During the humid summer months it’s easy to lock yourself up in the A/C and get lost in cyberspace so we took to the internet to find the greatest apps, services and websites available in the country. We also pay homage to Qatar’s vibrant blogging community. On your marks, get set… surf!
Need to know sites
Hukoomi is Qatar government’s e-portal which tells you absolutely everything you need to know about living, working and staying short-term in the country. In terms of online government services it’s brilliant: residents can renew their health cards or pay utility bills, businesses can issue residence permits and apply for work visas, tourists can check the status of their visa or even find out the weather in real-time, while students can apply to Qatar University and access the digital Islamic library. Families, too, pay their zakat (charitable practice and a pillar of Islam) and can calculate their pensions. Suffice to say it is a definite go-to site!
Qatar National Library is practically uploaded online at this website. The upcoming project, which comes under Qatar Foundation, is exciting because it aims to be a fully functional and very impressive house of tomes. This website offers plenty of resources and suggested reading for download, gives access to all of the library’s collections and has an application form that allows you to request a public tour of their recently launched Heritage Collection, which offers loads of insight into Qatar’s fascinating history.
Not only does the overarching Qatar Museums Authority site give you the lowdown on every one of their current and upcoming museums, it also fills you in on all the events they have going on. On top of all that, it has an ‘opportunities’ tab which isn’t just for people looking for jobs but for those of you who have something significant to contribute to their exhibitions.
This may have started out to be all about Dubai but now Dubizzle has a very handy Qatar section too. We recommend this unbiased site when it comes to property listings, rooms for rent, items for sale and also job vacancies. You have to be a little careful as sometimes you’ll find spam and fake listings but the rule of thumb to go by is that if it’s too good to be true, it most definitely is!
Of course! Not to blow our own horns or anything but our website is pretty useful when it comes to finding out where to eat out, party, shop, play with your kids, exercise, travel, pamper yourself and much more. You can buy certain tickets, the website is updated constantly with the week’s best events and houses everything you’ve ever seen in the mag. Plus, we bring you the latest movie reviews from Time Out’s panel of worldwide experts. And if that’s not enough, we also give easy access to the other regional titles so you know what’s on all over the Gulf.
Oh so nifty services
The lazy lump inside of us loves this site because it means not even having to go through the hassle of calling for food! Talabat is a regional site with a Qatar portal which lets you see all of their partner restaurants’ menus and allows you to place an order for delivery there and then. It breaks it down into cuisine type, location and even shows you the most selling dishes. They’ll call you once to confirm you’re a real person and then, when your details are stored with them, they’ll never bother you again.
Buy It, Sell It, Swap It Qatar (Facebook)
This is a Facebook group where people in Qatar gather to sell their unwanted wares and you know what they say... One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Get fantastic bargains and meet some new people on the way as you buy, sell and swap whatever you may have. Just make sure you follow the rules set by the founders which can be found on the page.
This is a first for Qatar – an online retail marketplace! On Doha Sooq you can find bundle bargains, compare prices on products in the country and shop it all from home. Popular categories include electronics, fashion, beauty, jewellery, health, mobile phones and accessories. There is also a gifts section where you can order a present online and get it delivered to the recipient’s front door anywhere in Qatar. It’s powered by Doha Bank so the site itself is safe and secure.
Get amazing new discounts every week on a wide range of products all throughout Qatar at the Vouchers Club. It costs QR190 a year to join but then you’ll have access to discounts on dining, beaches, spa and beauty treatments and children’s entertainment. Plus, they give one percent of their revenue to charities so you’re helping while saving.
There’s a new deal every day for Qatar that is ripe for the snatching on Qgrabs. What you do is head to the site and see what’s on (you can also sign up to receive email alerts for the deals). If you like it, click ‘buy’ and share it with your friends. There’s a minimum amount of people that need to be interested in each bargain so once it hits its target you got it! They’ll email you the voucher and then all you need to do is print. What’s on offer varies wildly from jewellery to health and beauty products, from travel offers to discounted dining and much more.
All of these are available for free on iTunes.
We’re sure none of our readers are Road Runners or illegal parkers but just in case you ever need to check if you owe any fines to the Traffic Department you can type in your car registration number to this app and find out straight away!
Arabic Dictionary Free
Being media folk, we like anything that enhances communication so this is a must-have app in our books. Type in any word in English or Arabic and get the translation immediately. There’s over 62,000 English and 64,000 Arabic words in an offline dictionary.
Access the Ministry of Interior through this app and get services relating to official documents, exit permits, settling traffic violations, visa enquiries and paying fees and fines.
Al Jazeera English
Don’t be left out of the loop – get this app to stay up-to-date with the world’s goings on. It’s got a user-friendly interface and is full of the latest breaking news headlines, opinion pieces, features and on many devices offers the 24-hour live stream broadcast.
If you happen to be with this telecom provider its app allows you to view your usage, pay bills, top up credit, manage Shahry accounts and redeem Nojoom Points. Perhaps the handiest thing about it though is that you can search the phone directory. Also, during Ramadan, Nojoom members can use it to redeem their points to donate to charities.
Many a residents go-to news site, Doha News is honest, informative and full of respectable journalism. It’s updated every day and big news will often be treated with live blogging coverage so you’re always kept up-to-date.
Brit and family man Nat High records his experiences in Doha on Bright Lights, Little City. Head here for Qatar insights written by a relatively new expat with wit and finesse.
Written by mother Vani Saraswathi, The Life of Umm is a more serious read than others and looks at life in Doha through the eyes of an experienced journalist. Her chosen quote sums up the blog and her beliefs well: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’ – Voltaire.
Reporter Philippa Stewart has a ‘stream of consciousness’ (as she describes it) called Flip Thinks. It covers a range of topics from life in Qatar to growing up and even her brush with domestic abuse. We recommend reading ‘Forgetting how doors work and other tales…’ for an amusing list of reasons why you know you’ve been in Doha too long.
Qatar’s first rotation curation Twitter account is now online. Each week a new curator will tweet as often as they can about anything they like. The rules are just to keep it interesting and considerate! Think you’re up to the task? Why not give it a go yourself?
We ask writer Rachel Morris about her witty yet cheesy blog, Life on the Wedge.
What made you start this blog?
I love to write, love to travel and I also love cheese, so I had this idea to combine the three. If you just write a blog about cheese, you attract a fairly small and niche audience, so I spiced it up with a challenge – 365 new cheeses in 365 days. So far I have done more than 100 and each one has a photo and a story. I find that writing about what you are interested in makes it more compelling.
Plus, it gives me an outlet from my day-to-day work life.
What do you like best about blogging?
I love being able to combine three things I love - travel, writing and food. I also love it when people, not just my mum, read it and give me feedback or a comment. The cheese essentially is just a frame for a story. I also love the fact that I have been able to improve my photography skills. For me, a picture is as important as the words.
What are your tips for amateur and other bloggers?
Commit to a project but don’t over promise to yourself. If you can do one post a week, be honest and don’t say to yourself you will do a post a day. If you don’t manage your own expectations, you will disappoint yourself. Also, invest in a good camera if your blog is about food, travel, etc. People love photos.
What is your most read post?
Two posts have rated through the roof – one ‘Are You Going My Whey’ is about a Middle Eastern cheese and the most recent one was a restaurant review. I think people like my headlines and my take on the cheese or the venue... it’s not just ‘oh then we had the soup. It was delicious.’