Archive for July, 2012

Qatar’s National Color – Pantone 222c (Qatar Red)

A collegue shared an interesting fact with me today. Qatar’s exact Pantone is 222c. I decided that I wanted to find the exact shade and dived online.

Officially known in the color world as Qatar Red (not Maroon!), it’s quite a hard color to print.

It took me a whole hour to replicate the exact shade of 222c (since versions on the web were inaccurate, photoshop’s color profiles kept messing with shades, etc..).

For those interested. Best thing to do is shift to ‘LAB’ instead of RGB, keep it at 8bit, and then go through the swatch (and make a few adjustments using the color picker.)

I also put together the HEX code and RGB corresponding code in case someone wants to match it themselves :)

Here you go!

Invested in The Pearl? Want a Residency Permit (RP)? Here’s the catch. – Updated!

Update: So I emailed the Pearl (specifically TPQ) with some questions that I got answers to.

Q So that I understand, a foreigner can apply for a 1 year RP and extend it to 3 years. What happens after 3 years? Does a person need to reapply or leave the country?
 A After 3 years, the person will only renew the RP through our offices. There will be no need to leave or reapply. It will be the ordinary RP renewal.

Q After the person enters the country, he/she has to get an Exit permit from MOI? So if coming to the country to visit, he/she cannot leave the country without an exit permit? (I think that will turn off a lot of foreign investors)
A No exit permit required at all. (this answers question 3)

Q What is the process for applying for an exit permit?
See answer to question 2.

Q What are the fees mentioned?
 A The fees are QR 300 for the Master Clearance issued from our (UDC) department after the unit is cleared from any outstanding (internal process) and then we apply to the government if hopefully the application gets approved and the visa is issued there will be an amoutn of QR 4,000

 

Wait a minute… so she’s saying (the person who responded to me was a woman) that there is no guarantee to the RP. I wonder under what circumstances the RP would NOT be approved.

Now I should add that it’s great that people don’t need exit permits, but the fees don’t make sense… It’s 200 QR (I think) for a 3 month visa. That’s 800 QR per year. Multiply by 3 and that’s 2,400. It’s CHEAPER to simply come on a visit visa rather than on the RP….

—————————————–

We’re trying to get people to invest in Qatar right? At least I thought the country was hoping to get foreign investors with projects like Lusail, Al Waab City and The Pearl.
One reason many people choose to invest in another country (besides making a profit) is the fact that you become elegible to receive a residence permit. I mean, if I was going to invest in an apartment in London, I’d like to know that I could visit that apartment anytime I wanted to.

So The Pearl, and other developers, announced that foreigners who invest in property in Qatar would be entitled to a Residency Permit. *sound of Angels singing* and all was well in the world. People got excited and flocked to man made islands in Doha, Dubai, and Manama hoping to get a new home, an RP, and quadruple their investment in 6 months. Oh how naive they felt when news came out that Dubai didn’t issue a single RP to investors and weren’t entirely sure they were going to issue them. People gasped. “Oh no! They aren’t keeping their promise?”, people questioned in surprise. People who read those articles then scratched their heads and squinted as the cogs in their heads started to spin until “PING”, a new question was formed. “What does that mean for Qatar?”.

I’ve had LOADS of people ask me what the process was to receive an RP at The Pearl long ago. At the time, UDC wasn’t sure, because there was no process put in place by the government. Quite recently, a friend received the following letter from UDC:

With reference to your inquiry, we would like to inform you that United Development Company (UDC), Master Developer of The Pearl-Qatar (TPQ), has released to all investors on the Island the possibility to apply for Qatari Residency Permits under the new rule that allows a non-Qatari to own real estate and residential property in the country.

The issuance of Residency Permit to the housing unit owners is for 1 year (renewable for three years) and the sponsorship for non-Qatari’s applying for residence permits will be held by the Ministry of Interior, who will also provide exit permits upon departure from the country.

Residence permit will be granted regardless of the number or size of property owned, and for the first time in the region investors are able to sponsor their dependents and next of kin. But in the other hand, this residency permit will not allow to unit owners to work or practice any business activity in Qatar.    

