To celebrate the wonderful country Qataris call home for the 2022 World Cup, we’ve rounded up 22 interesting, curious or fun facts about Qatar and we guarantee there are more.
- Qatar is the world’s second-flattest country
You’ve probably noticed or already know that the country is pretty flat, but you probably didn’t realise just how flat it is. In fact, it’s the second flattest country in the world, with its highest point at just 338 metres. Only the Maldives is flatter, with the highest point of 1.5 metres. This is good news for cyclists and runners, but bad news for hikers.
- Hamad International Airport is the ‘best’ airport in the world
From its history and society to its geography and multicultural population, Qatar is one of the most fascinating countries in the world. But did you know it also has one of the largest and most popular airports in the world?
If you’ve travelled through Hamad International Airport, you probably know why it’s so highly rated, from its fantastic public art to its hassle-free travel. It’s also home to the longest runway in West Asia at 3,912 metres, and the sixth longest in the world.
Hamad International Airport (HIA) has been ranked and named this year 2022 “World’s Best Airport” for the second year in a row by the prestigious SKYTRAX World Airport Awards 2022 at the global Passenger Terminal Expo in Paris, France.
Other curiosities? HIA’s maintenance hangar is the largest in the world and can accommodate up to 13 aircraft at the same time. It is also the first airport ever designed specifically for Airbus A380s, the world’s largest passenger aircraft.
- Al Khor islanders were the first to produce purple dye from seafood
Al Khor Island is one of the most impressive places to visit in Qatar, thanks to the huge mangrove forest you can kayak through. Archaeologists have discovered features dating back to the second millennium BC, and the area was the first in the world to produce purple dye from seafood, which is why it is also known as Purple Island.
- Qatar Airways is the world’s best airline
We’ve already seen that the state of Qatar is quite competitive, and the national carrier Qatar Airways has been named the world’s best airline for the seventh time in a row this year at the 2022 World Airline Awards.
It is one of the few airlines selected that flies to all seven continents, and at one point had the world’s longest scheduled flight between Doha and Auckland at 16 hours and 30 minutes.
- Khor Al Adaid is one of the only places where sea meets desert
Desert sand dunes are always impressive, but Khor Al Adaid, or the Inland Sea, is very special. The area, which was declared a nature reserve in 2007, is one of the few places in the world where sea meets desert. In fact, Qatar wants the area to be included in the UNESCO world heritage list.
- Qatar is the safest country in the world
There are dozens of reasons to love Qatar, from the incredible museums and art galleries to the fantastic beaches and parks. But one of the main reasons people move to this glorious country is that it’s the safest country in the world.
Qatar has maintained its position as the ‘safest country’ in the world, according to the Numbeo Crime Index by Country 2022, out of 142 countries surveyed. For crime, Qatar scored a low of 13.78, while for safety it scored a high of 86.22. The Numbeo Crime Index calculations approximate the overall crime level in a city or country, while the safety index is an approximation of the overall safety level.
- Men outnumber women three to one
According to the latest census figures from September 2020, men outnumber women in Doha by about three to one, with only 754,592 women out of a population of 2,723,624. In fact, Qatar has the highest male/female ratio in the world, with the average male/female ratio worldwide being 1.01. Kuwait and Oman also have high male/female ratios of 1.38 and 1.18 respectively.
- Only 12% of the country’s population is Qatari
Qatar is undoubtedly an attractive country for expats, who come here for the good weather, relaxed lifestyle and, of course, the tax-free salaries. Qatar’s appeal is so great that over two million expats currently live in the country, making Qataris a minority, about 12% of the population.
- The Arabian Oryx is Qatar’s national animal
This majestic animal, which was saved from extinction in the 1970s by zoos and reserves, is Qatar’s national animal. You may have seen the oryx on the Qatar Airways logo or, if you’re a sports fan, you may remember that an oryx called Orry (very original) was the mascot of the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.
- Robots are used for camel racing in Qatar
If you don’t already know, camel racing is very popular in Qatar, and races take place at Al Shahaniya Camel Racing Track between October and February every year. Originally, children were used as camel jockeys, but since 2004 robots have been used instead for health and safety reasons. The robots are controlled remotely by camel breeders, who often drive along the track.
