Archive for June, 2010

Smoking in Qatar

Who smokes?

It is not considered acceptable for Qatari women to smoke. Shisha (see below) is generally considered more acceptable, but most Qatari women still do not smoke Shisha in public. Not all Arabs share this view, and it is common to see Lebanese families enjoying a shisha together after a pleasant meal in Souq Waqif!

Attitude

Qatar has an active anti-smoking policy in place, and an anti-smoking unit at the Supreme Council of Health to enforce it. Surgeries and hospitals are festooned with posters and images and there are strict anti-smoking laws in place.

Laws and Regulations

It is illegal to smoke in enclosed public places such as malls and most restaurants and cafes. While the law has at time been openly flouted, more recently very hefty fines have been handed out to people breaking the law; in April 2010 $14,000 in fines were handed out.

It is, however, legal to smoke outside at cafes and restaurants, and with its sunny climate that means the restriction is not a huge problem for most of the year. In some restaurants there are also completely enclosed areas where smokers can enjoy their cigarettes.

Despite the regulations on public places, it remains legal to smoke in bars, and the bars are just as smoky as the pubs and nightclubs of the UK and America in the past.

Taxes and prices

Despite the anti-smoking stance taken by the government, prices remain low when compared to the UK or the US. A pack of 20 Marlboro in a local shop will set you back around 7 or 8 riyals or around $2.

Shisha

Shisha is the local name for the  hookah or water pipe, also known as hubbly bubbly or the  narghile. It is commonly thought to be safer than smoking, with smokers believing that the water strains the impurities out of the smoke. This belief has survived for centuries, with legend stating that the physician Hakim Abul Fath invented the device for the Emperor Akbar in order to render the Emporer’s smoking habit ‘harmless’.

Whether it is safe or not remains controversial. Some anti-smoking groups maintain that it many times worse than smoking, and that the tin foil used may add carcinogens to the mix. In addition, if not properly cleaned water pipes at cafes may harbour harmful bacteria which can be passed from customer to customer. However, websites like the Sacred Nargile maintain this is pseudo science, denying that Shisha is more harmful than cigarettes.

Electronic Cigarettes

Although electronic cigarettes are banned in neighbouring Saudi Arabia and the UAE, there does not seem to be a strong policy on them in Qatar. While you can not buy the devices directly in Qatar, ECigaretteDirect, a British electronic cigarette company, supply the electronic cigarette directly to Qatar via Aramex.

Marijuana

While it is available, Cannabis is illegal and usage or drug dealing will lead to a prison sentence. We strongly recommend that you do not use cannabis during your stay in Qatar.

Al Dar annoy Zig Zag tower owners yet again

Al Dar frustrates the hell out of me and some of the other apartment owners. Not only is Zig Zag still not in the state that it was promised (underground parking has leaks and is filthy, ‘recreation’ area looks unfinished, the damn fire alarm still rings randomly, and elevator L1 is broken (door opens and shuts twice before allowing you to press the floor you want to go to), but now they think that they can do whatever they want in the building.

1) We’re supposed to vote for a new maintanence company and the owners/tenants still haven’t had a transfer yet (who wants to bet they want to try and keep the ownership? They’re making a fortune after all since they’re pocketing the money rather than actually spending it on the building).

2) They don’t do regular sweeps and companies keep putting their marking materials around

3) The security guards are just for show. They just sit there, allow cars to block the entrance and exits, and love just stare at you rather than greet you.

4) They cost cut at any chance they get! (all you have to freaking do is turn down the a/c by ONE degree Dar. ONE degree!

5) They think they actually have the right to tell owners how to live in the tower!

Let’s talk about my last point. I love rules that make sure that everyone’s happy but some of the things they do are ridiculous. I went to the pool today to be surprised at the fact that the filter isn’t on, the pool lights aren’t on (couldn’t find the switch), and was disgusted by the ugly flamingo peach walls they had painted as usual. On the door were a few notices by a company offering swimming lessons. At first I was annoyed that Dar allowed a company to advertise their services by sticking an A4 paper on the glass but then noticed another note by the same company. It was a list of rules for swimming in the pool. I agreed with many but a few just aggravated the hell out of me.

One rule said that guests had to get permission from the management before being allowed to use the pool. Wait what? I am expected to ask the management their permission if I have friends over? Screw that!

Another said that people with long hair (that’s relative but I’ll let it slide), have to wait bathing caps…

Another rule said that people were not allowed to swim solo…. So I guess if you’re living alone you’re pretty much screwed since you have to call the management and if they say no then the President has spoken.

Give us some damn seats to sit on by the pool! Give us some damn shade! Give us a tiny bit of quality!

Aha! So it’s Dar posing as another company? Did they set up another company just to make some MORE money by teaching swimming? PLUS they think that they own the pool? *sighs*

Anyway, I’m just biding me time. They’re not going to take over the building for another year. I’ll fight it with every bone in my body.

They already messed up a beautiful building and I can guarantee that I’ll never buy a property from Al Dar again. I advise you all not to either.

ILQ sponsors Fiesta Pinoy 2010

I really appreciate the Filipino community in Qatar. They work hard, they’re fun, they’re friendly, and they’re amazingly social!

So when one ILQ’s supporters told me that they wanted to spread some ILQ love, it was my pleasure to give them some support! I’m definately going to try and make Fiesta Pinoy 2011.

A few photos:

More here: ILQers go to fiest pinoy 2010

Hukoomi (Qatar eGovernment) has a new layout

This was a bit of surprise. Hukoomi now has a new layout and design. Feels more blog like. I kind of miss the older design.
(For those that don’t know what it is, it’s a page for people to renew visas, pay traffic violations, renew documents etc..)

What say you?

Visit Hukoomi at www.hukoomi.com

Why am I doing all of this?

Someone asked me why I was doing everything that I do with ILQ. Reasons?

  • I want Qatar to be the country that I ‘WANT’ to have my children grow up in.
  • I want to bridge the gap between locals and expats
  • People used to say “Qataris are the most hospitable people in the world”. I want us to reclaim that title.
  • I want to be vocal about the issues that people are either too lazy to talk about or worried that they don’t have the right to talk about.
  • I want to give back to the expat communities that leave everything back home to come to my country. (We’re not debating the reason why different  people are here)
  • The Emir has done so much for us Qataris. Shouldn’t Qataris take some of the load off of his shoulders? When we pick up our passports, we’re reminded with a leaflet that each citizen represents his country.
  • I want Qatar to improve. (Better service, hard work, quality of life, or even better, for things to actually make SENSE)
  • I want to bust some myths and disprove stereotypes
  • I want to encourage a different style of thinking
  • I DON’T want my children to grow up thinking that I never did anything worth while in life.

Alright bed-time. The more I write, the more sappier I get :P

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.