In order to start the processes of your residence permit application

Kindly provide us with required documents as below:

1.      Photocopy of your valid passport / current visa if available.

2.      Photocopy of the Sale and Purchase Agreement.

3.      Hand over date of your apartment.

4.      No objection letter from current sponsor signed by authorized signatory stating that you don’t have objection to  cancel your residence and reissue residence under the sponsorship of the property / if available.

5.      Copy of Computer Card for the company (commercial registration) / if available.

Please be informed that Government fees and The Pearl-Qatar Central Authority Directorate “TCAD”
administration fees are applicable.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have further questions.”

 

Let’s dissect this for a second. So basically they’re saying that you get an RP for a year, extended to 3 years, but THEN what? Do you need to do a dead-run and leave the country and reapply? Your ‘sponsor’ is now the Ministry of Interior who you now have to get an exit permit from. Wait what?! You’ve invested in a property, entered to visit your lovely summer get-a-way in Doha, then need to apply for an EXIT permit to go back home? I guess to many already in Qatar, they’re accustomed to having to get an exit permit, but to the rest of the world I’m pretty sure they’ll be unpleasantly surprised. I mean, think about Mr. Euro-Millionaire who’s buying properties around the world; I’m pretty sure he doesn’t like to be controlled. (I guess the argument here to some would be, if he doesn’t like it, then he shouldn’t invest. I wont go into that right now). I’ve contacted UDC so that they could explain what additional ‘fees’ there are (you’d think that after spending millions on their properties that there wouldn’t be additional costs for an RP), what the process is for getting an exit permit, and how long this whole process will take.

I like to put myself in people’s shoes, so I got to thinking myself. Imagine if I had now bought a home in England. Decided to go visit it for summer, then told that I couldn’t leave the country without an exit permit (oh and by the way, you can’t get a job here either).

It’s a confusing situation. What is the country asking from investors? Do we want people to LIVE in Qatar? Do we want them to enter and spend even more in the country? Do we not want them to leave? Perhaps the answer is simple. Give us your money and get lost.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I’d like to end this with letting everyone know that this isn’t The Pearl’s fault. They don’t make up the rules and the laws in the country. 

 

Ramadan-Mubarak.com everyone! (Tents, Events, and more!) – Ramadan 2012

Ramadan Mubarak! Mubarik Alaykum il shahar.

I hope that everyone has a great Ramadan period, and whether you are Muslim or not, there’s a lot to do in Qatar during this time.

www.Ramadan-Mubarak.com (also accessed at www.ramadan.qa) has launched and it’s even bigger and better than last year’s effort.

Two years ago, we launched a real first…our site got lots of attention by helping people find out about all the wonderful things happening during Ramadan in Qatar. So we had a challenge: How do we take what we did and make it even MORE useful year on year? This year we’ve partnered up with Vodafone again as well as got some support from Katara!

The beauty of www.Ramadan-mubarak.com is that it’s so simple. Not only is it easy to navigate but there are some great features!

We’re Mobile!
It only made sense to create a mobile version of the site. Especially since we partnered up with VodafoneWe took Ramadan-mubarak.com and shrunk the site into a useful mobile tool. It looks and feels like an app as well! So get tap-tap-tapping on your smartphones! Don’t have one? Don’t worry, the mobile version works on most devices! :)  Oh and if you’re a Vodafone customer, it’s free to visit the site!

We’ve got an app for that!
Whether you are on the site or on your mobile, we’ve got a list of great Ramadan-related apps to download. We’ve listed apps for iPhone, Android, and Blackberries. Just click your favourite app’s icon to download!

We’re Dynamic!
The website’s background changes depending on the time of day.
☾ In the morning the sky is dim and a sun rises
☾ During the day the sun shines bright, birds fly around and the wind gently sways the hanging lanterns
☾ For sunset—and because it’s so rare for us to enjoy a beautiful one in real life—our site’s sunset begins 15 minutes before night, so if you’re lucky enough to be on our website at exactly the right time you’ll see a brilliant orange sky.
☾ When it’s time to break your fast, the moon pops out, the lanterns light up, and the stars twinkle.
☾ We’ve also got some fun messages that pop up while you’re on the site. “Whoa, it’s hot outside!”

