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QATAR

Qatar is a small country on a peninsula in the heart of the Arabian Gulf, with one of the fastest growing economies in the world. An area of 160 km from North to South and about 80 km from East to West.

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Qatar Folk Band

The Qatari peninsula, in the southwest corner of the Arabian Gulf, juts out from the mainland of Saudi Arabia. Between the two are the islands that form the Kingdom of Bahrein. Iran lies across the Culf to the northeast, with the United Arab Emirates just a short distance away to the southeast, separated from Qatar by a small Saudi Arabian corridor. Apart from dunes in the south and hills in the west, Qatar consists mainly of flat low lying rocky desert and coastal salt flats or sabkha. The peninsula has a 563 km sandy coastline with numerous small islets, sand bars and reefs. The most prominent feature in the south Qatar is the spectacular Inland Sea (Khor AI Adaid) where crescent shaped barchan sand dunes surround a body of salt water with a narrow inlet from the Gulf. This wilderness, at the northern end of the Arabian Peninsula's Empty Quarter (Rub AI Khali), is a favourite spot for camping and picnics away from the hustle and bustle of Doha and is scheduled for listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the west coast, the area between Umm Bab and Ras Abrouq is characterised by a range of eye catching flat topped limestone outcrops which together with the sedimentary surface rocks are a reminder of the fact that about 24 million years ago Qatar lay under the sea. Hilltops in the southwest are covered in three-sided stones known as ventifacts, scoured by the sand and wind until they resemble the shape of a famous chocolate bar. The shale hills in the west, together with a dry river bed in the centre of the country, are rich in fossils while the low salt flats near Al Sheehaniya are collecting grounds for those willing to dig for the attractive gypsum formations known as 'desert roses'. Qatar's onshore oil production is centred around Dukhan, also on the west coast, south of the remains of the ancient port city of Al Zubala. Weather The climate of Qatar is typical of hot and arid desert lands, pleasant in winter and extremely hot in summer. Short transitional periods separate the two rnain seasons. The air temperature in January averages a high of 22°C and has an average low of 13°C. The minimum overnight low at this time of year has been known to fall as far as 6°C. The temperature also falls heavily after sunset in the desert, where winds can be bitingly cold. The contrast between summer and winter temperature, is marked, making winter feel much 'colder' than the actual temperature would imply. In July, when the country is at its hottest, the average high is 42° falling just a few degrees to a minimum average of 30°C. However the maximum temperature in July and August can exceed 50°C and humidity is highest in those months. If you wear glasses, take care in summer going outdoors from air conditionined rooms or vice versa, the lenses will steam up, makinq you temporarily 'blind'. Protection from the sun is most important (especially for children) with particular emphasis on the use of high factor sun screen, hats and dark glasses, natural rather than synthetic fibres are prefferable for clothes which should also be loose for comfort. The sea is usually coolest in late January when temperature can reach a low of 14 °C and warmest in September when it can reach 35 °C. Early morning fog is typical of the Gulf region, especially in November. However, it usually cleans by 9 am. Strong northwesterly winds known as Shamal can blow for extended periods carrying dust and sandwhich also reduces visibility. Rain falls rarely in Qatar, but when it does it can be torrential and drains slowly. The first showers of the year about October are known as Wasmi. The word means "spot" reffering to the pock marks the rain makes on the sand.



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