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Friday, January 29, 2010

Qatar Job of the Week

We have now put the job of the week up on the job board's blog - click here to check it out.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Traffic Cops Getting Harder

It seems like the traffic police are getting harder in Qatar.

I've seen police walk up to stationary cars and give the drivers tickets for not wearing seatbelts.

And last night I saw the traffic police at work at a busy intersection.

Congestion often causes frustation amongst Qatar drivers.

As usual in Qatar, when the lights turned green, motorists pushed forward, regardless of whether their exit was clear. If any dared remain still, they were angrily hooted by the cars behind them until they move forward.

The result, as usual, was a snarled interchange - a common sight in Qatar, as we show in the short movie below.

Except this time the police were ready, circling round the cars and handing out tickets.

Is it working?

"Ameena's had to pay a ticket for speeding," her friends told me. "QAR6000 (over $1600) for shooting a red light."

"Actually it was QAR7000," Ameena admitted. "Because I was also talking on my mobile phone and I wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

"But I am much better now," she continued. "I drive more slowly, I wear a seatbelt, and I stop when the light is amber, not red."

It seems that with some people at least, the new, harsher traffic laws are making a difference.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Crashed Ice Comes to Qatar

Red Bull are planning to break the ice with the Qatar people by holding a spectacular ice-skating event in Villagio on February 12th from 7-10 in the evening.

A jump in the Red Bull event.
Forbes-Associates, who are assistanting with Red Bull's PR in Qatar, told us that the company liked the irony of holding a winter event in a desert country where temperatures can reach 50 degrees! (Although it's not actually very hot at the moment.)

According to Joshua Hooper-Kay, of Forbes-Associates, pairs of ice-skaters race round an ice-rink filled with bumps, jumps, rollers and obstacles two-at-a-time - reaching, at times, speeds of up to 70 miles per hour.

In Qatar the event will have an added twist with a jump being made over a Chevrolet truck, as well as a belly slide underneath an object.

You can see the full course below, although this is still subject to change:

The current planned course.
We immediately jumped to YouTube to check it out, where the event looks rather different, being a specially designed out door course with a downhill section, too difficult to do here in hot Qatar.

Currently it looks as if the event is going to be free, but if that changes we'll let you know!

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Travel Grove Flight Comparison Website: Review

First we should mention that this we are conducting this review in exchange for a mention in TravelGrove's newsletter. While this remains a wholly independent review, we can't help the warm fuzzy feeling that this gives us before we start.

But to business.

Travel Grove's primary function appears to be a flight comparison website offering cheap flights around the world, although it also offers vacation offers, travel advice, hot deals and other travel products.

The most important thing for us is how well the site works, so we started off the functionality of the search engine.

Flight Search

The flight search was nice and easy to use, finding the airport for us after we typed in a few letters and quickly coming up with a range of prices.

Here's a quick demo - as you can see, if you don't select the boxes from below the flight search it will only search one provider:

The search returned results from nine airlines. Were the prices any good? Well, you can judge for yourself, but $507 for the cheapest flight seemed quite good to us:

Selection of prices from Travel Grove flight search.

It seems only fair to compare Travel Grove with another flight comparison website, so we typed in flight comparison into google international and chose the top site. Unfortunately this was completely useless for Qatar residents as it will only provide flights from UK airports. There's a US site, but we got in a complete mess there as it would not let us select a date, as you can see from the movie below:

So, for Qatar residents at least, Travel Grove wins hands down there.


The design of the website is functional - I am not quite sure about the blue lines crossing the screen from the back but it is still light on the eye, while a text and image menu at the top makes navigation easy.

Picture menu from Travel Grove.
Head down and you have some advice on cheap holidays, although we felt this was a bit dense and could be broken up a bit. I can't imagine actually reading more than the first paragraph. Head further down and you get to the travel guides - we clicked on keszthely - this was much better laid out, with headings and a very easy to digest ratings section which gave you a two second overview of the city.

It was, however, crying out for some images of the place. I clicked on a couple of other guides, and a lack of images was a common theme. They did include a Qatar travel guide - the population was out of date but it changes so rapidly that you can hardly blame them for that!

To the sidebar and further down you can see the hot deals section. These are easy to scan, and offer lots of great deals, but unfortunately for Doha residents both this section and their cheap flights to London page are aimed at the American market, with all flights originating from American airports.


This is an easy to use and well laid site. It is more aimed at the American market, but remains usable for Doha residents. I haven't actually booked a flight through them (QV's budget doesn't run to that! [ED: we buy you biscuits - what are you complaining about?]), so if you have, please leave your comment below!

