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Qatar is preparing to make history by hosting not only their first FIFA World Cup™, but the first ever to be staged in the Middle East. And the peninsula promises to produce a World Cup like no other.
It will be the smallest nation ever to host the global finals, for one, allowing visitors to navigate the country with ease – and even plan for watching multiple matches on the same day. Add to the mix traditional Arab hospitality, and winter weather conditions ideal for watching and playing the beautiful game, and Qatar’s World Cup promises to be one to savour.
The Qatari peninsula shares its only land border with Saudi Arabia, though Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates can be found nearby to the north-west and south-east respectively. It is well used to receiving foreign guests, with a vibrant ex-pat community accounting for 80 per cent of its population.
Qatar has also spent recent years constructing some of the most eco-friendly and architecturally advanced sporting facilities ever seen. All will be on show to the world as the greatest show on earth finally lands in the Middle East.
Humanity is considered to have existed in Qatar for 50,000 years, with settlements from as far back as the Stone Age having been discovered.
The country was introduced and converted to Islam in the seventh century.
Having fallen under the control of various empires down the centuries, Qatar became a British protectorate in 1916.
Following the discovery of oil reserves in the 1930s and the expansion of national infrastructure in the subsequent decades, the country declared independence in 1971.
Before the discovery of oil, fishing and pearl hunting were the nation’s dominant industries.
These days, Qatar is the world’s second-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.
The country’s currency is the Riyal.
With a compact surface area of just 11,000 square kilometres, Qatar is ranked by the United Nations as the 163rd-largest country in the world. The Qatari peninsula can be traversed from top to bottom in little over two hours.
The vast majority of the nation’s 2.5 million inhabitants can be found in its capital, Doha, which lies midway up the eastern coast.
Qatar does not have any perennial rivers or lakes but does have several wadis. The wadis experience intermittent water flow during the rainy season, which lasts from December to March, encompassing the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Temperatures in December tend to be around 20 degrees Celsius, sometimes pushing up into the higher 20s.
Eight hours of sun per day, allied to those clement temperatures, make Qatar a popular location for holidaymakers in the winter.
There is very little rain throughout the year, though on average one damp day during the month is expected.
The country’s official language is Arabic, but English is also commonly spoken.