Why is this special?
Because it’s a fun way of letting people know when its time to break their fast! Don’t have a calendar? Have a calendar but don’t know what time it is? Just visit the site and if you see the moon, you can break your fast. It’s also a tool for kids!

We’re social!
☾ Sharing is caring:
You’ll notice Twitter, Facebook, the ‘Like’ button, and the new Google +1 button on the site. So sharing the site is extremely simple! Go ahead! Click on our LIKE and +1 buttons.
☾ Tents and Events:
-During Ramadan many people meet up at night at various tents and events to be together and socialize. If you’re looking for a calendar of events, then our site is here for you. Our calendar will constantly be updated as we get wind of more events!
-Last year people asked for more events besides simply the ones at hotels, and so we’re working hard to get as much as possible on there! Got an event yourself? Let us know so we can add it to the site!

Send an eCard!
We’ve created some very nice and colorful Ramadan cards for you to send out to family and friends. All you need to do is select your image, type in your message, position the message so that it’s in just the right spot, and click send!
Love the card? You can save it in MMS format so that you can transfer it to your mobile and send it to anyone through your mobile!
Don’t see an image you like? You can upload your OWN image and send it out as an ecard!
We love choices!

Ramadan 101
We know that some people might not know what Ramadan is all about, so we’ve included an “About Ramadan” tab on the site. If you want to brush up on your understanding of Ramadan, then visit this section for: when it is, what it’s about, dates and times, tips about eating, drinking and smoking, dress code, and other special considerations.

Convenient Prayer and Iftar times!
We’ve tried to make your life as easy as possible when it comes to knowing when to pray and when to break your fast.
☾ We’ve got a full Ramadan calendar on our site
☾ You can download the calendar to your phone or desktop
☾ You can register to receive FREE SMS notifications
☾ You can pick up a pocket calendar in store
Prayers, Quran Verses, Tips and Recipes Via SMS
As a new addition this year, Vodafone customers can also subscribe to receive daily prayers and verses from the Quran, audio clips, tips and recipes during the holy month of Ramadan.

Salat package: Receive a prayer and a verse from the Quran daily.
Text SALAT to 97797 to receive this package every day for a month for only QR15

Al Hilal: Receive a prayer, a verse from the holy Quran and an audio clip from your favourite scholar.
Text HILAL to 97780 to receive this package every day for a month for only QR20

Al Badir: Receive a prayer, a God Good name animation, a fasting and health tip and a clip from Al-Afasy.
Text BADIR to 97760 to receive this package every day for a month for only QR25

Sihatik: Receive a daily health tip for FREE.
Text ALTHU to 97799 to receive this message every day for a month for FREE.

Send an eCard!
We’ve created some very nice and colorful Ramadan cards for you to send out to family and friends. All you need to do is select your image, type in your message, position the message so that it’s in just the right spot, and click send!
Love the card? You can save it in MMS format so that you can transfer it to your mobile and send it to anyone through your mobile!
Don’t see an image you like? You can upload your OWN image and send it out as an ecard!
We love choices!


Vodafone customers only for the above. (sorry!)

Are Qatar Airways promotions useless when you need them?

I really want to know if Qatar Airways is an airline that’s trying to mess with customers…. Perhaps it’s just that they’re an airline with a perpetual ‘asterisk’; meaning that there is always a catch with them. I really love Qatar Airways. When things go right, they go great. Love the new planes. Love the fact that they are representing Qatar to the world. iLoveQatar also applauded the fact that they won a best airline award on our social networks. I try to help them so much that I point out mistakes to them on Twitter so that I can help them improve but this time…. I’m just disappointed. I’m going to talk about two situations.

The extra condition of exclusion

They’ve been advertising a great promotion that they have going on for customers. Sending out newsletters, announcing it in the papers, and even adding it to their website’s homepage.

Buy a ticket to certain destinations in a certain time frame and travel within a certain date, and you qualify. (Already sounds a bit messy with the requirements, but I hope that I’m intelligent enough to figure it out.)

