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


First look – Al Wakrah Stadium – Video, Pics, and Goals

Alright everyone, a lot of people have been talking about the World Cup 2022 happening in Qatar and one of the most exciting things is the development happening around the country. One of the stadiums that a lot of people have been interested in is Al Wakrah Stadium. Especially since it was one of the final stadiums to be unveiled. Mystery is exciting right?

So I now present to you Al Wakrah Stadium! A 40,000 seater and cooled stadium located 15km south of Doha in Wakrah. (Interesting fact, that’s were fishermen and pearl divers based themselves).

Al Wakrah Stadium 2022

Al Wakrah Stadium 2022

Video:

Also, the Qatar 2022 team shared some stuff with me. They wanted to let everyone know what their goals are (heh heh pun intended). Remember these goals everyone. They’ll have to stick by them!

1- Drive and deliver an outstanding Fifa World Cup Programme. (Yes! I want people to admire Qatar!)
2- Build high quality talent and establish a centre of excellence (Nice, who’s going to be the Qatari Pele?)
3- Deliver an exceptional national and international experience (Not entirely sure what they mean here)
4- Support economic diversification and business environment development (That’s a pretty big mouthful, but it’s related to getting the private sector involved).
5- Promote football and healthy lifestyles (nice, my recommendation is to have more places for people to play football. Like literally, I should be able to call up my friends and say, let’s go play, and then find a field to play in. Right now, I couldn’t even play at Aspire park if I wanted to.)
6- Improve environmental sustainability (They’re committed to LEED, GSAS, and reducing the Qatar carbon footprint. I’d like to know a bit more on the how. The fact that it’s a priority is fantastic though.)

The stadium is also going to be harnessing solar energy to help power as much as possible.

Some other fun facts in numbers.

24-28 is the range of temperature that the stadiums will be at
50 is the maximum number of km between stadiums.
1981 is when Qatar reached the final of the Fifa World Youth Championships for the first time (defeating Brazil and England).
170,000 the number of seats that Qatar will donate to countries in need of sporting infrastructure following the world cup.
50 million the expected per annum capacity of the new Hamad International Airport by 2022

Anyway, I’m excited for what’s to come. I can’t wait for even more projects to be completed. On the way to making the world proud? Hope so!

Get a 10% discount on tickets to Dralion by Cirque Du Soleil in Qatar!

 

Alright everyone, here’s a nice supruise for all you ajeeb ILQers. If you’re interested in attending Cirque Du Soleil’s Dralion, you can now get a 10% discount on tickets! Like the thought of that? Want to know more I hear you say?

Here’s what you need to do!

  1. Go to the Dralion ticketing website www.cirquedusoleil.qa
  2. Click on the ‘BUY; button
  3. Choose the date/seats
  4. Review your purchase and click ‘Continue’
  5. Type in the discount code “ILQ” (has to be all caps)
  6. One you apply the code the price will change and the green check mark will appear. And that’s it!

Want to find out more information about these great event? Click here for timings, the flyer, and details.
Oh and incase you didn’t know the event has been extended too! It now ends on the 28th.

Qatar’s turning the Desert Green

This is fantastic. The goal is to try an create a new ecosystem in the desert which can then evolve into farming technology that could be used in countries that struggle due to the environment.

I recommend giving this a watch.

 

Why did Qatar change their National Day? (A bit of Qatar’s history and Independence)

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.

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 just a few 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.

Now let’s talk about pre-independence. Qatar was in quite a mess during the Arab revolt against the Ottomans. After the Ottoman empire collapsed, Qatar became a British protectorate on 3 November 1916. On that day, the United Kingdom, in order to bring Qatar under its Trucial System of Administration, signed a treaty with Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani. While Sheikh Abdullah agreed not to enter into any relations with any other power without prior consent of the British Government, Percy Zachariah Cox, the Political Resident in the Persian Gulf, who signed the treaty on behalf of his government, guaranteed the protection of Qatar “from all aggression by sea”.

