Qatar isn’t a normal country
Qatar isn’t a normal country CREDIT: ©IVAN KURMYSHOV – STOCK.ADOBE.COM/IVAN KURMYSHOV
Oliver Smith, digital travel editor
3 OCTOBER 2019 • 12:15PM
The eyes of the world (or at least the eyes of those who like to watch people running, jumping and throwing) are on Qatar. The little Middle Eastern nation is hosting a World Athletics Championships that has been soured somewhat by poor attendances and stifling temperatures. But what else do you know about Qatar, besides the fact that it is hot? Here are a few nuggets of information to impress your friends with.
1. It is the richest country on the planet
Qatar’s per capita GDP is $130,475, according to the International Monetary Fund. That’s some way ahead of Luxembourg, in second place, with $116,808. Having the world’s third-largest natural-gas and oil reserves, despite being geographically smaller than Yorkshire, certainly helps.
Qatar Airways. Better than Ryanair
Qatar Airways. Better than Ryanair
2. And possesses the world’s greatest airline
Qatar Airways recently scooped the top prize at the annual World Airline Awards, dubbed the “Oscars of the aviation industry”, regaining a title it last held in 2017, having also won in 2011, 2012 and 2015.
3. It belches out more CO2 per capita than any other country
That’s 43.9 tonnes a year, which puts it just ahead of Curacao and Trinidad and Tobago. Running an oil-rich and futuristic metropolis on the edge of the desert isn’t synonymous with ecology, it would seem.
4. But it’s the safest on Earth
Risk averse? Qatar is the country where a natural disaster is least likely to strike, according to the World Risk Report. The most dangerous? Vanuatu, followed by Tonga and the Philippines.
5. It’s no good for lofty views
There are no hills in Qatar. In fact, the country’s average elevation is just 28 metres. Only the Maldives nestles closer to the sea.
6. Except from its skyscrapers
The Aspire Tower is the tallest of Qatar’s skyscrapers, at 300 metres. Like most things, it is found in the capital, Doha, and has an observation deck on the 62nd storey.
7. It has a gigantic Nobu
There are a remarkable 42 branches of Nobu, and its Doha outlet is one of the biggest: 26,000 square feet, to be precise. It sits on the water at the Four Seasons hotel.
8. Or else there’s a 100-metre buffet
For sheer gluttony, the Doha Marriott has a 100-metre buffet, offering everything from a full English to sushi and tacos.
9. It has a weight problem
Which won’t surprise you after learning about that giant buffet. Qatar is one of the 20 most obese nations, according to the CIA’s World Factbook, even trumping the US for portliness.
10. Men outnumber women. By a lot
There are 3.41 men for every woman in Qatar. Why? Because it’s a nation built by immigrants, most of whom are young and male (and are probably helping to build a stadium for the 2022 World Cup right now).
11. Everyone lives in the city
It is also one of the most urbanised places in the world, with 99 per cent of residents counting themselves as town or city dwellers. Only a handful of territories, including Hong Kong, Singapore and Bermuda, can top it.
12. There are no trees
Well, there’s no proper forest anyway. According to the World Bank’s definition, “forest” accounts for 0 per cent of six countries: San Marino, Nauru, Gibraltar, Qatar, Greenland and Oman.
13. But there’s art
The Museum of Islamic Art is one of Doha’s biggest draws, and the building itself, designed by the late Chinese-American architect I M Pei (who also created the Louvre’s glass pavilion), is the most striking in the city. Our expert guide to the city explains: “Inside, the vast space is a clever mix of New York’s Guggenheim and Istanbul’s Yeni Camii mosque. The space means exhibits are given room to breathe, and the lighting creates a lovely sense of peace and escape, particularly when it is 50C outside.”
14. And its airport has a giant teddy
Lamp Bear by Swiss artist Urs Fischer sits inside Hamad International Airport and is “a playful piece that humanises the space around it and reminds travellers of childhood or precious objects from home,” apparently. It cost $6.8m.
15. It is easy for Welsh visitors to reach
Fun-loving, down-to-earth Cardiff couldn’t be more different from futuristic, oil-rich Doha. But since May 2018 the two cities have been linked with a daily flight, courtesy of Qatar Airways. Do the rugby-mad residents of the Welsh capital long to explore the souks and skyscrapers of Doha? Are Qatari businesses itching to invest in South Wales? We can only wonde