Qatar is home to a burgeoning metropolis in the heart of the Middle East and is a country I was proud to call home for 5 years.
Qatar is famous for Oil and Gas, the 2022 World Cup, Hamad International Airport, Oryx, and vast wealth. It’s also known for Falconry, Souq Waqif, and much much more!
Let’s find out about all the things Qatar is known for.
Qatar as a country is almost synonymous with its capital city. If you asked 100 people to name a city in Qatar other than Doha, I don’t think very many could.
It’s no surprise – over 90% of the population lives in Doha, which now comprises nearly 2.5 million people. The city has witnessed incredible growth in recent decades, expanding from a population of less than 500,000 in 2000.
With such a harsh climate and unforgiving desert terrain, over 99% of the people in Qatar live in cities, making it one of the most urbanized countries in the world.
2. The 2022 FIFA World Cup
After such an extended period of international events becoming impossible, many people are looking forward to the World Cup of 2022. For the first time ever it will take place in the Arab world, right here in Qatar.
On top of that, it’ll also be the smallest ever host country, the first-ever winter World Cup, and the first one to be totally carbon neutral.
An absolutely breathtaking amount of investment has gone into preparing Qatar for the games, so attendees and viewers are surely in for a treat.
3. Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways is a world-famous airline that operates across more than 150 destinations. Doha, much like Dubai, is a hugely important hub for international travel and is often people’s first introduction to Qatar.
Qatar Airways’ 5-star flights are known for their luxury and incredible hospitality.
4. Museum of Islamic Art
Perhaps the most famous attraction in Doha for visitors and residents alike is the Museum of Islamic Art.
Here you can find exhibitions and artifacts showcasing over 1,400 years of Islamic history. With a location right next to the waterfront, you can also admire a picturesque view of the Doha skyline.
After you’re done, you can even take a trip on a Dhow (traditional wooden boat).
Qatar is famous for its long history as a center for the production and trade of pearls. For many centuries, pearl production served as the backbone of the economy here. Slowly over time, cheaper pearls from Japan eclipsed Qatar’s pearl industry and petroleum products took over.
The Pearl Carpet of Boroda is thought to have been a gift for the tomb of the prophet Mohammed and is made up of over a million pearls from the waters surrounding Qatar. It was sold at auction in 2019 for 545 million US dollars!
6. Al Zubarah Fort
Al Zubarah Fort is a well-known museum and archaeological site in Qatar that has been granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Here you can dig into the history of Qatar a little and learn more about the pearl diving trade and how important it was to the country.
Although situated around an hour’s drive north of Doha, it’s worth the trip for a truly unique insight into one of Qatar’s oldest settlements.
7. Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)
Following pearls and oil, Qatar continues to be famous for its exports. Liquified natural gas produced by the state-owned Qatar Petroleum company is the current hottest export.
Qatar controls 14% of the world’s natural gas reserves, taking the number 3 spot after Russia and Iran. It’s the second-largest exporter of LNG in the world, and along with oil, petroleum exports account for over 60% of Qatar’s GDP.
8. Al Jazeera Media
The Al Jazeera Media Network, which translates literally to ‘The Peninsula’ is a famous state-run news and media organization in Qatar.
It has a high reputation for its quality coverage of international events in both English and Arabic. It is well-known for being the only news outlet to report the outbreak of war in Afghanistan in 2001.
Statistically, Qatar is one of the safest places in the world. Crime rates are incredibly low, and violent crime is virtually non-existent.
For this reason and many others, Qatar continues to be an extremely attractive destination for expats who are seeking to relocate with their families.
10. Migrant Workers
A huge proportion of the population of Qatar is made up of foreign workers and their families. Over 85% of people are non-Qatari, making Qataris a minority in their own country by a large margin.
The immigrant population is made up of mainly Arabs, Indians, Pakistanis, Iranians, and Filipinos.
Interestingly, this also means that Qatar has the lowest proportion of female population in the world at just under 25%.
