Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Doha, Qatar - Day 2

City Tour on 8th June 2008

Qatar is not as famous as Dubai and it's capital city, Doha is not as develop as Dubai but the Qatar Government had making plans to be at least equal to Dubai in years to come. At present, many investors from Dubai had shifted to Qatar. The country is being divided into 7 municipality and Doha is governed by 1 of them. In the year of our visit, we witnessed a massive construction activities in preparation for the country bidding for world sports event including hosting the 2011 FIFA World cup (won a bid in December 2010). Doha has hosted Asian Games in year 2006, their airport obviously had problem to receive tourist/visitors for any international event. 

The Doha city was made capital of the British autonomy of Qatar in 1916, and became the nation's capital following the independence of Qatar in 1971 from the British. During the early 20th century, much of Qatar's economy depended on fishing and pearling, and Doha had about 350 pearling boats. However, after the introduction of the Japanese cultured pearls in the 1930's, the whole region, including the town of Doha, suffered a major depression and Qatar was plunged into poverty. Poverty state lasted until in the late 1930's, when oil was discovered in the country. However, the exploration and exportation was halted due to the second world war. Today the nation as a whole produces over 800,000 barrels of oil daily.

Manimaran came just in time we were about to check out from the hotel and headed for lunch at our favorite restaurant, Chili. The rented vehicle was also there, thus, not to disappointing the young boy who was so fascinated with Hummer car, Manimaran sent us over to Chili in his car and the other driver went to fetch us after the lunch was over. It was so kind of Manimaran. In a hot summer day of Doha, we traveled in a rented car full of the driver body odor that made us all feeling dizzy and stressful throughout the tour. It was a great reliefs for us when he made a stop at a shopping mall where the children had a fresh air and fun in the circus land.

With uncle Manimaran's Hummer

Let's continue with some important facts of Qatar for my future reference. The exploitation of Qatar's oil reserves after the end of the second world war was to save the city, although it was some time before the source of their current and future wealth, a natural gas was exploited. The source of natural gases really change the country into a different perspective and the economic started to bloom till present days.

Buildings before the booming time were a simple dwellings of one or two rooms, built from mud, stone and coral. However, the Amirs of Qatar were not long in exploiting the new-found wealth. The slum areas were quickly replaced with more modern buildings. As with other countries in the region, in this rush to modernize much of the country’s heritage was lost, and in Doha now there is only a single remaining wind tower, what a loss to the country heritage. 

In 1973, the University of Qatar opened, and in 1975 the Qatar Museum opened from refurbishment of  the ruler's palace in 1912. The Al Jazeera Arabic satellite television news channel began broadcasting from Doha in 1996. The country is currently under a rule of Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani.

By 2010, Qatar had a population of 1.7 million making it as one of the world's fastest developing country. Much of Qatar's oil and natural gas wealth is visible in Doha, which is the economic centre of Qatar. Doha is home to the headquarters of the country's largest oil and gas companies, including Qatar Petroleum, Qatar Gas and Ras Gas. Doha is currently experiencing a very large boom, with the city developing very rapidly, a credit to it's ruler  modernization program.

Sick face

According to the BBC news, as of late January 2007, Doha is now a more expensive city than Dubai in terms of real estate prices. This rate of growth has led to projects such as the Lusail City project, which is being constructed north of Doha and eventually house 200,000 people. Construction is also booming in Doha, a result of increasing corporate and commercial activity. This is most visible with the changing skyline of the city, as Doha has over 50 towers currently being constructed, the largest of which is the Dubai Towers. 

Another sick face

Doha was included in Fortune's 15 best new cities for business for the year 2011. Their project includes Aspire Tower, Education City, Museum of Islamic Art (similar museum I visited in year 2011 in Dubai), The Pearl, Luail, Al Waab City, Dubai Towers, Commercial Bank Plaza and Katara beside some of the building that I shared in my blog.

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