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Doha
الدوحةad-Dawḥa
From top: Qatar University, Museum of Islamic Art, Doha
From top: Qatar University, Museum of Islamic Art, Doha
Location of the municipality of Doha within Qatar.
Location of the municipality of Doha within Qatar.
Country Qatar
Municipality Ad Dawhah
Established 1850
Area
 • City 132 km2 (51 sq mi)
Population (2004)
 • City 339,847
 • Density 2,574/km2 (6,690/sq mi)
 • Metro 998,651
Time zone AST (UTC+3)

Doha (Arabic: الدوحة;, Ad-Dawḥah or Ad-Dōḥah) is the capital city of Qatar. It has a population of 400,051 (2005), and is at 25.3° N 51.5333° E, on the Persian Gulf. The city is home to Doha International Airport and the major oil and fishing industries. Doha is also home to Education City, an area devoted to research and education. Doha was the host of the 2006 Asian Games, a major Asian sporting event.

History

20th century

OldDistrictDoha
An old district in Doha.

Pearling had come to play a pivotal commercial role in Doha by the 20th century. The population increased to around 12,000 inhabitants in the first half of the 20th century due to the flourishing pearl trade. A British political resident noted that should the supply of pearls drop, Qatar would 'practically cease to exist'. In 1907, the city accommodated 350 pearling boats with a combined crew size of 6,300 men. By this time, the average prices of pearls had more than doubled since 1877. The pearl market collapsed that year, forcing Jassim Al Thani to sell the country's pearl harvest at half its value. The aftermath of the collapse resulted in the establishment of the country's first custom house in Doha.

In April 1913, the Ottomans agreed to a British request that they withdraw all their troops from Qatar. Ottoman presence in the peninsula ceased, when in August 1915, the Ottoman fort in Al Bidda was evacuated shortly after the start of World War I. One year later, Qatar agreed to be a British protectorate with Doha as its official capital.

Buildings at the time were simple dwellings of one or two rooms, built from mud, stone and coral. Oil concessions in the 1920s and 1930s, and subsequent oil drilling in 1939, heralded the beginning of slow economic and social progress in the country. However, revenues were somewhat diminished due to the devaluation of pearl trade in the Persian Gulf brought on by introduction of the cultured pearl and the Great Depression. The collapse of the pearl trade caused a significant population drop throughout the entire country. It was not until the 1950s and 1960s that the country saw significant monetary returns from oil drilling.

Doha
Doha in the 1980s.

Qatar was not long in exploiting the new-found wealth from oil concessions, and slum areas were quickly razed to be replaced by more modern buildings. The first formal boys' school was established in Doha in 1952, followed three years later by the establishment of a girls' school. Historically, Doha had been a commercial port of local significance. However, the shallow water of the bay prevented bigger ships from entering the port until the 1970s, when its deep-water port was completed. Further changes followed with extensive land reclamation, which led to the development of the crescent-shaped bay. From the 1950s to 1970s, the population of Doha grew from around 14,000 inhabitants to over 83,000, with foreign immigrants constituting about two-thirds of the overall population.

Post-independence

Qatar officially declared its independence in 1971, with Doha as its capital city. In 1973, the University of Qatar was opened by emiri decree, and in 1975 the Qatar National Museum opened in what was originally the ruler's palace. During the 1970s, all old neighborhoods in Doha were razed and the inhabitants moved to new suburban developments, such as Al Rayyan, Madinat Khalifa and Al Gharafa. The metropolitan area's population grew from 89,000 in the 1970s to over 434,000 in 1997. Additionally, land policies resulted in the total land area increasing to over 7,100 hectares by 1995, an increase from 130 hectares in the middle of the 20th century.

DOHA CORNISH JUNE 07 2011
Recent developments in Doha.

In 1983, a hotel and conference center was developed at the north end of the Corniche. The 15-storey Sheraton hotel structure in this center would serve as the tallest structure in Doha until the 1990s. In 1993, the Qatar Open became the first major sports event to be hosted in the city. Two years later, Qatar stepped in to host the FIFA World Youth Championship, with all the matches being played in Doha-based stadiums.

DohaSkyscrapersIn2015
Doha's West Bay area in 2015.

The Al Jazeera Arabic news channel began broadcasting from Doha in 1996. In the late 1990s, the government planned the construction of Education City, a 2,500 hectare Doha-based complex mainly for educational institutes. Since the start of the 21st century, Doha attained significant media attention due to the hosting of several global events and the inauguration of a number of architectural mega-projects. One of the largest projects launched by the government was The Pearl-Qatar, an artificial island off the coast of West Bay, which launched its first district in 2004. In 2006, Doha was selected to host the Asian Games, leading to the development of a 250-hectare sporting complex known as Aspire Zone. During this time, new cultural attractions were constructed in the city, with older ones being restored. In 2006, the government launched a restoration program to preserve Souq Waqif's architectural and historical identity. Parts constructed after the 1950s were demolished whereas older structures were refurbished. The restoration was completed in 2008. Katara Cultural Village was opened in the city in 2010 and has hosted the Doha Tribeca Film Festival since then.