On 5 May 1935, Sheikh Abdullah signed another treaty, which was able to obtain Britain’s agreement for the protection of Qatar from inside as well as any attacks from external forces. Oil reserves were first discovered in 1939. However, exploitation was delayed by World War II.

Now September 3rd is when Qatar officially gained its independence from the United Kingdom and became an independent sovereign state. In 1972, Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani seized power in a palace coup after infighting in the ruling family.

Now you know. September 3rd and December 18 are both important dates :)

A Qatari’s Eid

 I thought that some people may find it interesting to know what goes on in Eid with my family.

The children wake up early in the morning. Excited. Playing. Waiting for the day to start. It’s Eid! The adults lay slumbering in their beds and wake up around 8-9 am (after waking up in the early morning for prayers and going to bed). After a hearty breakfast which consists of eggs, olives, honey, cream cheese, bread, and tea, it’s off for a quick shower and everyone puts on their brand new clothes that were specifically bought for Eid.

Eid is about celebration and about looking your best for your family as well.

It’s off to prayer before heading off to Baba Oad’s (Grand Father) house. All of the 50-60 cousins, 6 aunts and 6 uncles (as well as a huge amount of indirect relatives) arrive. The women go off to the sitting room, the men go off to their sitting room, and the children run around the house.

The general banter is usually along the lines of, “When are you getting married?”, “Why haven’t you been visiting more often?”, “Are you working hard?”, and “What have you been doing these days?”.

Children will come around and ask for Eidiya. This could be anything from 1 QR to 10 QR (more if you really like them ;) ) and then go out to ‘Ayid’ to the neighbours by singing songs and getting a few riyals in return. It’s our form of ‘caroling’.

When the children get back, they sit around and count their new found fortunes and plan what they’re going to buy.

Soon enough, it’s time for the feast. We all sit around the floor and dig into a selected slaughter. It sounds kind of cruel to some, but it’s an animal that is killed the Halal way (the most humane method possible where the animal feels no pain). Rice, drinks, lamb or sheep and chit chat.

After washing our hands, we then return the sitting rooms where we have a nice cup of tea (mint, red, or saffron), and relax.

The adults then slowly each return to their homes or go off to make their rounds to other close friends and relatives and wish them a prosperous future. Kil sina wa inta tayeb or kil am wa int ibkhair (every year and you are fine) is repeated from individual to individual.

What we did was head off to a coffee shop where myself and cousins chatted about memories and teased each other. What I was thinking about this year was that it was sad that the new young generation will not get to experience Eid the way that we did. Not many go out to different homes and mix with other town kids. It’s sad. The price of modernization.

 

Note: This is just a memory from my personal experience. Also read ‘We’re not the Borg!


Photo by Jeff Epp

You may also be interested in:

It’s Almost Eid! 

Eid’s almost here.

 

 

The 2013 list of Qatar’s best burgers

I’ve been wanting to put this together for a while now. Due to the nature of some followers though, let me just say this. I do NOT control your stomach. I’m posting this list of what I think are the best burgers in Qatar because I love burgers. I’m not telling people to eat burgers, this country is fat enough as it is. I’m just saying that if you WERE going to eat a burger, you might as well make the calories worth it.

Also, while this list is sort of in order of most favourite to least favourite, I’m not quite sure I can pick a #1 because these burgers aren’t directly comparable. What do I mean? Well, some burgers are just delicious meals to fill your stomach, some are more of an experience. Do you have your own favourite burger place? Comment in the comment section below!

 

Prime Rib Burger
Kempinski – Westbay

This burger, as I was told by the manager, takes a day to prepare since they grind it, marinate it, and then mix in some secret ingredients (I’m thinking a bit of flour and egg?).

Have you ever heard the expression, ‘the meat melts in your mouth’? It’s not an expression anymore. This burger WILL melt in your mouth. Stay away from their fries though. They aren’t that great and are super salty.

