100+ Quick & Interesting Facts About Qatar

Fun facts about Doha and Qatar

In this article you’ll find a lengthy list of fun and interesting facts about Qatar, including its history, leaders, food, and more!

Salam alaykum!” Qatar is a small but blossoming Arabian nation where traditional Bedouin culture blends harmoniously with a stylish, urban landscape. What is Qatar famous for?

Qatar At-a-Glance

Location: Middle East, peninsula bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
Population: Over 2.5 million
Capital City: Doha
Area: Approximately 11,600 sq km
Official Languages: Arabic, with English commonly used as a second language
Predominant Religion: Islam
Climate: Arid; mild winters and very hot, humid summers
(Source: The World Factbook)

General Qatar Facts

1. Qatar is 1 of 7 countries in the Arabian Peninsula and 1 of 18 countries in the Middle East.  

2. Except for its 60 km border with Saudi Arabia, 90% of Qatar is surrounded by the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Bahrain.  

3. Some islands belonging to Bahrain are only 1 km (0.6 mi) off the coast of Qatar. Abu Dhabi (capital of the UAE) and Dubai (largest city of the UAE) are only 266 km (165 mi) and 360 km (224 mi) from Qatar, respectively. There is no land border between Qatar and UAE.

A map of Qatar

4. Qatar is the world’s 11th smallest non-island country, at 11,295 km2 (4,361 mi2).  

5. If Qatar were a US state, it would be the third smallest one.  

6. Qatar is the second flattest country in the world, after the Maldives. Its highest point is only 103 meters (335 feet). 

7. Most of Qatar is made up of desert.  

A desert beside the sea in Qatar
The desert meets the sea in Qatar.

8. Qatar is home to 3 million people, about 0.04% of the world’s population.  

9. 99% of Qataris live in cities, making it one of the most urbanized countries in the world.  

10. Over 90% of Qatar’s population live in the metropolitan area of Doha, the capital city.  

11. Only 12% of people in Qatar are Qataris. The rest are expatriates. 60% of the people in Qatar are from South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc).  

12. Men outnumber women by 3 to 1 in Qatar, mostly because of the high number of male expats. 

Some old men sitting on a bench in Qatar
Local Qatari men

13. Arabic is the national language of Qatar, but English is widely spoken and used.  

14. On average, Qatar has less than ten days of rain per year.  

15. The highest recorded temperature in Qatar was 50.4°C (122.7°F) on July 14, 2010. The average high temperature in July is 43°C (109.4°F). 

16. The name Qatar goes back at least 2000 years. In the first century CE, Pliny the Elder called residents of the peninsula Catharrei

17. The maroon color seen on the Qatari flag has origins in the red-purple dye from Al-Khor Island, or Purple Island, on the east coast of Qatar, that has been used for centuries. 

The flag of Qatar
The Qatari flag

18. Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world. It has the sixth-highest GDP per capita in the world and the highest in the Middle East.  

19. Qatar has the third-largest oil reserve in the world, and petroleum/natural gas accounts for 70% of the country’s revenue.  

20. Qatar is an emirate, and the current emir is Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, or “Sheikh Tamim”. He is an absolute monarch, and there are no elections for national leader in Qatar. 

Random Interesting Facts About Qatar

21. The state-owned Qatar Airways was voted the world’s best airline for the sixth year in a row at the World Airline Awards in 2021.  

22. The World Airport Awards also named Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar the best airport in the world in 2021. 

Aerial view of Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, shot from an airplane, with the plane's engine in view.
Hamad International Airport is one of the world’s best.

23. Al Jazeera, one of the largest media networks in the world, is based in Doha, Qatar.  

24. The 2022 FIFA World Cup was held in Qatar, the first time a Middle Eastern country will have hosted the event.  

25. Retired footballer David Beckham has been highly involved in promoting the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. 

26. Qatar-born Mutaz Essa Barshim is the current world champion of high jumping, having jumped 2.43 meters, the second highest of all time. 