Geography

Doha is located on the central-east portion of Qatar, bordered by the Persian Gulf on its coast. Its elevation is 10 m (33 ft). Doha is highly urbanized. Land reclamation off the coast has added 400 hectares of land and 30 km of coastline. Half of the 22 km² of surface area which Hamad International Airport was constructed on was reclaimed land. The geology of Doha is primarily composed of weathered unconformity on the top of the Eocene period Dammam Formation, forming dolomitic limestone.

ThePearlQatarCoastline
The Pearl, a man-made island off the coast of Doha.

The Pearl is an artificial island in Doha with a surface area of nearly 400 ha (1,000 acres) The total project has been estimated to cost $15 billion upon completion. Other islands off Doha's coast include Palm Tree Island, Shrao's Island, Al Safia Island, and Alia Island.

Climate

Doha has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh). Summer is very long, from May to September, when its average high temperatures surpass 38 °C (100 °F) and often approach 45 °C (113 °F). Humidity is usually the lowest in May and June. Dewpoints can surpass 30 °C (86 °F) in the summer. Throughout the summer, the city averages almost no precipitation, and less than 20 mm (0.79 in) during other months. Rainfall is scarce, at a total of 75 mm (2.95 in) per year, falling on isolated days mostly between October to March. Winters are cool and the temperature rarely drops below 7 °C (45 °F).

Demographics

A significant portion of Qatar's population resides within the confines of Doha and its metropolitan area. The district with the highest population density is the central area of Al Najada, which also accommodates the highest total population in the country. The population density across the greater Doha region ranges from 20,000 people per km² to 25 people per km².

Ethnicity and languages

The population of Doha is overwhelmingly composed of expatriates, with Qatari nationals forming a minority. The largest portion of expatriates in Qatar are from South-East and South Asian countries, mainly India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Philippines, and Bangladesh with large numbers of expatriates also coming from the Levant Arab countries, North Africa, and East Asia. Doha is also home to a large number of expatriates from Europe, North America, South Africa, and Australia.

Bilingual traffic sign qatar
Bilingual traffic sign in Doha.

Arabic is the official language of Qatar. English is commonly used as a second language, and a rising lingua franca, especially in commerce. As there is a large expatriate population in Doha, languages such as Malayalam, Tagalog, Spanish, French, Urdu and Hindi are widely spoken.

Religion

The majority of residents in Doha are Muslim. Catholics account for over 90% of the 150,000 Christian population in Doha. Following decrees by the Emir for the allocation of land to churches, the first Catholic church, Our Lady of the Rosary, was opened in Doha in March 2008. The church structure is discreet and Christian symbols are not displayed on the outside of the building. Several other churches exist in Doha, including the [1] St.Isaac and St. George Greek Orthodox Church of Qatar the Syro-Malabar Church, Malankara Orthodox Church, Mar Thoma Church (affiliated with the Anglicans, but not part of the Communion), CSI Church, Syro-Malankara Church and a Pentecostal church. A majority of mosques are either Muwahhid or Sunni-oriented.

Economy

Doha City, UNCTAD XIII (7115124733)
Commercial district in Doha.

Doha is the economic centre of Qatar. The city is the headquarters of numerous domestic and international organizations, including the country's largest oil and gas companies, Qatar Petroleum, Qatargas and RasGas. Doha's economy is built primarily on the revenue the country has made from its oil and natural gas industries.

Beginning in the late 20th century, the government launched numerous initiatives to diversify the country's economy in order to decrease its dependence on oil and gas resources. Doha International Airport was constructed in a bid to solidify the city's diversification into the tourism industry. This was replaced by Hamad International Airport in 2014. The new airport is almost twice the size of the former and features two of the longest runways in the world.

As a result of Doha's rapid population boom and increased housing demands, real estate prices have raised significantly. Real estate prices experienced a further spike after Qatar won the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Al Asmakh, a Qatari real estate firm, released a report in 2014 which revealed substantial increases in real estate prices following a peak in 2008. Prices increased 5 to 10% in the first quarter of 2014 from the end of 2013. A 2015 study conducted by Numbeo, a crowd-sourced database, named Doha as the 10th most expensive city to live in globally. This rate of growth has led to the development of planned communities in and around the city.

Thirty-nine new hotels were under construction in 2011. Doha was included in Fortune's 15 best new cities for business in 2011.

Infrastructure

Architecture

MuseumOfIslamicArtsPark
Museum of Islamic Arts Park in West Bay, Doha.

Most traditional architecture in the Old Doha districts have been demolished to make space for new buildings. As a result, a number of schemes have been taken to preserve the city's cultural and architectural heritage, such as the Qatar Museums Authority's 'Al Turath al Hai' ('living heritage') initiative. Katara Cultural Village is a small village in Doha launched by sheikh Tamim Al Thani to preserve the cultural identity of the country.

DohaSkylineAtNight
Skyline of Doha near the Doha Corniche.

In 2011, more than 50 towers were under construction in Doha, the largest of which was the Doha Convention Center Tower. Constructions were suspended in 2012 following concerns that the tower would impede flight traffic.

