ILQ logo evolution – look at how we’ve changed

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Thought this was pretty interesting. ILQ’s passed it’s 5 year anniversary and I thought it would be nice to look at how the ILQ logo has evolved! To many people, we’ve evolved the logo so subtly that you probably wouldn’t have noticed unless you see the logos side by side.

We’re at the point where we’re thinking if we need to mix things up a little with our logo as a whole, what do you think? Have any suggestions or design ideas you want to share?

 

logoevolution

Back from Eid – a little update on what’s new

I’m back from Eid after spending some time with a friend in London! I hope you’ve all had a great time too. I’ve been bad at keeping my blog up to date, but I’ve got a good reason! I’ve been working hard on partnerships with some great companies, creating loads of QTips with the team (thanks for all the support and helping us get loads of viewership by the way!), and we’re working on new shows, new series like our Top 10 lists on the website, working on the mobile version of ILQ and some amazing apps.

So yes I’ve got an excuse :)

We’re always looking for more people to join the ILQ team though, so if you’re enthusiastic, passionate, and want to make the world a better place, then let me know. We’ve supported LOADS of charitable causes since we started. We’re so proud that we’re a website that spends profit we get to help the community. That was always the goal. To create a great ecosystem where the community helped itself through our portal.

Thanks to the interns and volunteers that spend time with us, we managed to grow into a fantastic network that’s much bigger than just ILQ itself.

Having said that, bare with me and I hope we’ll be able to share some cool new stuff with you soon.

Answering World Cup 2022 Concerns

This is something that really blows my mind. When I read articles about Qatar and why the country should lose the World Cup, I’m shocked at the amount of utter rubbish I read. It looks like journalists no longer find it necessary to back up their statements with facts or write with a bit of integrity. Let me also say that I am not a professional journalist, and I’m just a blogger sharing his opinions. I also don’t have any priveleged information, what I know is what’s been shared with the public.

What I read is a lot of hate based on stereotypes. The number of times I’ve read that we shouldn’t have the World Cup because we’re Arabs, Muslims, or Terrorists, is a sad reminder of the incredibly racist world we live in. Respond to one issue, and the topic is instantly changed. I for one can tell you that Qatar is NOT perfect. We’ve got loads of things that we need to work on, but you tell me ONE country that’s perfect. The nation is quite young and we’ve seen some incredible developments in the past 15 years. I guess that when people see the lights, skyscrapers, fancy restaurants, and beautiful projects, they forget that Qatar is a developing nation. 

The US and UK have had hundreds of years to go through to try and sort themselves out (spoiler alert, they still have issues), but the point is, they’ve had the opportunity to rectify problems such as sexism (which still exists), racism (which still exists), and elitism (which still exists).

You know what word you read most often in articles related to Qatar and the World Cup in papers such as the Sunday Times and The Guardian? Alleged. Let me define that for you, (of an incident or a person) said, without proof, to have taken place”. The key part in that definition is ‘without proof’. 

Let me give it a go. Someone, somewhere, who prefers to remain anonymous, has claimed that The Wednesday Guardian allegedly funds hate crimes. Does that make it true? No. During the time that the allegations are being investigated, and proven that they weren’t true though, guess what’s happened? The damage has been done. The idea has been planted. Is this in any way fair? Why is it that we always hear that every person is innocent until proven guilty, yet the roles have been reversed with Qatar? To many (not all), we were guilty until proven innocent.

I then read sensational articles which, to me, throws responsible journalism out of the window.
The Independent says “Qatar 2022: Fifa investigation into World Cup vote ‘ignoring the new evidence’, critics claim”.

Wait, what? According to Associated Press, Garcia told FIFA’s congress of 209 member countries that “The vast majority of that material has been available to us for some time.” So what I understand is that the ‘evidence’ is already in play, not being ignored.

I also read articles claiming that hundreds of workers could die with the construction projects related to the world cup. In fact, people commented on this before a single stadium or World Cup project started. It’s great to know that there are so many Nostradamus type people out there, but how do you know? In the US 4,628 people were killed on the job in 2012, 806 of them were in construction and a majority (around 35%) of the deaths were due to falls. In 2012, 35 deaths were due to falls in Qatar. Either way, I would hope that Qatar is doing everything in its power to ensure that injuries and casualties are kept to a minimum no matter where you’re from. One organization in Qatar that works towards training workers to stay safe is the Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHO). I didn’t need to do much research but online I found that Lusail City (a huge new project) has it’s General Requirements for Construction Health and Safety, publicly published here. It mentions that OHSAS 18001 is a minimum for health and safety requirement management.