27. The Asian Games were hosted by Doha, Qatar in 2006, the first time for a Middle Eastern country, and will be hosted there again in 2030. 

Exterior and stairs of Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar
The Khalifa International Stadium will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

28. In 2008, George Michael was the first openly gay performer to give a concert in Qatar. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and punishable by up to three years in prison.  

29. A portion of the 2007 film Transformers was supposedly set in Qatar, but actually filmed in New Mexico, USA.  

30. The ancient sport of falconry was brought to Qatar by Bedouins and still practiced there today. Falcons are so prized that they are issued their own passport when purchased at the falcon souq in Doha.  

31. Qatar has invested billions of dollars in Germany’s Volkswagon company. 

32. Camel racing is a multi-million-dollar industry centered on Al Shahaniya racetrack. Ever since child jockeys were banned in 2004, many camels are now ridden by robot jockeys.    

A racing camel in Qatar with a robot on its back.
Qatari racing camels are often equipped with robots.

33. Qatar has no lakes or other permanent bodies of freshwater. The country gets its drinking water from desalination plants, where seawater is evaporated to remove the salt.  

34. Qatar is two meters higher than it was 400 years ago due to geological uplift.  

35. Only 5% of Qatar’s land is used for agriculture, such as date plantations. 

36. There isn’t much wildlife in Qatar. The Arabian oryx is the national animal.  

A herd of Arabian oryxes in the desert in Qatar.
The Arabian Oryx is the national animal of Qatar.

37. Education is free in Qatar for kids aged 6 to 16, but not compulsory. 

38. The weekend is on Friday and Saturday in Qatar. 

39. Qatari men usually wear a thawb (flowing white shirt) and kaffiyeh (head scarf) held in place by an iqal. Women wear an abayah (black cloak) or hijab (veil). 

40. A genre of music called nahmah was once popular among pearl divers but almost disappeared with the decline of the pearl industry in Qatar. The Qatari government is making efforts to preserve it. 

41. Traditional Bedouin arts such as weaving, poetry, and singing are still practiced in Qatar. 

Exterior view of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, reflecting in a pool of water.
The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha

42. Ninety-one-year-old architect I. M. Pei (who also designed the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris) came out of retirement and traveled around the Muslim world for six months to get inspiration for the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha.

43. Qatar National Library is shaped like a spaceship and has over two million books, including many ancient maps and texts.  

44. The National Museum of Qatar, opened in 2019, was designed by world-famous architect Jean Nouvel and was inspired by the desert rose crystal found in Qatar. The palace of Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani (see historical facts below) is on site.  

45. Jean Nouvel also designed the iconic Burj Doha, which has a cylindrical shape and Islamic patterns on its exterior (Burj simply means “Tower” and is used in many building names in the region, such as the famous Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa in Dubai).

Skyline of Doha, with Doka Tower lit up in orange.
The Doha Tower (in orange) stands out in Doha’s skyline.

46. Doha’s Golden Masjid (mosque) is covered in thousands of golden tiles.  

47. Traditional boats called dhows, once used for fishing and pearling, are emblematic of Qatari heritage and can still be seen at the corniche in Doha. Most of them were made in Kerala, India.  

48. The Ardha sword dance is Qatar’s national dance and originates in Bedouin culture. Qatar also has an annual Emir’s Sword Horse Race. 

49. In northeastern Qatar, at Al Jassasiya, there are around 900 rock carvings (petroglyphs), depicting things like fish, rosettes, ships, and feet.  

A rock carving (petroglyph) of a fish at Al Jassasiya in Qatar
Petroglyph at Al Jassasiya

50. Qatar has an annual Winter Dragon Boat Race, with origins in southern China. Qatar’s first dragon boat was shipped there in 2013. 

51. The Khor Al Adaid nature reserve, an inland sea in Qatar, is on the tentative list for UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site status. If accepted, it would be the second UNESCO site in Qatar, after Al Zubarah Archaeological Site.  

