A Practical Guide to Doha Country Overview Qatar is an oil-rich peninsula jutting out into the Gulf between Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. The majority of the country consists of sand dunes and salt flats. The city of Doha combines a rich mixture of traditional Arabic and modern architecture. The Grand Mosque with its many domes and the Abu Bakir al-Siddiq Mosque are particularly interesting. The north contains most of the historic sites, including Umm Salal Mohammed, a relatively large village dominated by the ruins of a 19th-century fort. Al Khor is the second-largest city, situated around a natural shallow harbour. On the west coast there are fine beaches at Umm Bab ('The Palm Tree Beach') Dukhan and Salwah near the Saudi border. The south is a region of sand dunes and beaches, offering opportunities to go pearl hunting, or to practise any of a number of watersports. Public entertainment can be rather limited. Live entertainment is infrequent, but some international artists do perform in Qatar Qatar's Cultural background The ruling family The Al-Thani family arrived in Qatar during the early 18th century from the Arabian hinterland and eventually settled in Doha. They were blessed with many strong leaders including Mohammed Bin Thani, followed by his son Qasim, who established the Emirate of Qatar. Qasim chose one of his younger sons, Abdullah, to succeed him. It proved a wise choice and Sheikh Abdullah ruled for 35 years from 1905, seeing Qatar through many difficult times - the departure of the Turks, a protectorate treaty with the British, and the discovery of oil. Sadly he did not live to see Qatar's great prosperity in the wake of the oil boom. This satisfaction was reserved for Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad, grandson of Abdullah, who proved equal to the challenges which sudden wealth presented. It was Sheikh Khalifa who proudly declared Qatar's independence on the 3rd of September 1971, just months before becoming ruler, and putting into effect a planned programme of development which brought free health, education, housing and all the benefits of modern technology to the people of Qatar. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, heir apparent since 1977, is the eighth member of the AlThani family to rule, taking over in June 1995. Born in Doha in 1950, Sheikh Hamad's education was completed at Sandhurst in the U.K. He worked his way up through the ranks of the Qatari armed forces to Commander-in-Chief. He has held the appointment of Defence Minister since 1977. Sheikh Hamad is given credit for the recent renaissance in sporting activities in Qatar, and for raising the country's profile as a tourist destination. General Information Area: 11,437 sq km (4416 sq miles). Population: 544,000 (1998) Population Density: 47.6 per sq km. Capital: Doha. Population: 392,384 (1995). Geography: Qatar is an oil-rich peninsula jutting out into the Gulf between Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. There are hills in the northwest, but the rest of the country consists of sand dunes and salt flats, with scattered vegetation towards the north. Government: Emirate since 1971. Gained independence from the UK in 1971. Head of State: Crown Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani since 1995. Head of Government: Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani since 1996 Language: Arabic is the official language. Some English is spoken Religion: Muslim Time: GMT + 3 Electricity: 240/415 volts AC, 50Hz Communications: Telephone: IDD is available. Country code: 974. There are no area codes. Outgoing international code: 0 Mobile telephone: GSM 900 network exists. Main network provider is Q-tel (website: www.qtel.com.qa). Fax: Available at some major hotels Internet/E-mail: Main ISPs iclude Qatar (website: www.qatar.net.qa). Internet cafes exist in Doha Telegram: The Cable and Wireless Office in Doha (0600-2300) and major hotels provide services Post: Airmail to Europe takes up to a week Press: English-language newspapers include the Gulf Times. The main dailies are ArRayah, Al-'Arab and Ash-Sharq Climate Qatar has a moderate desert climate, with hot dry summers, but mild winters. Rainfall is scarce (an average of 70mm), falling on isolated days mainly between October and March. Winter nights are cool, but temperatures seldom drop below 7°C whilst in summer they can soar to 50°C with humidity in excess of 80%. The daytime temperature during the Conference is likely to be between 25° and 30°. Currency The unit of currency is the Qatar Riy

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