Workers rights is something that’s incredibly important. There are locals and expats who live here and want to see change. The state has been working on changing legislation, building special task forces to investigate rights abuses, and is working on ensuring people know what their rights are in the first place.

Here are some government enforced rules to make sure that laborers are protected.

1-     Taking someone’s passport is ILLEGAL. If someone takes your passport, you can report them to the government and the organization will be fined.

2-     Workers may NOT work during certain hours when the sun is at peak or above a certain temperature

3-     All work sites need to ensure that workers have access to water, safety equipment and that they follow Health and Safety Regulations

4-     All employees must be paid on time. Employees can report when they have not been paid.

5-     Laborers who work under the sun during summer should not exceed 5 hours in the morning shift and never beyond 11:30am. More info here

Don’t forget that Qatar cooperated with Amnesty International where in other countries in the region, they weren’t even allowed into the country. The way I see it, Qatar’s saying, help us identify the issues so we can fix them.

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I thought that I’d take the time to respond to some of the comments I read online.

Qatar’s so small!

So what? I didn’t realize that having to travel a 1000 miles between stadiums was part of enjoying the match.

If size matters, then perhaps FIFA should add the geographic land size into their list of requirements. Oh but they can’t, because Qatar is part of the World and it’s called the WORLD Cup.

 

It’s hot!

How many countries in the world have a similar climate to Qatar? So is it fine to exclude all of them too? There are loads of people who actually live in this country already (2.2m in fact). I agree, it does indeed get hot. However most people aren’t hanging out during the mid day sun they’re indoors; or actually yesterday many were at the beaches when I went to Fuwairit (I recommend checking it out, that’s where the turtles lay their eggs too by the way).

Having said that, there are some awesome things happening here to make things more comfortable. Go to our traditional Souq Wagif and water mist is sprayed to keep you cool, the new Msheireb – Heart of Doha project is built in a way to block the sun and has automatic shades so people can enjoy walking around and shopping outside,   oh and the stadiums will have state of the art cooling technologies (some of which are already implemented since 2008). To take things a step further, the country’s also going to share the technology with other countries that need it.

Is it possible? Yes it is possible. Not only do stadiums in Qatar already have cooling, but I remember watching a video on YouTube about Stadiums in Texas that have cooling too. Go check it out.

 

Oh but I’ll have respect the country’s laws!

We all have to respect the laws of any country that we’re in right…? 

 

Qatar has a campaign to force people to cover up!

Wrong! A group of people in Qatar, put together a cause, to request people to dress modestly when it public. It’s not a campaign by the government or the state. It’s a group of Qataris, in Qatar, asking that people who visit Qatar, dress modestly. Nothing more. Do you have the right to ignore their request? You could. I for one like to respect the people in the country I’m visiting. You’re not planning to dress like Borat in his *cough* outfit right?

 

It’s a dry country, I want to drink!

You can drink! Qatar isn’t a dry country. Qatar does have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to drink driving though. You can go to QDC and go buy a crate of beers if you want. You can go to a club or a hotel and enjoy your time. The only thing you can’t do is drink out on the streets. Having said that 1) There are special fan zones that will be much more lax with the rules and 2) are you here for  the football or not?

 

What are you going to do with all the stadiums? It’s a waste anyway.

Qatar’s said that stadiums will be dismantled and then rebuilt in other countries; in Africa for example. I think that’s pretty cool don’t you?

Qatar won’t let Israel be a part of the World Cup

The government has already stated that Israel would participate. In fact, Israeli athletes had competed previous in Qatar during the Tennish championships and the 2010 Indoor Championships.

But women have no rights in Qatar

Well I can’t speak for the whole of the Middle East, but here in Qatar, women absolutely have rights. A majority of Qataris who graduate from university are female. We have amazing female leaders such as Her Highness Sheikha Moza, Dr. Hessa Al Jaber the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, Buthaina Al Ansari a leading business woman, Aisha al Mudhaihka the CEO of Injaz, an organization to encourage entrepreneurship and personal growth, and the list goes on.