11. Souq Waqif
Souq Waqif is a well-known open-air market in the center of Doha. Its towering spire is the subject of many postcards and is a popular hangout for a large number of residents.
A huge variety of products are on offer here from perfumes and souvenirs to spices, hot food, and even pets.
The atmosphere of Souq Waqif borders on the magical around dusk. As the temperature drops slightly, you can sit back and relax at one of the many shisha bars and people-watch while the pleasant smells of spices, shisha, perfumes, and grilled meats waft through the air. It’s also super family-friendly!
Falconry is a famous part of Qatar’s cultural heritage. The nomadic Bedouin people of Qatar have traditionally trained falcons to assist with their hunting efforts, and the practice continues as a hobby for many right to the present day.
Falconry has even been noted on UNESCO’s ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity List’ for the Middle East!
If you take a trip down to Souq Waqif, there’s also a Falcon Souq there, where the birds and all the accessories used for hunting with them can be found.
According to most metrics, Qatar is the richest country in the world per head of population. It has a GNI per capita of over $115,000.
The huge wealth is obvious to see in the state-of-the-art infrastructure, construction projects, and the healthcare system.
Huge oil and gas wealth also means that there are no income taxes and very low unemployment.
14. Al Jassasiya Petroglyphs
Human occupation of the land now known as Qatar is thought to date back to more than 12,000 years ago. The Al Jassasiya Petroglyphs give you a unique insight into the goings-on of one of these ancient human communities.
Here you can find over 800 carvings that act as an incredibly well-preserved snapshot of a human culture much different from our own.
15. Villaggio Mall
Villagio Mall is stunningly designed to look like the Italian city of Venice. It even features a canal complete with gondolas inside the mall!
Alongside the usual supermarkets and high-end designer stores, you can also find a cinema, bowling alley, ice-rink, and food court.
16. Qatari Ownership Abroad
Qataris are well known for splashing the cash. In recent years this has involved The Qatar Investment Authority purchasing the Shard and Harrods in London.
In addition, investments in Miramax Films, Sainsbury’s, and Canary Wharf have ensured that Qatar has become famous for its foreign ownership.
Creating such a diverse investment portfolio means that Qatar is well-placed to weather any storm that may arise from fluctuations in oil and gas prices of the future.
17. Hamad International Airport (HIA)
Hamad International Airport has been described as one of the most luxurious airports in the world. It’s also famous for being awarded “Best Airport in the Middle East” by the SKYTRAX World Airport Awards 6 years in a row!
One of the standout features of Hamad International is its art collections. The Oryx collection, the Arctic Nurseries of El Dorado exhibition, and the Mappemondes gallery are stunning detours to make on your layover and truly unique!
One particular art piece inside Hamad International Airport deserves a point all of its own.
If you have any friends that have flown through Hamad International then you’ll have already seen it. Absolutely everybody loves to post pictures of it on social media!
Lamp/Bear is a huge 23-foot yellow teddy bear made from bronze that sits right in the middle of the terminal. At over 20 tonnes in weight, it makes a huge impression on every traveler through the airport.
And you’d hope so! After being bought at auction for nearly $7 million in 2011, it’s only right that as many people as possible can benefit from the playful creature.
The harsh desert landscape of Qatar naturally limits the number of species that can flourish here. With that being said, there are a few famous exceptions.
The Oryx is Qatar’s national animal, and after conservation efforts, wild populations still roam free today. They are a species of antelope with distinctive long straight horns and a majestic presence.
Qatar’s love of its national animal can be seen throughout the culture – in the logo of Qatar Airways, the mascot for the 2006 Asian Games, and in the naming of countless projects and streets.
20. Doha Corniche
The Doha Corniche is situated on the West Bay and is the vantage point of all of the most iconic pictures of the capital city. It offers a great opportunity for a leisurely stroll and is accompanied by fantastic views of the city’s skyline.
Qatar is famous for such a wide range of sights and types of cultural heritage that the list could never be complete. Did we miss any important elements of Qatar’s culture or history? Let us know in the comments!