 

Garlic Burger
Butcher Shop and Grill – Villaggio

Alright, here’s what you do. You rock up into the Butcher Shop, grab one of the cushy chairs (trust me, you’ll need it), and order a Garlic Burger (I like mine well done) and ask for a slice of cheese. Then for the side, ask for their steak chips and if you’re a sauce lover, order ALL their sauces. If you don’t want to go crazy and sample all the sauces then order a Garlic Sauce, Peppercorn Sauce, and Cheddar Sauce. Now you’ve got some sauces for your burger and to dip your chips in. Mmmmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking of it.

 

Shack Burger
Shake Shack – Villaggio

This is probably the only burger that I crave for now and then. I literally feel, “I need a Shack burger!”. I’ll mention this up front, sometimes they have bad days and the burger comes out greasier than usual, but they’re more than happy to make you a new one! I love the fresh tomato, fresh lettuce, their special sauce, and how their meat is so juicy. My order? A double shack burger (extra cheese if I’m feeling the need to increase my dairy intake), well done, and some cheese fries. If you do order the cheese fries, ask for the cheese to be on the side so that you have something to dip into rather than ending up with soggy chips. Oh did I mention I love cheese? Watch out though, they try their best to push you to buy ice cream… Delicious burger goodness only please.

 

Wagyu Market Burger
The Market  (W Hotel) – Westbay

Now this is a tough one, because now and then The Market change their burger completely. So far, they haven’t let me down. Let me describe this burger to you. They’re generous with the meat (Australian Wagyu beef by the way), add some caramelised onions, a BBQ like sauce, and a slap of cheese. There’s other stuff on it too like tomato and rocket and stuff, but you’re here to read about the meat. Are you the type of person who likes his/her meat medium well? These guys understand where you’re coming from. Oh their fries are delicious too because they are infused with truffle!

Oh want a bargain? Go down to The Market for their lunch time special (think it was 99 QR). I order their Tomato Soup with Sour Dough bread, The Market Cheese Burger (which comes with russian dressing sauce and crispy onions), and mix it up for desert.

 

Rocket Single
Johnny Rockets – Multiple Locations

Their burger is just a good old fashioned burger. They’ve got their own special sauce, have a ring of onion in it (sometimes too much onion), a nice big slice of tomato, and lettuce. I love how they slightly toast the bun too. They’ve recently launched a Wagyu version of their typical burgers, but trust me, it’s not worth it. I don’t taste the difference. The only thing different is that you’re a few riyals lighter. Since you’re there though, try out their bowl of chili. In my opinion, it’s the best chili in Qatar. Watch out though, sometimes they don’t have the original chili and try and replace it with their ‘home made’ version, so always ask up front.

 

 

Hot Rocks
Fuddruckers – Khalifa Stadium

You’re now saying, “Khalifa…. are you serious? Fuddruckers?”, to which I reply, “Why yes Maam-sir I am!” They have very good burgers. Great value burgers in fact. There are two things to mention here. 1- Try their their Hot Rocks burger. The meat is moist, have delicious chipotle bbq sauce, crispy bits of bacon and pepper jack cheese, they’re generous with all the toppings and you can have as much salad as you like 2- If you’re adventurous, they’ve got a 1 POUNDER. Yes! The burger is as big as a baby’s head. It’s huge. Think you can handle it?

 

 

Salmon Burger
W Cafe (W hotel) – Westbay

Now I’m not really a salmon lover, but ermahgerd, sermern berger! You have to try it! It’s soft but doesn’t fall apart, it’s delicious but with no guilt attached. Order it with a side of Salad, and you’re good to go. Hey wait… I didn’t mean go now….

On a side note to any potential restaurant owners reading this. WELL DONE, does NOT mean burned. Well done means that the meat should be brown (no pink). You can still have a well done but juicy burger! Just saying.

I’ll be updating this list as and when I discover delicious burgers worthy of the title.