According to the special offers page, if I travel from DOHA to LONDON as an Economy passenger, and I BUY the ticket between 3-31 July 2012 and I travel between 10 July and 17 October, then the price of the ticket is 3,130 QR.

Here’s a screenshot.

So I decide to click on ‘BOOK’. I chose the dates 16 August to 25th of August. (I picked those dates since it’s near the end of Ramadan and I figure that I might as well take some days off and make the most of this great offer). Now my flight is BEFORE 17 October and AFTER 10 July. Today is the 16th of July so I’ve tried to make the booking before 21st of July.  However, I’m greeted with the following screen…

The price of the ticket is almost 5,000 QR. That’s a big difference from the special price mentioned right?

So I check out their Terms & Conditions. Besides being a mess to read (there’s something called bullet points you know), I’m disappointed by point 5.
“Promotional fares are not valid during the following period: To all destinations from 16-25 august and inbound flights from 25 August to 10 September”

Another lovely condition applied. This time within the Terms & Conditions themselves. So sadly, I’m unable to make use of this promotion during the end of Ramadan. Of course they know that people will want to be traveling during this period, so they’ve put out a special offer that excludes the travel peak in Qatar itself. *sighs*

 

The one where ‘Up to’ starts from 0%

So this one is pretty much straight forward. In April, Qatar Airways said that if you book between the 17th and 19th of April, you can save up to 25%.

Their rules? Travel between 20th of April and 6th of June (going and coming). So you’ve literally got 3 days to make a decision for a flight, and you got to go and come back within 2 weeks. It’s tight, but fine.

Now on the 16th of April, I was just playing around on Qatar Airways website and was toying with the idea of visiting Korea. (I’ve always wanted to go there). At the time I had plugged in random dates. I chose 25th to 30th of April. Price of the ticket? 5,760QR. I took a screenshot so that I could remember it  for later. (Yes I always take screenshots. I’m a screenshotaholic).

Two days later, the fantastic Qatar Airways promotion is announced. So I  think, “hmm, I wonder… if I could save up to 25% off, how much would a ticket be to Korea now”. So I search… Here’s a screenshot of what I find.

On the left we see that the price of the ticket is 5,760QR DURING the promotion. On the right we see the screenshot I took BEFORE the promotion, also at 5,760QR.

So I take a look at the Terms & Conditions just in case. There’s NOTHING that indicates WHY I wouldn’t be elegible. Take a look for yourself, perhaps I’ve missed something.

Long story short… I’m really starting to have my doubts about Qatar Airways promotions… it’s like they’re created just to get you excited and then disappoint you in the end.  Comments?

Sandstorms and Microdust – Stay Safe – PSA

It’s an extra dusty day toda and it’s also super windy. I thought I’d just write a quick blog so that people know what they should be doing in this kind of situation. I’ve just come back home (had to go to the hospital for a bad stomach) and it’s clear that most are being careful but there are still idiots that don’t seem to care about lives.

- Stay inside if you can. This dust is ultra fine and can get into your lungs.
- If you have Asthma, wear a mask!
- If you absolutely must go out, drive slow, switch on your foglights, and avoid the fast lane. Make sure you take extra care in signaling
- Don’t open any windows, they’ll blow off!
- If you’re walking outside, be extra vigilant, if you are near a building, be careful as things can fall off.

So stay safe :) This’ll pass soon.

Vid:

Pics:

Near Rainbow Roundabout

Photo by Lili Tagud

 

Was probably driving too fast

Photo by @cabreraeh

Olympic Tower in Westbay – Panels fell off

Photo by @thenkencame

A panel that fell off

Photo by @thenkencame

ILQ Minis – Moh’d Fahad Kamal – Qatari Standup

I thought I’d share three clips added to the ILQ YouTube channel.
iLoveQatar.net helped put together Qatar’s first ever comedy marathon and the crowd loved Qatari standup comedian Moh’d Fahad Kamal’s routines :)

I Cancel your Visa

Guys Kissing

No Speak English

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.