52. Banana Island, shaped like a banana and found just off the coast from the Doha International Airport, has a luxury resort with Qatar’s only overwater bungalows.  

53. The Pearl, an artificial island in Qatar, is home to 30,000 residents.  

Aerial view of the Pearl Qatar
The Pearl-Qatar is an artificial island.

54. The Doha Metro, opened in 2019, runs at up to 100 km/hr, making it one of the fastest driverless trains in the world.  

55. Global Finance Magazine rated Qatar as the 3rd safest country in the world in 2021. 

56. At around $0.50/liter, Qatar has some of the cheapest gas in the world.  

57. At Al Wukair Scrapyard, 20,000 dust-covered vehicles are stranded in the desert.  

Qatar Historical Facts

58. Evidence of human occupation in Qatar goes back to the Stone Age, 50,000 years ago. It was later settled by Bedouin nomads, the descendants of modern Qataris. 

59. Pieces of pottery from the Mesopotamian civilization have been found in Qatar. 

A courtyard of the Qatar State Grand Mosque
Islam arrived in Qatar almost 1400 years ago.

60. Islam arrived in the Qatar in 628 CE.  

61. Qatar was a center of fishing and pearl trading for centuries, beginning around the 8th century. 

62. Qatar fell under several empires, including the Seleucid, Parthian, Sasanian, Umayyad, Abbasid, and Ottoman empires.  

63. The city of Doha was founded in 1825. 

64. In 1868, Mohammed bin Thani of the House of Thani (which is named after him) became the first leader of the Qatar peninsula.  

Amiri Diwan palace in Qatar at dusk
The emirs of Qatar work in Amiri Diwan, originally a palace dating to the 18th century.

65. His son, Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani (1878–1913), is considered the father of the modern State of Qatar. He led the country against the two major powers in the area, the Ottomans and British. He had 56 children. 

66. From 1916 to 1971, Qatar was a British Protectorate. On September 1, 1971, it became an independent country, with Doha as its capital. 

67. In 1940, high quality oil was found in Qatar, but drilling was delayed by WWII.  

68. Qatar’s first school was opened in 1949, and its first hospital in 1957. 

Traditional Islamic architecture at Qatar University
Qatar University was established in 1973.

69. Qatar funded rebel groups in the Arab Spring rebellions in Libya and Syria starting around 2010 as well rebel groups in the Syrian Civil War. Qatar was one of the few countries in the region to not have protests in the Arab Spring.  

70. Other Arabian countries (including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt) have severed ties with Qatar due to its involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts. As a result, visitors are not able to travel between Qatar and those countries. 

71. In 2010, the International Court of Justice declared the oil-rich and highly contested Hawar Islands off the coast of Qatar as a part of Bahrain.  

A collection of shishas (hookahs or waterpipes)
Shishas can no longer be legally smoked in public in Qatar.

72. In 2020, Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health banned traditional shishas (water pipes) in all public places in Qatar.  

73. On October 22, 2021, Qatar held its first ever election for the Consultative Assembly. Men and women were allowed to vote. 29 out of 284 candidates were women, but none of them won.  

74. In March 2021, Qatar implemented a monthly minimum wage, the first in the region to do so.  

75. In late 2022, Qatar hosted the FIFA World Cup, despite much criticism over its social policies, climate, and lack of football culture. Qatar initially agreed to allow sales of alcohol at the event, but days before it started, they went back on it.

Facts About Sheikh Tamim

76. Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is the 11th emir of the House of Thani, one of the tribes of Arabia.  

77. He was educated in the UK, graduating from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. 

Qatar's emir, Sheik Tamim, getting off a plane
State Visit of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani” by Paul Kagame is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

78. He has been the country’s ruler since 2013. He was not his father’s first choice, but his older brother had renounced his claim to the throne.  

79. He believes in traditional Muslim values and is often described as friendly, confident, intelligent, and conservative in decision making.  

