Thursday, October 25, 2007

Qatar: A small yet rich country

Over-flying Saudi Arabia, whole of Qatar fitted in my aircraft window but Qatar for one reason or another remained elusive from my business itinerary. With my visit this month, I have now visited all the countries in Middle East and Gulf region.

I arrived in Doha by 7am flight from Dubai and left by same day 8pm flight. Day return flight is much cheaper to the one next day. Qatar airways fly six times to Dubai to Qatar. Qatar Airlines have all new aircrafts and all of them from Airbus. This small country will boast 50 plus aircrafts and like Dubai would have dedicated terminal designed for A 380 flying direct to USA and Australia. Qatar is one of the easy countries to make a business visit. UAE resident can secure visa upon arrival and visa is stamped by immigration officer. What I liked about this airport is there is no separate queue for visa and immigration. The only hitch is they accept the money only against credit card. With no money exchange in the vicinity; I wonder what if one’s credit card doesn’t work?

If one were to ask anyone to name a city outside Doha, most won’t be able to do it. Doha Airport is simple and yet functional. One can say the same about the city. Barring the cornische (sea side drive) most of the Doha doesn’t have opulent display of wealth as in UAE. Qatar population is just one million and with 600K as nationals. Backed up with huge gas wealth, it’s no surprise that Qatar has replaced Saudi as the wealthiest nation in the Middle East in Gulf; it’s not opulent in displaying wealth through artificial fountains and verdant landscaping. It appears Government spends nearly 6.5% GDP on education and 3.5 % on health. With emphasis on Knowledge driven economy, Qatar seem to be taking different path than other GCC countries. BBC and Al Jazira network portrays the inclination of the mindset of rulers. But it still intrigues me that a resident needs exit visa stamp on his passport to leave the country. This exit stamp is issued by sponsor and an employee is at the mercy and whims of his sponsor to het out of the country. Imagine the plight of an employee who has an emergency in the weekend and is unableto locate a sponsor or authorized signatory. But I am sure things will work out in the positive manner Qatar embarks in wooing international investments after the sucess of Qatar Airlines, Doha Asian Games.

Qatar Doesn’t have any night clubs, liquor is banned, there is no FM music station but it has almost all American fast food chains such as Dairy Queen, Taco Bell, Ponderosa, and TGI Friday’s . Perhaps it’s the Qatari way to entertain the American soldiers who have naval base in Qatar.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When are u going to write about Singapore? :-) Zai

12:31 PM  
Anonymous kumarasamy said...

Hi!

It is understood from this review that Doha is only city in Qatar. Precisely Qatar and Doha are one and the same in all sense, right?
Referring to the first para of this review.... it sounds that two vital parameters are missing like Altitude and the angle of inclinationg from your eyes sight...
thanks
kumar

10:19 AM  
Anonymous ipshonlu said...

Hi Milind,

I have never really been to the Middle East, seen pictures and have heard a lot. Sounds like Qatar is a more conservative place. Interesting to note that cities other than Doha are not that well known. Wonderful travel review!!

Take care
Ips

10:20 AM  
Blogger Viva said...

The plural of aircraft got no "S"........

8:47 PM  
Blogger Viva said...

The plural of aircraft has got no "S"!

8:49 PM  

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