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.

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 :)

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


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.

A quick tour of the African Festival (and hunting for tribal dancers)

I went on down to the African Festival at Katara. It was a pretty fun event. I thought it would be nice to see what happened, what they were up to, and check out the entertainment. Don’t forget to Thumbs Up, Comment, and Subscribe :) Then I know if you’ve liked it! If you REALLY REALLY like it then please share it too! Take care all, Mr. Q (Your friendly neighbourhood Qatari)

Marhaba did a piece on me

That’s nice of Marhaba Magazine, they were very complimentary. If I was a blusher, I would have blushed :D

You can read it here: The elusive Mr Q from iLoveQatar

iLoveQatar’s YouTube Channel and the Communities Videos

Updated! Have you checked it out yet? No? Then check it out habayeb (that’s multiple of habeebee). http://www.youtube.com/iluvqatar

Since launching it, it’s reached almost 650,000 views, but the really cool thing is that we’re getting some awesome community submissions! I really do want to see more vloggers, animators, comedy, anything really, on YouTube. Here are a few of the latest submissions:

Follow Maryam Al Naemi on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MBA_AlN3aimi
Follow FilmForChange on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/filmforchange

Follow Alex on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/alexklim
Have a great Qatari related video you want to share with everyone? Let us know! Just send an email to contact -at- iloveqatar.net :)

The Facebook Social Life of iLoveQatar

I thought it would ajeeb to share a visualization of ILQ on Facebook thanks to the awesome community that helps us grow.

Click on image to enlarge.

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

Loads happened and even more happening!

It’s been an incredibly busy week. So what have I been up to the past weekend? Well I sponsored or partnered up with a number of events.

ILQ was a part of Think Pink (Walk for Life), Woofstock, QSports Leagues and Arab Games Basketball in the mall, ILQ women’s volleyball team entry to semi-finals, and a special Calvin Klein and ILQ joint event at Landmark.

Here are links to some pics if you’re interested!

Pics from CK Shock and ILQ special event

Pics from Think Pink Walk for Life

Pics from Woofstock

So what’s ILQ a part of and that’s coming up? You’ve got Beachfest, ASQAT Beach Clean Up, The Red Carpet 3 (with SISQO), Qatar Investors Window, The League of Extraordinary Comedians Vol. 5, Cool Runnings, and I’m sure there’s something I’ve forgotten.

I love have iLoveQatar has grown to becoming an integral part of helping to make Qatar a better place and a country that’s more vibrant and exciting

So although there’s no room for excuses, that’s why I’ve been silent from blogging for quite a while. There’s just quite a lot going on. All the while, I’ve been focusing on getting the NEW events section on ILQ ready. Still a way to go since I’m very picky about the design and user experience.

If you want to stay up to date with what’s happening, make sure to check out ILQ’s Events section, Qatar Events on Twitter, Qatar Events on Facebook, ILQ on Facebook, Sign up to the ILQ newsletter, or pick up a copy of Qatar Happening :)

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.