There’s almost certainly never been a more exciting time for football in Qatar. The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ hosts were crowned champions of Asia for the first time in 2019, hosted two editions of the FIFA Club World Cup and now will be hosting the FIFA Arab Cup 2021™.
The Qatar peninsula shares its only land border with Saudi Arabia, though the island of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates can be found nearby to the north-west and south-east respectively.
Stretching out over a compact 11,000 km-squared, Qatar is ranked 163rd according to UN data in terms of country size, with one being able to traverse it from top to bottom in a little over two hours.
The vast majority of the nation’s 2.5 million inhabitants can be found in the capital, Doha, midway up the eastern coast. Arabic is the official language, though with the large ex-pat community – accounting for over 80 per cent of inhabitants – and the tourism trade means English is also commonly spoken.
Climate and tourism
With eight hours of sun per day in the winter months, alongside the springtime temperatures, the capital is a popular location for holidaymakers. Be they escaping the northern hemisphere’s colder months or wanting to sample Qatar’s touristic offerings away from the heat of its summer.
Temperatures in December tend to range around 20 degrees Celsius, sometimes pushing up into the higher 20s, with very little rain throughout the year full stop – though on average one damp day during the month is expected.
Doha is packed with cultural options to give you a taste of the Qatar of past and present. Souq Waqif offers a bustling traditional market full of sights, sounds and tastes; get a dose of culture from the Museum of Islamic Art or National Museum of Qatar; or take in the staggering architecture of the Qatar National Library and Katara Mosque.
Beyond the city there is plenty to be found among the rolling dunes, be you trekking by camel, or visiting the UNESCO recognised nature reserve at the Khor Al Adaid inland sea, where wildlife like turtles and ospreys can be found.
Football in Qatar
The national team are currently riding high after they triumphed at the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in 2019, with Felix Sanchez’s men scoring 18 and conceding just once – coming in the 3-1 final win over Japan.
The star of the competition came in the shape of Almoez Ali, with the 23-year-old hitting nine goals to claim not only the golden boot but also clinch player of the tournament.
Al Sadd, coached by Spanish World Cup-winning legend Xavi, saw out his illustrious career at the club, captaining them to their first title in six years. They are also the only Qatari side to have lifted the AFC Champions League – twice, the latest of which coming in 2011 – bringing with it their one trip to the Club World Cup, finishing third.
Outside of the capital, where six of the league’s competing teams can be found, Al Rayyan is the next biggest hotbed of football, with both Al Rayyan and local rivals Al-Gharafa having scooped a combined 15 national titles – eight and seven respectively.