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Qatar Philarmonic Orchestra to hold Family Concert

Qatar Philarmonic Orchestra wrote to us to say that they are holding a family concert on the 30th of this month at 5pm at the ladies club in Aspire Zone. The concert will start off with the Nutcracker suite, and will be followed by Saint-Saens’s Carnival of the Animals.

At the end of the concert children will have the chance both to participate in a question and answer session with narrator Maria Arnaout, a violinist in the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, and to try out some of the instruments.

The tickets, which can be bought from Virgin Megastore in Landmark or Villagio will be a very reasonable QAR75 for adults and QAR25 for children to see what is a world class orchestra.

See the Qatar Philarmonic Orchestra in action:

Qatar Movie

This is a movie of Qatar from Qatar 2022. Even if you are not interested in football it is still worth watching, as it has some beautiful shots of the desert - and an interesting glimpse of where the film-makers see Qatar developing in the future (trains!)!

You can see Qatar 2022's You Tube channel here.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Fancy yourself as an F1 Driver?

by John

Soon (later this year) anyone will be able to experience the thrill of driving an F1 car around Grand Prix race tracks. Well, at least a virtual drive - on your own computer, in your own home.

Sheikh Khalid on a simulator.
Winning Software.

This is not a second rate experience, however, but as realistic as it is possible to make it. The reason? The software will actually be based on the Williams 2009 F1 car, the FW31. The Silverstone and Brands Hatch circuits are already available to "drivers" with accuracy claimed to be to the millimeter. Oulton Park will shortly be added and others will follow.

iRacing means youRacing.

Williams F1, a Formula team with a commercial R&D base in Qatar (see our article Formula One in Qatar), have teamed up with iRacing.com, producers of motorsport simulation software, to produce this cutting-edge simulation product. This could potentially save lives in car-mad Qatar if Dads gave their sons this program instead of a real Ferrari or Lamborgini. Much cheaper too, as the cost is only US$12.95 plus $8 per month!

Time to put Qatar on the iRacing map

Apparently the UK has the second largest contingent of virtual racers at present and members range from professional racing drivers to those of us who have no chance of ever driving a real racing car. Now anyone can join. So come on Qatar - show us your driving prowess on line!

Compete against other drivers

Using this system, there is a race series which allows you to compete against other drivers, so testing your skills as well as enjoying the thrill of competition.

Improve your skills and progress

The system encourages members to improve their skills by working their way up to higher speeds gradually while being "penalised " for making mistakes such as "dropping" wheels off the track. (Might also help to improve Qatar driving standards!) Some members have made the transition from "sim-racing" to driving real racing cars and found that the inculcated discipline helped them in the real world.

Pro-drivers too

According to iRacing, professional racing drivers use their products to learn new circuits and for practice. [So you never know - you could find yourself up against Michael Schumacher or Jenson Button! That will certainly be my excuse if I find myself getting left miles behind...]

Going round in circles?

iRacing is a US company and as a result all the original tracks featured are ovals, as Americans seem to be able to only turn their cars in one direction. Now, however, for people who can steer both left and right, some UK tracks have been added and more F1 circuits will be added this year.

Progress to the real thing.

Some drivers have made the leap to real racing from sim-racing and it has been shown to be good preparation for the real thing. Rob Tarlton, who won last year's Phillips global promotion, said, "....sim-racing...definitely helped me develop car control. That helped in the transition to real cars". So come on guys - and gals - this could be the start of something big maybe even a chance to drive a Williams F1 car around Lusail circuit like Shiekh Khalid.

Also see: Abu Dhabi Formula One | Bahrain Formula One

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Qatar's 1st Falcon Festival

Wow - Qatar are to have their first ever Falcon festival, according to an email I have just been sent. You can see the details below, or to learn more about falconry in Qatar (and see a super movie) check out our article on Qatar Falconry.

Details as follow:

Under the patronage of H. E. Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani, the Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club (REC) announces the organizing of the 1st Qatar International Falcon Festival (QIFF) over a whole week from 31 January to 6 February 2010. The events of QIFF will be as follows:

• Sunday, 31 January and Monday, 1 February 2010: 3rd Qatar National Falcon Racing Championship (Lanners / Peregrines), Qataris only, peregrine chick race; 1 y/o and above peregrine race; lanner chick race; 1 y/o and above lanner race
• Tuesday, 2 February 2010: Young Falconer Competition (10 y/o and less), Qataris only; Falconer Competition ( 11 – 15 y/o), Qataris only
• Wednesday, 3 February 2010: Qatar International Falcon Beauty Show, Lanners only (chicks and 1 y/o and above), open
• Thursday, 4 February 2010: Qatar International Falcon Racing Championship (pure), open; chick race; 1 y/o and above race
• Friday, 5 February and Saturday, 6 February 2010: Qatar International Falcon Racing Championship (Lanners / Peregrines), open; peregrine chick race; 1 y/o and above peregrine race; lanner chick race; 1 y/o and above lanner race

For participation, please, contact the Entry Committee at REC for the National and the International Championships conditions. Please, bring a passport size photo, ID and the participating falcon. Entries will be open with effect from Tuesday, 19 January to Friday, 22 January 2010 from 05:00 pm to 08:00 pm.

