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Posted On: 30 December 2018 01:25 pm
Updated On: 3 April 2019 12:57 pm

A timeline of the top news and events that shook Qatar during the first half of 2018

Sonkie
Sonkie
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The month of July is unlike any other month in the Gregorian calendar as it is the only group of 30 days (or more!) that officially splits the year in half. The first 6 months that passed by feels just like yesterday but as they say, we need to move on as there's another half year that's waiting for us to deal with, conquer, and celebrate.

With that, we bring you a timeline of the most important news and events that took place in Qatar over the past 6 months. Whether it's sports related or a record-breaking attempt, it's always worth scrolling all the way down just to get yourself informed and aware.

Disclaimer: This round-up doesn't include blockade-related developments as it's our legacy to always focus on the bright and positive things.

Happy reading!

January

Super Blue Blood Moon in Qatar

Qatar ExxonMobil 2018 kicks off

The 2018 Qatar ExxonMobil Open (QEMO) brought together the world’s best tennis stars to Doha. This year’s tournament ran from January 1-6 and was played on outdoor hard courts. Hosting the QEMO once again is the home of tennis in Qatar—the state-of-the-art Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.

Oman wins Gulf Cup 2018

Oman on the 6th of January won its second Gulf Cup after defeating the UAE 5-4 on penalties. The match was goalless over regular and extra time, 120 minutes of play in all. Oman last won the trophy in 2009. The Omanis played a more attacking game while the UAE just couldn't find the back of the net.

Second edition of Shop Qatar enthralls crowd

Shop Qatar 2018 was launched at a dazzling event at AlHazm Mall on January 8, 2018. The event also coincided with a series of shows in malls around the country, marking the beginning of the month-long festival, organised by Qatar Tourism Authority, in celebration of the country’s diverse retail offerings, against a backdrop of colorful cultural activities.

Paris Hilton parties at Mondrian Doha's Black Orchid

Dubbed as the 'biggest celebrity ever to visit the country,' Paris Hilton partied her heart out at Mondrian Doha's exclusive Black Orchid Nightclub and in 'Doha's best restaurant' Morimoto last January 26.

The Color Run gathers friends and families for the 4th time in Doha!

For the fourth year in a row, The Qatar National Convention Centre was jam-packed as the 2018 Color Run Qatar brought fitness enthusiasts, families, and friends together in Doha. In total, more than 9,000 Color Runners completed the ‘Happiest 5K on the Planet’ under this year’s 'Dream World Tour' theme.

Super Blue Blood Moon captivates stargazers in Qatar!

Qatar residents had a great chance to see the first Blue Moon of the year named the 'Super Blue Blood Moon' which appeared in the Doha skies on January 31, 2018. The moon was visible from 5:17 PM until the next morning at 6:50 AM (Doha local time). Its three names—Super, Blue, and Blood— are causing a buzz because it combines three unusual lunar events.

February

Frechman Pierre Daniel runs around Qatar for 7 days.

Karwa implements new structure for tariff fees

Qatar-based taxi-hailing company Karwa has recently restructured its tariff fares to include an increase in price in certain services. Standard fares per kilometre for day-time and night-time rates inside the Doha city limits have increased by 40 and 10 dirhams respectively. While similar standard fares per kilometre outside the Doha city limits have risen by 10 dirhams.

First Biryani Festival adds flavor to D-Town!

The four-day long event saw delicious delicacies and blends of spices mixed with various styles of Biryani from all over Southeast Asia, drawing in thousands of hungry visitors seeking at taste of it rich, exotic flavour.

Central Bank declares trading via Bitcoin illegal in Qatar

In a circular sent to all banks operating in the country, Qatar Central Bank (QCB) said that trading in Bitcoin is not allowed in Qatar and penalties will be levied upon violation of the new law. With its value going through the roof before crashing back to more normal levels in recent times, Bitcoin had recently become a trend. In Qatar, the virtual currency's rise to heyday was quickly put to an end with QCB's February 7 statement.

Qatar National Sport Day 2018

Now on its 7th year, the Qatar National Sport Day 2018—a public holiday—kicks off even bigger with a line-up of sports and recreational activities scattered across the country on February 13, custom-fit for the whole family.

HH Sheikh Tamim joins Instagram on 2018 Qatar Sport Day!

Last Sport Day, besides biking on the towers area in Doha Corniche early morning to promote health and fitness, the well-loved Emir of Qatar has also made his way to yet another widely-popular social media platform—Instagram!