 

But you guys have a population of only 2.2m

So what? Why can’t Qatar host the World Cup if we’ve only got 2.2m (as of today)? I don’t understand.

 

It’s not fair, Qatar’s rich, so they could campaign more.

Why is it not fair that the country can afford to campaign? Not many people knew about Qatar until we were bidding for the World Cup, it meant that we needed to share what our vision is, what we’re all about. The goal here is simple, to unite people under the banner of football. Why is it a bad thing that Qatar has more money? Doesn’t it mean that more will be spent on making sure that the event is amazing? Doesn’t it give confidence that Qatar can actually afford to turn all the promises made into reality?

 

Qatar lied, they said it would be done during summer, now they want to move it to winter.

No, Qatar didn’t ask for it to be moved to winter. Qatar said that IF FIFA wanted to move the World Cup date, they wouldn’t be against it.

 

Look let’s get this straight. Yes Qatar has issues. Yes they’re being worked on. Yes the people want Qatar to be a country the World can be proud of.

We read about some people demanding for a revote, but if the problem is that we have issues to resolve, then shouldn’t the demand be that we sort things out instead? Let’s all wait for the investigation report to be announced (with  the evidence of course) and until then, rather than slam Qatar, help Qatar become a better place for everyone.


All Qatar is asking for, is an opportunity to host an amazing World Cup event. All I’m saying is, give us a chance. 

 

 

Is this the year of YouTube content creation in Qatar ?

I’ve been talking about the importance of content creation that’s hyper local. Around a month and a half ago, I spoke at Northwestern’s special event about Big Data and the Qatar Media Industry panel before that.
It was a topic that pulled in quite a great crowd. It was surprising to me though how there’s so little data out there. More interestingly though, that there were so few people contributing to the creation of content that actually rakes in results. I thought I’d share a few stats from a slide I presented.

68% – % of users who watch YouTube on mobile (compared to 18% last year)

10m – The number of impressions needed to comfortably monetize (if you don’t have a niche target audience)

6th – ILQ is the 6th most watched channel and 2nd most viewed brand on YouTube

1.6m – The number of views on ILQ’s channel

50,000 views = $30 Yep, Google gives you around 30 USD per 50k views. Not much of a business case if we’re to encourage more local content creation. For a country like Qatar, you’re not going to be making very much since if you’re targeting the local market, you’re not going to make more than perhaps 150,00 views per video. 300 Riyals is probably enough to cover a meal or two for the team.
YouTube should be helping, but they’re not. Actually YouTube sent over a representative to Qatar during an event at QNCC where they spoke about how they would love to see more people create videos in the Middle East, and of course, in Qatar. However it’s all talk in my opinion. They haven’t really done much to incentivise anyone.

1- When people create content, more often than not, they hope to cash out. People want to make money or get famous so that they can eventually make money. It’s not a bad thing, people need to make a living and making money means that people can invest in creating higher quality content

2- As mentioned the revenue generated per impression on YouTube (there’s different ad revenue models by the way) is something like Read the rest of this entry »

We’ve launched a new show! #QTips

I’m excited to share this new YouTube show that we’ve been working on called QTips (we’re actually launching three new shows and this is the first). It dawned on me and Hamad one day (during a recording we were doing on ILQ Radio) that there’s a lot of people that simply don’t know what’s considered ‘right’ or polite in our culture. When I travel to a foreign country, I actively ensure that I am as respectful as possible of that country’s rules and way of life.
I remember that during a trip to Japan I had visited this World Heritage marked temple. I entered by standing on the doorways step and suddenly heard screams, “No No! That’s rude!”, so I quickly jumped in (I didn’t want to extend the length of my disrespect) and heard “Noooo! You shouldn’t enter with your left foot!”, so I jumped out thinking that I could give this another go and heard gasps and one woman told me that “it’s rude and bad luck to exit from the entrance”. There was no winning here. I might as well have slapped a monk in the face while I was at it.

Anyway! I thought it would be great to answer questions that the expat community asked and the response was amazing! A few questions were:

  • What do you wear under your thobe?
  • Is it alright for men and women to shake hands?
  • Can you explain arabic coffee etiquette?
  • What’s the story behind nose kissing?
  • Why do you wear different color thobes?
  • Some men carry beads in their hands, why do they do that?
  • Why do men dress in white and women dress in black?

Of course the questions go on and on and it further supported the fact that although we think that some things go without saying, people simply don’t know.

