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Thunderstorms in Qatar

Thunderstorms rolled through Qatar yesterday, slowing down traffic on the roads as well as in the air.

Many people shared photos and videos of the downpours last night, focusing in particular on the dazzling electrical storms that lit up the sky:

The storm over Barwa City, by Dean Croucher.

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#doha #qatar

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Lighting and Earth hour

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For some, the rain was a good excuse to spend the weekend indoors.

Others complained however of hours-long delays in flights to and from Doha, prompting Qatar Airways to warn flyers to check their status before heading to the airport:

More rain on the way

Many people also complained about an increase in traffic accidents due to waterlogged roads.

The downpours are expected to continue today, according to local forecasters, so the Ministry of Interior has been warning people to drive safe:

And for those struggling with flooding in their neighborhood, the government is asking residents report any problems by calling these numbers:

Al Sarayat

Rain in March is not that unusual, and inclement weather usually marks the country’s transition from winter to spring, a period called Al Sarayat.

According to the MET, this period goes from March 20 to mid-May. It is charactered by weather fluctuations, including warm and cold fronts, as well as dry and hot winds.

Severe weather such as violent lightning strikes, strong winds, heavy rain and dust are also common, forecasters added.

What are you seeing out there today? Thoughts?

Jameel Riaz / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only

Qatar has regained its position as the second happiest nation in the MENA region this year, after losing that spot to Saudi Arabia in 2016, according to an annual UN report.

Qatar ranked 35th overall out of 155 countries in the World Happiness Report 2017, up one spot from last year.

That puts it two places ahead of Saudi Arabia, which is 37th – down three places from 34th in 2016.

George Shahda/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Meanwhile, the happiest country in the Middle East continues to be the UAE, which moved up from 28th to 21st place this year.

Elsewhere in the region, Kuwait ranked 39th overall, and Bahrain 41st.

Holding its spot

Although Qatar’s ranking has remained relatively constant over the past two years, it had previously been placed much higher up the list.

Qatar ranked 27th from 2010-11 and 29th in the 2012 report.

Reem Saad / Doha News

2016 Dhow Festival

Its drop in the index last year was likely due to to the inclusion of non-Arabic speakers for the first time.

Previously, only Qataris and Arab expats had been surveyed.

How the list is compiled

To arrive at their findings, report authors the Sustainable Development Solutions Network considered a range of factors, including statistics such as GDP per capita and life expectancy.

The World Happiness Report

A table from the UN Happiness report

People’s perceptions on the following categories also factored into the rankings:

  • Social support (having someone to count on in times of trouble);
  • Trust (a perceived absence of corruption in government and business);
  • Freedom to make life decisions; and
  • Generosity.

The report showed that Qatar’s score was buoyed by its unusually high GDP per capita score.

However, it fared less well in areas such as generosity and healthy life expectancy.

Most of the report’s data comes from the results of the Gallup World Poll series.

Quality of life index

Though Qatar’s score has stayed relatively steady in the World Happiness Index, it didn’t do so well in another recent survey.

Jon Bowles / Media Drum World

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Doha came 108th out of 231 cities in the annual Mercer Quality of Life Index, a list of global cities ranked by quality of life for expats.

The index is used by employers to assess pay and allowances for expat staff.

It factors in a city’s political and social environment, infrastructure, recreation options, medical care and health considerations.

However, Mercer does not go into detail about individual country scores.

Infrastructure index

For the first time, Mercer also created a separate index that singles out the status of infrastructure around the world.

Doha does marginally better in this index, coming in at 96th. But it still lags behind regional rivals Dubai (51st) and Abu Dhabi (67th).

Damon McDonald/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

While Doha now has an award-winning airport and many new roads and junctions, its metro system is still some way off, and residents regularly report long tailbacks on the roads.

Rob Thissen from Mercer said that infrastructure – roads, airports, rail, electricity and water supplies – could “considerably affect the quality of living that expatriates and their families experience on a daily basis.”

He added:

“A well-developed infrastructure can also be a key competitive advantage for cities and municipalities trying to attract multinational companies, talent, and foreign investments.”

Thoughts?

