While other cities, like Dukhan, Mesaieed or Ras Laffan, are important for Qatar’s petroleum industry, the people working and living in Doha make up the majority of Qatar’s population.
Life in Doha is influenced by a mixture of Arab customs and modernity. Expats can visit the souqs for spices and traditional clothing, enjoy local food and drinks in the streets, and learn something about the sport of falconry. At the same time, however, various modern malls and international hospitals offer excellent services to people living in Doha. All public buildings are air-conditioned, making life bearable during the summer’s extreme heat.
Doha is also home to the most famous Arabian news channel in the world, Al Jazeera, which began broadcasting in 1996. Today, Al Jazeera also offers its program in English to cater to the needs of expats in Doha and its viewers worldwide. The Qatari broadcasting channel now has offices in Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington, DC, amongst many others, reaching over 250 million households worldwide.
Living in Doha means living in a metropolis in the Arabian Gulf region, which is constantly growing and evolving. Doha is prone to rapid economic, social and political developments.
Almost all of Qatar’s hotels are located in the capital, making it the country’s number one tourist destination. Expats living in Doha often find work in the tourist sector, rent accommodation in the luxurious hotels or visit one of the many hotel restaurants. Moreover, Doha’s tourism industry and real-estate sector enjoy many investments from the government as well as from businesspeople.
When expats living in Doha leave Qatar’s capital, however, they will only find very few major hotels. Many towns within easy reach of Doha have not yet developed and may never get the chance. Instead, the city will keep growing until its outskirts reach and merge with other Qatari towns, which will then become a part of Doha.
Doha was declared the capital of Arab culture in 2010, an occasion which was celebrated with different events throughout the year. This goes to show that, besides being the country’s financial and political center, Doha also takes the reins as the cultural capital of Qatar.
Qataris uphold different traditions such as falconry. While in the past, Bedouins used falcons for hunting, it is now mostly a hobby for the rich. The birds are bred in captivity and often have a small radio transmitter implanted under their tail so that the owners can track them. The hunting season usually lasts from October until March. The Saker (hurr) and the Peregrine (shaheen) are the two most popular falcon types.
Qatar also has a rich maritime culture as fishing and pearl-diving were the main contributors to the country’s economy before the rise of the petroleum sector. Many Qatari family trees reach back to the nomad tribes that lived along the coast. Today, the traditional boats (dhow) which were historically used for fishing and trading can still be seen in Doha’s harbor. People living in Doha use them for sports and leisure.
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