974 4633800 Fax: +974 4583785
Email: phes@qatar.net.qa
Website: www.parkhouseschool.com
Address: PO Box 22215, Doha, Qatar
Location: Wholesale Market Street
Ages taught: Primary School 3-11 years old
Comprehensive School Year 7-12 (check ages)
Curriculum: Follows English and Welsh National Curriculum
Facilities include science labs, I.T. suites, auditorium, heated swimming pool and sports facilities including football pitch.

Qatar Academy
Contact details: Tel +974 482 6666 Fax: +974 480 2769
Address: PO Box 1129, Doha, Qatar
Email: qataracademy@qf.org.qa
Website: www.qataracademy.edu.qa
Address: PO Box 1129, Doha, Qatar
Location: Education city
Includes primary and secondary school.
Curriculum: international baccalaureate.
Features include: science labatories and art studios, 250 seat auditorium, library-media centre, 50m Olympic swimming pool and training pools + multi gym.

Qatar International School (British run)
Contact details: Tel: +974 4833456 Fax: +974 4831096
Email: info@qis.org
Website: www.qis.org
Address: P.O.Box 5697, Doha, Qatar
Location: Dafna West Bay Area of Qatar next to French School and new Lebanese School
Teaches ages 2 ½ - 17
Teachers: U.K. trained
Facilities include: swimming pool and sports facilities

The American School of Doha
Contact details: Tel +974 4421377 Fax: +974 4420885
Email: info@asd.edu.qa
Address: PO Box 22090, Doha, Qatar
Location: SW Quadrant, Al Rayyan/Al Sudan District, E ring road
Teachers: Include U.S., Canadian, Latin American, European and Arabic Teachers
Teaches from elementary to high school.

The Cambridge School for boys and girls
Contact Details: Tel: +974 4696590/ 4690520 Fax: +974 4699278
Email: cambridge@qatar.net.qa
Website: http://www.cambridgeschool.com.qa/contact/default.htm
Ages taught: 3-18
Curriculum: National Curriculum for England and Wales
Location: Al Madeed Street, Mamoura Area

The Gulf English School
Contact Details: Tel: +974 486 5367/ 487 3865 Fax: 4861256
Email: info@gulfenglishschool.com
Website: www.gulfenglishschool.com
Address: PO Box 2440, Doha, Qatar
Location: Al Gharaffa Street
Ages taught: 3-18
Curriculum: International baccalaureate, Arabic and Islamic studies included
Facilities include bus and swimming pools.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Wind tower

Tradtional wind tower in Al Najada souq

This is one of the few remaining traditional wind towers, which can be seen in the courtyard of Najada Shopping plaza on Grand Hamad Avenue.

Wind towers, or wind catchers as they are also known, were an effective natural form of air-conditioning in the harsh desert climate of the Middle East. They consisted of four openings facing in four directions. The effective is due to convection currents, with any hot air rising and leaving the building, and cool air entering and sinking to the bottom. Sturdy walls and masonry, and sometimes water reservoirs, also helped to keep out the heat and keep in any cool night air.

Although formerly a museum, the building is currently closed to the public.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

List of embassies in Qatar

Your country's embassy or consulate can provide invaluable assistance for both residents and visitors alike. Embassies issue passports and emergency passports, register births, deaths and marriages, can assist nationals detained or imprisoned, who have fallen ill or been the victims of crime, as well as offer advice on security issues. An embassy's visa section provides visa services where necessary and most embassies also have commercial sections providing information for businesses and general trade development advice.

Tel: +974 4836507 Fax: +974 4932330

Tel: +974 4831186 Fax: 4836452

Tel: +974 4884101 Fax: +974 4884298

Tel: +974 4839360 Fax: 4831018

Tel: +974 4671927 Fax: +974 4671190

Tel: +974 4670194 Fax: +974 4670595

Tel: +974 4838812 Fax: +974 4838087

Tel: +974 4421991 Fax: +974 4438692

Tel: +974 4831956

Tel + 974 4934 203 Fax: +974 4934201

Tel: +974 4110380 Fax: +974 4110387

Tel: +974 4933086 Fax: +974 4933087

Tel: +974 4838461

Tel: +974 4832555 Fax: +974 4832196

Tel:+974 4667934 Fax: +974 4664139

Tel: +974 4832283 Fax: +974 4832019

Tel: + 974 4876959 Fax: +974 4876949

Tel: +974 4932531 Fax: +974 4932537

Tel: +974 4672021 Fax: +974 4670448

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South Africa
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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Muslim prayer tower

Listen to the sounds of the Adhan, the Muslim prayer call, echo around the city of Doha on a Friday morning.

About the prayer call

The prayer call you here is the Sunni version - Qataris are predominantly Sunni Adhan is heard five times a day, calling the Muslims to Salat, a prayer which is complusory and must be performed. Traditionally a Muezzin climbed the a prayer tower to deliver the prayer call. However, nowadays the prayer call is often delivered by loudspeaker, which can result in a rather tinny sound.

We've shortened the Adhan posted here. The full text goes:

Allahu akbar Allahu Akbar
As ha du Allah illaha illaulah x2
Ash-hadu anna Muhammadur rasūlullāh
Hayya alas-salāt
Hayya alal-falāh
As-salatu khayru min an-naum x2(fajr prayer)
Allhu akbar Allahu Akbar
Lā ilāha illallāh

Which means:

Allah is great, Allah is great
I bear witness that there is no God except Allah (x2)
I bear witness that Mohammad is the messenger of God
Make haste towards prayer
Make haste towards welfare
Prayer is better than sleep
Allah is great, Allah is great
There is no God except Allah

(We've left Allah as Allah, although of course the translation of Allah is God).

The five prayers:

Salat Ul Fajr - the morning prayer. Should be performed between dawn and sunrise.

Salat Ul Zuhr - the noon prayer.

Salat Ul Asr - begin soon after Salat Ul Zuhr, although the prayer can take place up until just before sunset.

Salat Ul Magrib - begins just after sunset

Salat Ul Isha - begins an hour after sunset.

It is interesting to note that the majority of the praying takes place quite late in the day, presumably to allow people the opportunity to complete their work during daylight hours.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Renewing your road permit

The whole process of renewing the Estimara (road permit) was far simpler than I expected. I first checked I had no traffic violations. You can do this online at www.e.gov.qa. Click on Traffic Violations, then Pay Online. You can check if you have any outstanding fines on your car by putting either your ID number or your car plate number. You need to pay any fines before you can renew your permit.

Go to a traffic department – I used the Medinat Khalifa department, which is opposite the immigration department. You need your technical test certificate, insurance, ID card andThe typists offices will type up your forms in Arabic, take photographs and provide other services original road permit. Get the form typed up, (there are two typists’ offices to do this, and in any case they’ll jump on you as soon as you get out of your car). You give the typist your documents and he will complete the form for you in Arabic. The typist should charge you about 5 riyals.

Get a stamp for your form, and walk into the traffic department. Go to the information kiosk. The person at the kiosk will tell you which counter to go to. Go to the counter. Hand over your form and documents. The person (normally a lady) will type the details in and your new road permit will come out of the computer.

Locals will tell you to go early in the morning. Perhaps because everyone goes early in the morning, it was very quiet when I arrived at 10.45, and I got the whole process completed in about ten minutes.

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