For more information:
Tel: (+974) 5216216 – 6012986 – 6012961
Fax: (+974) 4809929
Website: www.qrec.gov.qa

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Jobs for Canadians in Qatar

The well respected College of the North Atlantic has posted over 20 jobs on our jobs board. These are mostly teaching jobs, although the college also needs testing coordinators, a graphic designer and an associate dean. Click here to see all the vacancies.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Formula One in Qatar

Qatar has a huge affection for huge, powerful fast cars (as you will notice when you see a huge white landcruiser racing down the wrong side of the road towards you!) Add that to the desire to put the tiny desert country on the map and it's no suprise that Qatar has it's eye on a possible future Formula One race.

Qatar has announced that it will upgrade Losail International Racing Circuit to allow for a possible future Formula One race. However, it is William's move into Qatar that our writer investigates in our latest article: Williams Formula One in Qatar.

Formula One Simulator.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fireworks on the Corniche

Vodafone is celebrating the end of its first year in Qatar, and to say thanks to their customers are holding a display of fireworks beginning at 20.10 on Saturday 16th January. See you there!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Is Qatar the Most Polluting Country in the World?

Not in the sense of rivers of acid as one might see in China.

But if you believe in climate change and global warming, Qatar is probably your worst enemy.

Qatar is the top emitter of Co2 in the world. And not just by a smidgeon either.

At a massive 66.6 tonnes of CO2 per person, Qatar emits almost double that of the nearest culprit, the United Arab Emirates.

And close to three times as much as oft-criticised America.

At least, that's according to the clipping sent in by one Qatar Visitor reader.

Graph illustrating the amount of CO2 emitted by the top polluting countries in the world.The source is the World Resources Institute's Climate Analysis Indicators Tool.

For those who live in Qatar it's no suprise.

Lights blaze all night, while landcruisers are slowly being cast aside in favour of even more ridiculously large vehicles.

And with the price of petrol around 20 cents per litre, and most Qataris (and many expats) getting free electricity, there's little incentive to be efficient.

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Qatar Visitor Friends


Saturday, January 09, 2010

Scientology in Qatar?

Scientology has been described as a cult, its religous beliefs are based on an alien who came to earth, it has been atracked for defrauding its followers and in Britain it has been forced to register as a business rather than as a religion, with its charitable status forcibly removed.

Hubbard stall at the Book Show.
Yet the books of the person who started this religion are now on display in the book festival of Qatar, a conservative Islamic country.

Works by Hubbard.
When I asked the seller about the books, he told me that they were all pre-scientology. Not all were fiction, though, some were self-help books for children and adults.

These included the way to happiness, which according to Wikipedia is frequently given out to followers of Scientology. It's also a book which caused controvery in the US, after Scientologists attempted to distribute free copies to school children.

The way to happiness.
Also according to Wikipedia, it was published in 1980, 27 years after Scientology had started.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

An Interview With Vodafone

We were recently fortunate to talk to the CEO of Vodafone, Grahame Maher, about why Vodafone came to Qatar, how they are doing here - and how they see themselves as measuring up to Qtel.

Grahame goes fairly easy on Qtel, although he does argue that the company was too slow to respond to impending competiton and that the company's promotions only benefit a portion of their customers.

He also implies that Qtel's billing system is unclear, and that customers feel tricked after receiving large bills.

Of course, Grahame is unashamedly baised against Qtel, but we'll be happy to offer Qtel a similar interview if they are interested. (If there are any Qtel people reading this you can get us on admin@qatarvisitor.com :) )

Click here to read a summary of the interview or here to read the full interview.

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Friday, January 01, 2010

Qatar Visitor Jobs Board

After several months of development we have now launched our Qatar Jobs Board.

We are really pleased that, thanks to our email lists, after just a few days we have over a hundred jobs posts and several hundred users.

Here's why you should check it out too:

For Job Seekers

  • browse or search job opportunities
  • set up job email alerts - either for specific jobs or for all jobs
  • build an online profile and upload a CV so that employers can find you
Click here to access the board and find jobs in Qatar.

For Employers
  • post an instant job - no registration required
  • sign up and post unlimited jobs
  • browse CVs or set up a CV alert
  • start an online conversation with potential job applicants
Sign up now and get one year's membership - for free!

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