In 2014, Abdullah Al Attiyah, a senior government official, announced that Qatar would be spending $65bn on new infrastructure projects in upcoming years in preparation for the 2022 World Cup as well as progressing towards its objectives set out in the Qatar National Vision 2030.

Atmosphere

Due to excessive heat from the sun during the summer, some Doha-based building companies have implemented various forms of cooling technology to alleviate the extremely torrid climatic conditions. This can include creating optical phenomena such as shadows, as well as more expensive techniques like ventilation, coolants, refrigerants, cryogenics, and dehumidifiers. Discussions regarding temperature control have also been features of various scheduled events involving large crowds. There are other initiatives that attempt to counter the heat by altering working hours, weather alteration methods such as cloud seeding., and using whiter and brighter construction materials to increase the albedo effects. Nonetheless, despite these measures, Doha and other areas of Qatar could become uninhabitable for humans due to climate change by the 2070s.

Planned communities

مدينة الوعب
Al Waab City.

One of the largest projects underway in Qatar is Lusail City, a planned community north of Doha which is estimated to be completed by 2020 at a cost of approximately $45bn. It is designed to accommodate 450,000 people. Al Waab City, another planned community under development, is estimated to cost QR15 bn. In addition to housing 8,000 individuals, it will also have shopping malls, educational, and medical facilities.

Transportation

Qatar, Dukhan Highway
Qatar, Dukhan Highway

Since 2004, Doha has been undergoing a huge expansion to its transportation network, including the addition of new highways, the opening of a new airport in 2014, and the currently ongoing construction of an 85 km metro system. This has all been as a result of Doha's massive growth in a short period of time, which has resulted in congestion on its roads. The first phase of the metro system is expected to be operational by 2019.

In 2015, the Public Works Authority declared their plan to construct a free-flowing road directly linking Al-Wakrah and Mesaieed to Doha in order to decrease traffic congestion in the city. It is set for completion by 2018.

Sports

Football

Football is the most popular sport in Doha. There are six Doha-based sports clubs with football teams currently competing in the Qatar Stars League, the country's top football league. They are Al Ahli, Al Arabi, Al Sadd, Al Sailiya, Al-Duhail and Qatar SC. Al Sadd, Al Arabi and Qatar SC are the three most successful teams in the league's history.

Numerous football tournaments have been hosted in Doha. The most prestigious tournaments include the 1988 and 2011 editions of the AFC Asian Cup and the 1995 FIFA World Youth Championship.

In December 2010, Qatar won the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Three of the nine newly announced stadiums will be constructed in Doha, including Sports City Stadium, Doha Port Stadium, and Qatar University Stadium. Additionally, the Khalifa International Stadium is set to undergo an expansion.

Basketball

Doha was the host of the official 2005 FIBA Asia Championship, where Qatar's national basketball team finished 3rd, its best performance to date, and subsequently qualified for the Basketball World Cup.

The majority of the teams that make up the official Qatari Basketball League are based in Doha.

Volleyball

Doha four times was the host of the official FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship and three times host FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship. Doha one time Host Asian Volleyball Championship.

Other sports

In 2001, Qatar became the first country in the Middle East to hold a women's tennis tournament: Qatar holds both the Qatar Open for Women and the ladies ITF (International Tennis Federation) tournament. Since 2008, the Sony Ericsson Championships (equivalent to the ATP's season-ending Championships) has taken place in Doha, in the Khalifa International Tennis Complex, and features record prize money of $4.45 million, including a check of $1,485,000 for the winner, which represents the largest single guaranteed payout in women's tennis.

Relekta (6989973445)
Powerboat races in Doha Bay.

Doha hosted the 15th Asian Games, held in December 2006, spending a total of $2.8 billion for its preparation. The city also hosted the 3rd West Asian Games in December 2005. Doha was expected to host the 2011 Asian Indoor Games; but the Qatar Olympic Committee cancelled the event.

The city submitted a bid for the 2016 Olympics. On June 4, 2008, the city was eliminated from the shortlist for the 2016 Olympic Games. On August 26, 2011 it was confirmed that Doha would bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Doha however failed to become a Candidate City for the 2020 Games.

The MotoGP motorcycling grand prix of Doha is held annually at Losail International Circuit, located just outside the city boundaries. The city is also the location of the Grand Prix of Qatar for the F1 Powerboat World Championship, annually hosting a round in Doha Bay. Beginning in November 2009, Doha has been host of The Oryx Cup World Championship, a hydroplane boat race in the H1 Unlimited season. The races take place in Doha Bay.

In April 2012 Doha was awarded the 2014 FINA World Swimming Championships and the 2012 World Squash Championships.

Culture

MIAatNight
Museum of Islamic Art in Doha.

Doha was chosen as the Arab Capital of Culture in 2010. Cultural weeks organized by the Ministry of Culture, which featured both Arab and non-Arab cultures, were held in Doha from April to June to celebrate the city's selection.

Arts

The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, opened in 2008, is regarded as one of the best museums in the region. This, and several other Qatari museums located in the city, like the Arab Museum of Modern Art, falls under the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) which is led by Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the sister of the emir of Qatar.

Gallery

Click on the thumbnail to enlarge.


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