Qatar: The only “Q” country
In preparation for my Qatar Airways flight to India, I have been doing some research on Qatar (pronounced KAH-ter). The first thing I discovered is that it is the only country in the world that begins with a “Q.” Qatar is located on a flat peninsula that sticks out into the The Persian Gulf and is one of the wealthiest countries on earth (on a per capita basis), thanks to oil. Many people, like me, know Qatar chiefly because it is home to the highly regarded Al Jazeera news network. (If you have any doubts about Al Jazeera’s liberal reporting policies, read this article on their website, The Middle East Feminist Revolution, by Naomi Wolf.)
In my research I found out a few interesting things:
- On World Travel Guide, I discovered that guests must drink two cups of Qatari coffee, neither more nor less (and must hold the cup with the right hand).
- On the Lonely Planet site, I found out that Souq Waqif (the main souq in Doha) has been completely rebuilt to “look old.”
- The Qatar Visitor site includes a detailed list of things to see in do in the capital city, Doha — and says that Qatar basically IS Doha, as 50% of the country’s population resides there.
- Dave and Deb of ThePlanetD wrote about architect I.M. Pei’s greatest buildings and included the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha on their list.
Qatar is a constitutional monarchy. The country is controlled by Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who deposed his father in a bloodless coup in 1995, and has brought in many reforms — including suffrage for women. Politically, Qatar is called the Switzerland of the Middle East, which I think means they try to get along with just about everyone. Certainly by winning the right to host the World Cup for 2022; by funding Al Jazeera; and by turning Qatar Airways into one of the world’s leading airlines, Qatar is working hard to transform itself from an unknown pearl-fishing centre to a leading global citizen.
The world’s five-star airline
I discovered that Qatar Airways is one of the world’s fastest growing airlines, and also one of the most highly regarded. The company’s tag line is “the world’s five star airline” — and it has earned that distinction by winning the World’s Best Business Class, World’s Best Business Class Catering and Best Airline in the Middle East for the past five consecutive years. Qatar Airways Premium Terminal Doha was named one of the world’s most amazing airport lounges by Travel Leisure Magazine. (New Doha International Airport is scheduled to open in 2012.) Qatar also has an excellent safety record and flies, among other planes, the fuel efficient Boeing 777. All in all, I am thrilled to be flying Qatar from New York to Delhi, with a short stop in Doha, capital of Qatar.
Qatar was re-launched in 1997, and currently flies a modern fleet of 94 aircraft to 98 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and North and South America. Its fleet size will surpass 120 aircraft by 2013, by which time the global network will top 120 destinations.
Note: I was a guest on Qatar Airways.
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