Soccer-crazy Qatar ramping up for World Cup

Doha News Admin:

CNN Photos take a look at “soccer crazy Qatar” gearing up for the 2022 World Cup.

Originally posted on CNN Photos:

Many were surprised when tiny Qatar, a Middle East nation with a population of less than 2 million, was awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

No Arab country has ever hosted the international soccer tournament, and Qatar seemed like an unlikely candidate to be the first: A minnow in the footballing world, its national team has never even qualified for the event.

But in the end, the emirate’s ambitious bid beat out several sporting behemoths, including Australia and the United States.

Now the challenge is to get ready. And Qatar is racing to develop both its infrastructure and its national team.

 “Because of the World Cup, people are starting to get more involved,” French-based photographer Isabelle Eshraghi said. “They are promoting sport and especially football inside the country.”

Eshraghi said Qatar has changed dramatically since 2004 when she first visited.

“At that time, Qatar was very empty,” she…

View original 448 more words

By Darko Glazer

MET forecasts hot, windy and dusty few days

As Qatar enters its last month of spring, expect strong winds, dusty conditions and a chance of rain through Friday, the Qatar Meteorology Department has said.

Rain is most likely to begin tonight and continue into tomorrow, a forecaster told Doha News.

On Friday, strong winds will kick up dust, and despite the chance of precipitation, a high of 36C (97F) is forecast. The evening will see the weather cool to 24C (76F).

Saturday is expected to be a more pleasant day, according to, with a high of 29C (84F) and a low of 19F (67F).

What are your weekend plans?

Credit: Photo by Darko Glazer

By Cassem Shepard

Court closes arguments in Villaggio fire case, as families await June verdict

A Qatar court has accepted written arguments from key stakeholders in the case to determine criminal responsibility in last year’s fatal Villaggio fire.

After 14 sessions, arguments are now closed, and the judge said a verdict will be announced in June, nearly a month after the one-year anniversary of the May 28 fire.

This morning, many of the relatives of the 19 people killed in the fire expressed dismay and disappointment at the 77 more days they’ll have to wait for some answers.

“We were frustrated to hear that the verdict will come out on the 20th of June,” one parent told Doha News. “Our only consolation is that the judge may rule on both the criminal and civil cases simultaneously, which will save us time. Qatari law affords the judge this discretion.”

The criminal aspect of the case will involve sentencing of jail time, if any,  of the defendants, who include the Gympanzee co-owners, four Villaggio mall officials and an employee of the Ministry of Business & Trade. The payment of blood money, which is a standard QR200,000 per person in Qatar, will also be determined.

Punitive damages

The civil aspect involves deciding how much monetary compensation to provide the victims’ families. The lawyer representing these families has asked the court for compensation for emotional and other damages, one parent told Doha News.

It is possible that the judge will decide only on the criminal aspect of the trial and leave the civil suit to another court. The case will also likely continue after the court’s summer break if either the defendants or the prosecutor appeal the judge’s decision.

Meanwhile, emotions are high in Qatar as the one-year anniversary of the fire approaches. Just yesterday, Civil Defense evacuated all of Villaggio mall as a precaution over an electrical shortage in an air conditioning unit.


Credit: Photo by Cassim Shephard

Note: The amount of monetary compensation requested by the victims’ lawyer has been removed at the request of some of the parents.

Spinneys at The Pearl

Spinneys at the Pearl-Qatar closed temporarily for violating health regulations

The municipality has temporarily closed the Spinneys grocery store in Porto Arabia at the Pearl-Qatar due to health violations.

In a message on the grocery chain’s Qatar Facebook page, CEO Michael Wright said:

Unfortunately there were weevils in a packet of dry pasta, the municipality have decided that the store should close for a period of time.

He added that the shop will be closed for at least a month. An employee at Spinnys store in the Mall, where all employees at the Pearl have temporarily been relocated, affirmed to Doha News that the shop will be closed through April.

The Pearl’s first Spinneys opened in January 2012. A second Spinneys is slated to open as the “flagship” supermarket in the Pearl’s Medina Central and will cover a space of 4,000 square meters (compared to the current shop’s 500 square meters).

Other health violations

Less than two weeks ago, the government also shuttered the Pearl’s upscale Thai restaurant Mango Tree for health violations. According to developer United Development Company, that eatery was closed for using food products from Thailand that exceeded the one-year Qatar Shelf Life law.

“The products were still within the product specifications, but exceeded the requirements for Doha,” UDC said in a statement to Doha News.

However, unlike Spinneys and numerous other outlets closed for health violations, Mango Tree will not be reopening.


Credit: Photo courtesy of Dragos Jijau/

Small Villaggio Fire

Villaggio mall evacuated after fire reportedly breaks out in shop

A fire broke out at Villaggio mall today, causing an evacuation this afternoon. Here’s the latest:

UPDATE | 3:25pm

MOI has tweeted that the building is being re-opened, but eye-witnesses say Gate 2 is still closed and there is flooding near the Topshop/Topman store.

UPDATE | 3:01pm

Though the fire has been brought under control, an employee at the mall said that he and his staff had been sent home to await further instructions, and that it is unclear whether Villaggio will re-open today. Anymore know more?

UPDATE | 2:56pm

According to the Ministry of Interior’s Arabic Twitter account, the fire was caused by an electrical issue with an air conditioning unit and has now been brought under control:

Shoppers and staff have been evacuated from Villaggio mall this afternoon after a fire reportedly broke out in a clothing store there.

According to an employee, the fire originated at the men’s clothing store Topshop/Topman near Entrance 2, close to Carrefour.

He added that the evacuation appeared to proceed smoothly.

Just a few days ago, on April 1, Civil Defense conducted a fire drill at the mall, where 19 people died in a blaze last May, to test the alarm system.

Meanwhile, authorities have struggled to get a fire at the under-construction Sidra Medical and Research Center under control today.

Fires in Qatar become more common in the summer months as temperatures rise, increasing the likelihood of electrical shortages.

Are you at Villaggio? Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Ren Wlasiuk