 

Other notable burgers (because the community sent these in) are:
- Elevation burger (It didn’t make my list because the fries are drenched in oil, went three times and twice my order was wrong, and the place just smells like grease. The burger is good, but too oily).
- K108 (This place has a nice burger (which I think is not on the menu) but I’ve been a few times. Once the burger was great, the other time it was over cooked and chewy)
- Burgerry (This is a new joint and I’ve only been once. In terms of value, I feel it’s over priced. A small bottle of coke is 10 QR! The burger I received was burned BLACK, I didn’t get an apology and the second burger seemed under cooked and soggy. Happy to give them another try.)
- Just Burger (Went twice, first time the burger tasted dry and was pink even though I asked for well done. Second time we had to sit outside because their ventilation was not working and the place was smokey. This time the burger was oily but still pink inside).
- Hardees Angus Burger (Honestly? I love it. It’s a good fast food burger, but not one that I crave for)

 

Want me to come and try your burger? Confident that you’ll be added to the list? Send me an invite to contact – at – iloveqatar.net (replace – at – with @) If you are offering a complimentary burger, then I’ll need a voucher because I’ll only go if you don’t know when I’m coming to make it fair :)

Garangao in Qatar 2013 – The Festival of Children (and the Garangao song)

It’s almost time to celebrate Garangao [Ga-ran-ga-oh] (or sometimes called Gir-ga-oon)

Garangao, celebrated on the 14th day of Ramadan, is special to the Gulf region , particularly Qatar, and is believed to have its roots in the pearl-diving tradition of the region. Over the years, the festival has gained more popularity with several expatriates joining the celebrations.

In the evening, children, clad in their traditional clothes, will come out of their homes and knock on every door in their neighbourhood, which will be ready to receive them with sweets and nuts. They collect the goodies in the special cotton bags, hanging loosely from their necks. Kids will be seen wandering around the streets until late into the night singing the special Garangao song.

Now people are not just interested in buying the goodies, but they go for the specially designed packets and bags decorated with popular cartoon characters and other symbols dear to the children. So shops are vying to offer new and attractive designs. The prices of these packets range from QR5 to QR50, according to the size and varieties of the goodies.

Several Qatari clubs and organizations, which are instrumental in popularizing the festival, have come out with a variety of cultural events to mark the occasion, as in the previous years.

I remember when I was young, we’d all go around singing songs to the different homes and filling our bags with sweets! (I got really annoyed when I had mostly nuts) It was great! I encourage all nationalities to enjoy this festive occassion :)

We’ve got loads of events listed on www.ramadan.qa so check it out!
We’ve listed Aspire, Katara, Lagoona, QMA, DFI and more.

 

The Garangao song!

Here’s the song! Play it loud!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7kpZEKgvQU&feature=player_embedded

Lyrics:

Garangao Girga oh.
Atoona allah yateekum
Bayt Mecca ya wadeekum
Ya Mecca Yal mamoora
Yam il salasil wal thahab ya noora
Atoona min mal allah
Yislam lakum Abdulla.

Now this part of the song is special. You usually end it with the family name or the name of the father of the house (if you know it). So the ending of the song changes. For example:

Khalifa:
Atoona dahbat leefa
Salam Ala Khalifa

Translation:

Garangao Girga oh
Give us what God gave you
To Mecca he’ll take you
The greatly filled Mecca
Covered with tassles, gold and light
Give us what God  have given
Abdulla greets you with smiles

Khalifa:

Please give me us a bit of sweets

Please say hi to Khalifa.

 

So who’s going to be the first person to memorize and sing the song?

HAPPY GARANGAO EVERYONE!

 

Ramadan Mubarak Everyone! Here’s a quick 101

Ramadan Mubarak Qatar! I hope that people will have a great experience during Ramadan this year.

If you’re interested in reading up a bit, then be sure to check out these threads and posts:

Ramadan in a nutshell

Ramadan isn’t just for Muslims

Luxurious Ramadan

Saying Ramadan Kareem

Garangao – A Child’s Dream (The 14th day of Ramadan)

ILQ (partnered with Vodafone, Katara, and QF Radio) will be launching the fantastic Ramadan site again this year. Once live I’ll be sure to make a post :) It’ll contain a great events guide, a ramadan 101 guide, prayer times, special apps, and e-cards!

That’s not all! We’ve also got a MOBILE version and to make sure you don’t miss QF Radio’s 8pm show, an ‘on air’ button will light up!

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.