In an effort to highlight places of interest in countries across the world, their varied culture, economy and history, The Statesman brings to you a Weekly Focus on countries with which India shares diplomatic ties and friendship. This week’s focus is on Qatar. Know all about the country.

Capital: Doha, Currency: Qatari riyal, Ethnic groups: Non-Qatari 88.4 per cent, Qatari 11.6 per cent (2015 est.), Languages: Arabic (official); English is commonly used, Religion: Muslim 67.7 per cent, Christian 13.8, Hindu 13.8, Buddhist 3.1, unaffiliated 0.9 per cent (2010 est.)

Climate:  The climate is dry, subtropical, with low annual rainfall and intensely hot and humid summers. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit, when temperatures are warm and the evenings can be pleasantly cool. In June to September. it’s like an oven and best avoided, the average temperature being around 42ºC. In winter, temperatures are cooler but still warm, with the average around 23ºC from December to February. Almost all rainfall occurs during the winter months, mostly in heavy cloudbursts and thunderstorms.

700 Million Indian: The Indian community is the largest expatriate group in Qatar. It is highly respected for their sincerity, hard work, technical expertise and lawabiding nature. Indians are employed in almost every local establishment, governmental or private.Right now, they are making their contribution in projects associated with the hosting of Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. Indians can now stay for up to 60 days in Qatar without getting a prior visa, instead a multi-entry waiver will be issued free-of-charge at the port of entry, upon presentation of a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months. The waiver is valid for 30 days, during either a single trip or on multiple trips. This waiver may be extended. for a further 30 days.

Try the Friday brunch: Options for dining out in Qatar are pretty limited outside Doha. For most expats and visitors, the most important meal of the week is Friday brunch, when hotels compete to lay out the widest and most varied choice of food.If the ubiquitous Gulf menu of rice, lamb and mezze (homos, chopped salads and other appetisers) is not to your taste, then there are plenty of Indian, Chinese and Thai options. The fruit concoctions such as lemon and mint, or avocado milkshake are irresistible in summer. Some Specialities are Traditional Levantine shawarma, Egyptian foul and taamiyeh, harees, mashboos. Qatar is officially a dry country, there are no speciality alcoholic drinks, but most Middle Eastern restaurants offer wonderful fresh juices.

Nearly 6,500 joint ventures

Trade exchange between the State of Qatar and India witnessed an excellent growth reaching $10 billion during 2015-16. India is considered to be the fourth largest export destination for Qatar followed by Japan, South Korea and Singapore. Major items of Indian exports include electronic tools, transportation equipments, iron, steel, precious stones, rubber, plastic, fertilisers and the chemicals. India is among the countries that purchase materials like ethylene, aluminum, urea and polyethylene. Nearly 6,500 Qatari-Indian companies in joint venture partnerships are working practically in all fields in the country. Many Indian companies such as L&T, Dodsal, Punj Lloyd, Shapoorji Pallonji, Voltas, Tata Motors, Simplex, TCS, Wipro, Tech Mahindra, Aptech and NIIT have set up offices in Qatar and have secured major contracts/ business. Interest is being shown by Indian companies in construction, infrastructure, communications,IT, energy and other fields. The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is the main Qatari investor in India and the country is the largest supplier of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to India.

CULTURAL HAVENS

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha: Architects came from America and China to build the Museum. It has a huge collection of art from the Muslim world, including Arab, Persian and African. The Corniche, Doha: The cornice is actually a curved boulevard. The long road by the seaside contains green grass on the other side. Can also visit the Hotel Sheraton, symbol of present Doha. The most breathtaking view is of the oyster by the Corniche side. Al-Zubarah: . The houses in this ancient city are made of mud and mortar. They are built in a very traditional Qatari way with limestone and plaster. Qatar National Museum: The extraordinary building shows the architectural skill of the Qatar architects. This was once Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani’s palace Other tourist attractions are Al Wakra Museum, Al Jassasiya Carvings (AlRuwais), Desert Safari in Doha, Villagio Mall, Kassem Darwish Fakhroo Islamic, Katara Mosque and The Golden Mosque in Doha, Aspire Park. Pearl Qatar, Doha, is available for freehold ownership by foreign nationals.

Compiled by Kunal Jain ([email protected])