So here’s the first episode of #QTips, we’re starting off with something nice and light.

What do you think? Like it? Have your own question? Please do share and comment, because that’s what keeps me going :)

Check out our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/iluvqatar or our VIDEO section at www.iloveqatar.net

The NEW and IMPROVED ILQ Website is ready – How did I get there?

I’m super excited. This has been a project I’ve been working on for ages.

First let me explain where we came from. ILQ was a site that started out as a quick and general guide where I gave people insight as to life in Qatar. It started off pretty simple and as people appreciated hearing about Qatar from a Qatari, the platform grew. I wanted to create a site that people could  have input on. So when some people asked me to create a forum. A forum was created. When people asked for an events section. An events section was created. When people said they didn’t like how many links there were, we created a better menu structure. What had happened in quite a short period of time is that more and more people relied on the content that the site had. We grew exponentially. To cater to demand, I ended up having to literally piece different scripts together. Actually, the old ILQ was a mix of THREE different sites designed to be linked together. Honestly, I’d go as far as to say that in the back end, it was a Frankenstein of a site. It became really difficult to try and migrate to a new CMS because there wasn’t really anything that could handle what we wanted to do. Even more problematic was that we had so much content, it was hard to shift everything over without losing anything.

So then came the challenge from you all. I asked people what they wanted; a site that was faster, less sections, more organized, simple to use, and even easier to share. How do we create a brand new site and achieve all that? Honestly? We went through THREE developers to try and achieve what I had envisioned. I wanted a site looked clean, a mobile version (coming soon by the way), all the old links to still work, and to have a simple back end as well. I was so frustrated with some of the designs that were sent over by different companies, that I ended up putting designs and layouts together myself (self taught photoshopper here!).  The task wasn’t easy. In fact the first development company had to ditch the project because it was too much to handle! However I’m glad to say we found a great development and design team that understood exactly what I was looking for and they are amazing! (Shout out to Oliver and Daria!).

What made things super difficult was the fact that we never released focused on making money. Whatever profit I did get out of ILQ, I used to support charitable causes and the community. It was also hard getting funding and I resorted to spending what I had saved. At one point I had tried getting a loan from the bank but sadly it was hard selling a digital start up here in Qatar. Banks wanted to loan you funds for capital. Physical assets. We’re a digital company. I remember speaking to an incubation panel at one point and I was told “you need to decide, are you a business or a charity” (that was because I didn’t want to focus on money only and focus on the community). It was a turning point for me because I stood my ground and said “why can’t I do both? Why can’t I create a great business AND help others?”. I wanted to bridge the gap between expats and locals, create a resource where the community could share great content, and become a website that could people live (and enjoy) life in Qatar. So that’s where we are today!

The site is by no means perfect, there’s still a lot to do, I’m sure we’ll encounter issues and scramble to fix stuff, but we’ll get there. We’ll get to the point where everyone can be proud of what we’ve achieved. (That’s why I need all your feedback! Thread here: http://iloveqatar.net/forum/content/new-ilq-feedback)

So without further adieu, I now present to you some before and after shots of the site :D Blood, sweat and tears went into it, so inshallah you like it!

Homepage

Before:

 

After:

 

 

Events

Before:

 

After:

 

Restaurants

Before:

 

After:

 

 

There’s load more sections to check out! So please visit www.iloveqatar.net :)

Dear Laborers, Security Guards, Stay at home moms, People in the Office; everyone. Thank you.

Over at ILQ HQ, we’re always trying to think of fun and new ways of getting our message accross to people. Yeah we can do the usual Tweet or Facebook post, but I think that people appreciate the extra effort put into creating guides, microsites, and videos.

For National Day 2013, His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani shared something with everyone. It was going to be about #onelove and making an effort to show appreciation to the expat community here in the country. After all, we’re all coming together to build the future of this nation and help achieve Qatar’s 2030 vision.

With the video, of course we couldn’t cover all segments, but we wanted to highlight the contruction worker, the security guards, the western workers and the Qataris all coming together. Together, we’re building Qatar.

I should mention that the people in the video are considered twitter and online friends, I myself have friends from all national and occupational background. The message in this video, is that we need to support each other. We need to appreciate each other.

Oh and one more thing… Thank you.