- Qatar’s name originated in 50 AD
The Roman writer Pliny the Elder referred to the inhabitants of what is now Qatar as “Cathars” in the mid-1st century, and the name has since gone through several variations.
Cathara was used until the 18th century, when Katara became the most common spelling, and several variants, including Katr, Kattar and Guttur, were also used until Qatar was officially adopted as the country’s name.
- From diving for pearls to oil
Diving for pearls has been a mainstay of Qatar’s economy for thousands of years and is celebrated as an essential part of the country’s culture. That all changed in the 1920s when Japan began exporting cultured pearls and the market was flooded.
Like many countries in the Gulf region, Qatar turned to oil, drilling its first well in 1939 and exporting crude oil as early as 1949. Other fields were discovered in 1960 and again in 1970. Oil is now an important part of the economy, and Qatar is even home to the world’s longest drilled oil well, at 40,320 metres deep.
- Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world
Looking at dizzying skyscrapers and incredibly ambitious projects like The Pearl-Qatar, it should come as no surprise that Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world.
According to International Monetary Fund estimates, Qatar’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is $138,910, which puts it well ahead of Luxembourg, which comes second at $112,045. And, unsurprisingly, much of this wealth comes from oil and gas, which accounts for over 60% of GDP.
- Qatar’s flag has an interesting origin story
The Qatari flag is all over the emirate, but have you ever wondered what it means? Firstly, the nine jagged edges are meant to signify Qatar’s inclusion as the ninth member of the ‘reconciled Emirates’ in the Persian Gulf during a treaty made with the British in 1916.
The colour, which is defined as Pantone 1955 C, or Qatari brown, is an allusion to the country’s role in the purple dye industry on the Al Khor islands. The flag is also totally unique, being the only flag in the world that is more than twice as wide as it is tall.
- Qatar’s ruling family has been in power since 1868
The House of Thani has ruled Qatar since 1868, when Mohammed bin Thani signed a treaty with the British. The current emir is Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who has ruled the country since 2013.
- The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar marks many historic firsts
This year’s World Cup will be historic for several reasons, as Qatar will become the smallest and first Arab country to host the tournament.
It will also be the first edition to be held in winter and the first carbon-neutral World Cup, with an 800 MW solar power plant being built to power the tournament and any excess emissions offset by other projects.
- Doha Tower has a unique design
This building is one of the most iconic structures in the West Bay and was even named ‘the best skyscraper’ in the world in 2012. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the 46-storey tower has a number of unique features that you may not be aware of.
Firstly, the building has no central core and became the first skyscraper to use diagrid reinforced concrete columns, which blend into the building’s façade.
The facade itself, besides being beautiful and a reference to ancient Islamic Mashrabiya design, protects the building from the sun and varies in density around the building depending on where the sun hits it. It’s all pretty amazing, but most at night when it’s lit up.
- Doha Metro breaks Guinness World Record
Boarding the Doha Metro is a great way to get around the city at lower prices, but did you know that this project has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records?
During construction, it was awarded a world record for the most tunnel boring machines operating simultaneously in a single project.
- Qatar’s National Day wasn’t always 18 December
December 18 is celebrated because it marks the day Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, who succeeded his father as the ruler of Qatar in 1878 by unifying the local tribes. But before 2007, National Day was celebrated on 3 September, the anniversary of Qatar’s independence from the British in 1971.
- Machboos is Qatar’s national dish
If there’s one dish you must try during a visit to Qatar, it’s undoubtedly machboos. This dish, based on rice, meat, onions and tomatoes mixed with spices, is the national dish of Qatar. Most importantly, it’s incredibly delicious.
- Qatar owns the most important television station in the Arab world
Qatar is home to the largest television channel in the Middle East, the Aljazeera television network, which is the Arab world’s biggest mouthpiece, with affiliates from Europe to the United States and Japan, among others.
- Football is the most popular sport in Qatar, followed by… cricket
Cricket has now become the most popular sport in Qatar after football. This is due to the large number of South Asian immigrants in the country who share a love for the game. Meeting the growing demand, Qatar has set up several cricket grounds, including the Asian Town Cricket Stadium and the Qatar Foundation Cricket Ground.