Reem Saad / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

From a World Cup qualifier match to concerts to a gymnastics competition and a spring fair, there’s lots going on around Qatar over the next few days.

Here are our picks:

Qatar vs. Iran

The highly-anticipated 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Qualifiers match between Qatar and Iran is tomorrow (March 23) at 7pm at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium (Al Sadd Sports Club).

Reem Saad / Doha News

Qatar National Team

Match tickets will only be sold at the venue itself and go on sale starting tomorrow at 4pm. They cost QR50 for category 1 and 2 tickets, and QR100/each for VIP.

The ticket booth will be located near the VIP and general spectators’ parking outside the general spectators’ entrance.

Access to the VIP section will be through gates 1 and 10. Qatar fans can enter from gates 4 to 9, while Iran fans can enter through gate 2. A dedicated family section is also available that can be accessed through gate 3.

The venue gates will open at 4pm and stadium gates will open at 5pm. A Fan Zone will also be located near the general spectators’ parking and will open its doors to the public from 4pm to 6:30pm.

Artistic Gymnastics

The 10th Artistic Gymnastics World Cup Series will kick off in Doha today, March 22, and run until Saturday, March 25.

The international event has attracted more than 120 gymnasts from some 30 countries to compete for US$50,000 in prize money.

Ray Toh

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The competitions are taking place at the Aspire Dome and run from 4:30pm to 7:30pm on all days.

Tickets can be purchased online and are free during today and and Thursday’s qualifying events. Prices on Friday and Saturday range from QR30 to QR100 per person. Children under the age of six years old are free.

Visit Doha Gym’s website for more information.

MotoGP Grand Prix of Qatar

The highly anticipated 2017 MotoGP Championships will hold its first grand prix of the season this weekend at the Losail International Circuit.

The event starts on Thursday, March 23 and runs until Sunday, March 26.

Losail International Circuit

MotoGP

Riders across the three motor racing classes (Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP) will all take part in various events held over the four-day long prix, with finals slated for 6pm, 7:20pm, and 9pm respectively on March 26. A more detailed schedule can be found here.

Regular grandstand tickets for the weekend cost QR200/person.

VIP village tickets that grant attendees access to a hospitality area above the pit garages, a gourmet dinner, a paddock tour and a pit lane walk cost QR2,550 for one day and QR3,250 for two days. All tickets can be purchased online.

Esrar Race

Qatar’s first obstacle race, which has so far attracted over 500 participants, will take place at Aspire Park this Saturday, March 25 starting at 7am.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The race will feature Qatar’s Olympics champion Mutaz Barshim and include more than ten custom-built obstacles ranging from monkey bars, high wall jumps (6 and 8ft), high wall climbs, sandbag lifting, a vertical cargo net, and a balance beam, among others.

The race is open to women and men who are 18 years and older. A registration fee of QR365 is required and can be paid online.

Les Portageux concert

French-Canadian folk band Les Portageux will be performing in town this Friday at Katara’s Drama Theater in Building 16.

Les Portageux / Facebook

Les Portageux

Hailing from Quebec, the band name was chosen as a tribute to the lumberjacks who risked their lives chopping wood and floating timber on dangerous rivers.

Using various instruments including the banjo, guitar and violin, the band aims to recreate music from before radio and television, when people came together to sing in the evenings.

The concert will run from 7pm to 8:30pm and is free and open to all. However, registration is required and can be done here. Children below 10 years old will not be allowed entry.

Caribbean concert

In the mood for some Caribbean music? Head over to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Doha this weekend a Caribbean concert hosted as part of the Voyage en Francophonie.

Singer Ymelda Marie Louise will be performing on the Ritz-Carlton’s Garden stage alongside musicians from the Qatar Music Academy.

The event will take place both tonight and tomorrow (Mar. 22 and 23) starting at 7:50pm.

Entrance is free, but seats are limited.

Friends of DBS spring fair

The Doha British School (DBS) is having a spring fair this Saturday, March 25 from 10am to 2pm.

Several activities are planned for the event, including raffles, silent auctions, bouncy castles, henna and face painting, a bake off and a barbecue.

The event is open to all and cost QR5 per person, but free for kids under age of two years old.

What are your plans for the weekend? Thoughts?