We are all White and Maroon [Guest Blog]

This is a Guest Blog by ILQer Yousef AG. You can follow him on twitter at @yousef_ag

 

Qatar Largest Flag

The 18th of December is a day of unity, pride, but above all, nationalism. This is the day national unity was achieved when Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammad Al Thani won autonomy among the many local tribes under his leadership. This is the day to recognize and celebrate Qatar’s forefathers, the heroes of hardship and endurance that worked hard to ensure the unity of their nation.
I am, without doubt, privileged to take pride in this day.And I am not alone.
This is the day that marks yet another year of progression in the realms of politics, economics and social affairs. We, as individuals who live in this country, look at the white and maroon flags that stand high above us and smile with pride. We are the heart of this country. We enrich this country’s essence with our diversity and cultural attachments. We understand this country’s stance because we are in a position to do so: we live here. This is our home. For some, home is temporary, and for others, it is permanent. But the statement still stands.
This is home.

All About Qatar National Day – A day to feel pride

Qatar is building on the number of events to celebrate National Day year on year. There are a number of huge milestones and events that have lead up to this as well. Qatar’s definitely in the spotlight thanks to mega event after event (World Cup, COP18, Arab Spring involvement, Katara expansions, etc… etc…) and Doha will continue to shine bright as long as changes keep happening.

Why are Qataris so proud? Well we haven’t had that much to be proud of for a long time. Our Emir has brought so much change and development to Qatar that it’s something to almost brag about. A typical Qatari will gladly sacrifice a lot for his country. The Emir has done so much to make our lives better, so why don’t we lift the burden off of his shoulders a bit and try to help?

So whether you’re Qatari, American, British, Indian, Philipino, Japanese, Korean, Lebanese, Pakistani, Chinese or any other nationality (let’s face it, Qatar is a melting pot of diversity), please celebrate National Day with us! Let happiness flow through you like a rush of energy. Think positive and have hope for a fantastic future. Think of each firework that goes off on December 18 as the sound of the country’s heartbeat. WE are Qatar.

One common question I’m asked is how is it that Qatar changed National Day’s date? It never changed. They’re thinking of Independence day, which is on the 3rd of September. Here’s some more info about National Day (from QatarNationalDay.qa):

On 18 December 1878, Sheikh Jassem bin Mohamed bin Thani succeeded his father as the ruler of Qatar. With that, Qatar became a country with a vision… a country that would find unity, grow rapidly, and reach toward ever higher heights.

National Day, also known as Founder’s Day, celebrates the rise of Sheikh Jassem as the father and founder of the State of Qatar. And yet this holiday is a mere two years old: it was founded in 2007 to give people an occasion to honour the history and identity of their country, and to commemorate those who have worked and continue to work to make Qatar a great nation.

The 18th of December is a special day – a day of unity for the people of Qatar. We want you to be a part of it!

This year, the country is making an extra effort to thank the expat community here too for all their hard work to make Qatar a better place :)

We’re working hard on www.qatarnationalday.qa again this year (5th year now?) so you can find all the events and great content for National Day.  Until then we’ve got a temporary list going, click here for Qatar National Day event list 2013

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Have an event or activity you want to make sure is listed? Drop the team an email at contact@iloveqatar.net


Check out the World Cup Trophy and the plane

Hey there everyone, I was in the fortunate position to be one of a few people that got to go on the World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca Cola plane. (That’s a mouthful right there.).

I thought it would be interesting to share what I saw, a few cool facts, and vlog while I was unveiling the trophy too! (Tell me, how many people in Qatar would do that for you all?).

Check out the video and please don’t forget to leave me a comment and subscribe. It keeps me going!
Also, thank you so much to all of you followers who have been patiently waiting for the next blog post. I promise that I’ll be getting back up to speed soon, especially since on December 18th, I’ve got a huge SITE WIDE surprise for everyone.

Freedom of Expression

    Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the Qatari Government is a signatory of states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any medias and regardless of any frontiers.

    The Emiri Decision Number 86 of the year 2007 on the establishment of the Doha Free Information Centre marked yet another step towards establishing a State of rights and freedom of speech. The decision stipulated that the Centre be a non-profit organization, headquartered in Doha City, and have the authority to establish other affiliated centres inside and outside Qatar. It is worth mentioning that His Highness the Emir issued a decision in 1998 annulling the ministry of information, giving birth to a new era of freedom of speech where censorship was removed from local media.