80. His family adheres to Wahhabi Sunnism, the same as the government of Saudi Arabia, but less strictly so.  

81. He has 3 wives and a total of 13 children. His first wife is his second cousin.  

82. He is fluent in English and French, having gone to summer schools in France in his childhood.  

Sheikh Tamim giving a football jersey to Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro
Sheikh Tamim giving a football jersey to Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro (image by Palácio do Planalto is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

83. He has a passion for sports and has been called “the best sport personality in the Arab world”.  

84. He owns the Paris Saint-Germain F.C. football (soccer) club in Paris. It is one of the top-10 most valuable football clubs in the world. 

85. He is the 10th richest members of royalty in the world, with a net worth of $2.1 billion. 

86. He owns a yacht worth 500 million dollars, the Al Lusail.

Al Lusail, the private yacht of Sheikh Tamim
Al Lusail, the private yacht of Sheikh Tamim (image by Dauerlaeufer licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)

87. He and his family are also known for the vast collections of art and cultural artifacts.  

88. He maintains good relations with Western countries, but has been accused of supporting Islamists.  

89. In 2019, it was found that his iPhone had been hacked by US intelligence operatives working on behalf of the UAE.  

90. After meeting with Donald Trump in 2019, he agreed that Qatar would do business with major US companies such as Boeing, Gulfstream, Raytheon and Chevron Phillips Chemical. 

91. In 2021, the Pandora Papers found that his family avoided £18.5 million in taxes when they purchased three of the most expensive houses in London, UK. 

Facts About Qatari Food & Drinks

93. Machboos is the national dish of Qatar. It is a communal platter of lamb, chicken, and vegetables atop a mound of rice cooked with spices. It is the Qatari version of kabsa, a dish common throughout Arabia.  

Machboos, a common dish in Arabia
Machboos is the national dish of Qatar

94. Seafoods such as fish and crayfish are also popular in Qatar. 

95. Cooks pride themselves on creating the best spice blends using fresh spices. BizarDaqoos, and Hisso are three common blends.  

96. Dried dates are a staple treat around the country. 

A platter of dried dates.
Dried dates are a common treat in Qatar.

97. Because of the high percentage of South Asians in Qatar, South Asian food (Indian, Pakistani, etc.) is very common.  

98. Very little can grow in Qatar, so most foods are imported. 

99. Coffee is called gahwa in Qatar. The Arabic word gahwa is the source of the English word coffee.

100. Qatari Gahwa is made from dark roasted Arabica beans, usually served black with sugar, and poured from a traditional metal pot called a dallah into small cups called finjaan

101. It is usually consumed in traditional majlises (traditionally male-only spaces). It is also a symbol of hospitality and served to guests in houses and in the lobbies of hotels.  

Traditional Arabian coffee pot and cups on a carpet
Traditional gahwa (coffee)

102. Modern cafés and styles of coffee are also popular among younger generations in Qatar. 

103. Another popular drink in Qatar is karak, similar to chai, and sometimes called karak chai. It consists of strong black tea, evaporated milk, and spices like cardamom and saffron.  

104. Drinking alcohol in public is illegal in Qatar. Only a few licensed bars and restaurants serve it, mostly in 5-star hotels, and expats can purchase it for consumption at home with a permit.  

105. There are 27 McDonalds in Qatar, with a fully halal menu and items like Chicken Mac, McRoyale, Chicken McArabia, and karak chai.  

Kunafa, a dessert of sweet melted cheese common in Arabian countries
Kunafa is a common dessert in Qatar.

106. A variety of typical Arabian desserts are popular in Qatar, including kunafa (sweet melted cheese topped with pistachios), lugimat (deep fried pastry with honey), and khabees (crumbled dates soaked in rose water, butter, sugar, saffron and cardamom). 

107. Brunch is a big deal in Qatar. Typically served in 5-star hotels on Fridays or Saturdays, it is a prolonged, luxurious affair.  

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