When I was 17 years old, my big sister made a life-changing decision to move across the globe to Qatar, a small country in the Middle East.
Many people experience falling in love with countries like France or Italy and take trips back there any chance they can get—but for me, it is this small, humble country called Qatar that stole my heart.
I used to be ignorant to where Qatar was until I visited my sister there for the first time in 2014. I came to recognize the beauty I was missing out on. From the incredible infrastructure to the mesmerizing views, the exciting festivals and the respectful people, I was completely captivated.
I returned to Qatar in December 2017 and was still amazed by its technilogical advancements and peaceful environment. The moment I stepped out of the airport, I remember feeling like I was back in my second home.
Qatar is now known to many as the location of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, or the country that has now been shunned from the Middle East—basically the Pluto of the universe—due to Saudi Arabia’s decision to block all trading. However, the country is still misunderstood by many.
Whenever I tell people I’ll be travelling to Qatar, I receive the following responses: “Where’s that?” or “Isn’t it dangerous there?”
I understand that the media has depicted the Middle East to be an oppressive, patriarchal and war-torn place, but Qatar is literally the opposite.
While you’re driving down the Doha roads, you see Muslim women walk in comfort and confidence in their hijabs and abayas. You see the men wearing their traditional Qatari thobes, showing just how patriotic they are—all while non-Qatari folk are also comfortably enjoying the country. Everyone is coexisting together despite their differences. It’s something western media seems to think that the Middle East is incapable of.
As of 2017, Qatar has officially become the richest country in the world, which doesn’t surprise me. Other than the obvious reason of being a gas-rich state, the city is filled with lavish restaurants, huge malls, incredible buildings and kid-friendly festivities. The money seems to be put towards making the country as enjoyable, relaxing and safe as possible for everyone.
As for whether it’s dangerous, statistics by OSAC, United States Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security, shows that, “registered homicides [in Qatar] were 97.5 per cent lower than the global average.” Furthermore, according to an article written in the Gulf Times, “Qatar ranked second on the list of the safest 24 countries in the world, according to the annual report issued by the Swiss Golden Visa organisation in 2016.”
So, to answer everyone’s question once and for all: No, Qatar is not a dangerous place. I’m sure my sister wouldn’t choose to raise her two daughters there if it were. It’s important for people to step outside of the media’s lens and educate themselves on life outside of North America.
Since the beginning of the year, celebrities like Paris Hilton, Shay Mitchell and Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor have all visited Qatar, showing it to be the deluxe and embellished place that it is.
Qatar can be listed as a top destination place for many people if it wasn’t categorized according to the stereotypical view of the Middle East.
I’m looking forward to the millions of people who will attend the FIFA World Cup in 2022 because they will be able to truly understand why Qatar is a prosperous country to add to their bucket lists.