Doha's first pet-friendly park, Al Bidda, opens to the public!

In the celebration of National Sport Day 2018, Qatar's very first pet-friendly park—and undeniably one of the biggest as well—opened its doors to the public on February 13, 2018.

Qatari resident successfully runs alone around Qatar for one week!

'Alone, A Run Around Qatar' is a challenge designed by Qatar resident Pierre Daniel to show residents and nationals the power of the human spirit, raise awareness of the country’s natural beauty and promote healthy living. The challenge ran from February 18-24, 2018 in the name of his highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani.

World's top female tennis stars convene for the 2018 Qatar Total Open!

The Qatar Total Open (QTO)—one of the most prestigious tennis events in the world—officially welcomes fans across the country at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex. The 2018 QTO will be a professional women's tennis tournament played on hard courts where nine out of the world’s top 10 female tennis players are taking part. Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova snags the top win at the 6-day sport event.

The Red Bull Car Park Drift returns for 2018!

The rubber hits the road as one of the country’s most-anticipated Motorsports events makes a full-throttle return to the Losail Circuit Sports Club last February 23! The Red Bull Car Park Drift is back with its Qatar Qualifier, which attracted dozens of contestants ready to showcase their skill on the track, alongside thousands of gear-head fans!

Doha hosts Qatar’s biggest influencer event

Global influencers, brands and several industries' representatives participated in Visit Qatar's INFLOW Summit powered by Qatar Airways. Dubbed as Doha’s biggest influencers' event, the 3-day gathering of content creators was held at the newly re-imagined Ritz-Carlton Doha.

March

Qumra 2018 hosts over 150 international film experts

Qumra 2018, presented by the Doha Film Institute, was held from March 9 to 14 hosting more than 150 international film industry experts who mentored 34 Qumra projects, mostly helmed by first- and second-time filmmakers.

Aspire Kite Festival welcomes thousands of visitors

The Aspire International Kite Festival took place from March 6 to 9 in Aspire Park for the second consecutive year in Doha. This year’s event witnessed a growing number of participating countries, with more than 102 participants from 23 countries who gladly took part.

Ninth epic year of QIFF treats foodies in Doha!

The Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) made its way to the spacious Hotel Park Doha for its ninth year! Extending over the full 80,000 sq m of the park grounds for 11 days, the annual QIFF celebrated cultural diversity through food and entertainment without neglecting the importance of healthy living and family bonding.

Qatar Airways to add 16 destinations this year

Qatar Airways once again stole the limelight on the opening day of ITB Berlin, the world’s largest international travel fair, as Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, announced the airline’s aggressive expansion plans and 16 new destinations for 2018-2019 at a full press conference.

Souq Waqif hikes shisha price to deter smokers

Souq Waqif has increased the price of shisha in the outlets inside the Souq to deter people from smoking. The management took the decision after witnessing a spike in demand for shisha in the cafes and restaurant inside the Souq.

Skydive Qatar reopens after 2-year hiatus

After a 2-year long break from the limelight, Skydive Qatar (SDQ) announced last March that they will officially begin accepting skydiving professionals and enthusiasts for registration on their opening day at the Dropzone in Um Al Shkhot Airfield on March 17.

The 2nd Aspire Lake Festival returns to take spectators through its ‘Magical Journey’

The second annual Aspire Lake Festival took place from March 23-24 in Aspire Park, Doha. The spectacular show took spectators through a half-hour ‘Magical Journey’ where more than 40 talented artists and experts came together for a showcase of theatrical performances and fireworks displays.

Qatar switches off lights for annual Earth Hour

The Earth Hour—a global movement which aims to provide repose to our beloved Blue Planet by switching all unnecessary lights and electronic gadgets for 60 minutes straight—was well observed by locals and residents in Qatar by switching unnecessary lights for sixty minutes.

April

A team of female explorers, including Qatari Sheikha Asma Al-Thani has arrived on top of the North Pole.

Entertainment World Village opens its doors!

After all the delays, Doha's biggest outdoor theme park—Entertainment World Village—officially opens its door to the public at The Pearl's Al Qutayfiya Beach area. It held its official opening on the 15th of April and it's definitely a must visit with your friends and family! The management closed the facility over the Ramadan season but came back on Eid and is reportedly extended! Visit them now before it's too late!

Earthquake strikes Iran, tremors felt in Qatar

An earthquake has hit southern Iran just 60 miles from the country’s Bushehr nuclear power plant early April and tremors were felt in Doha—with no casualties. The USGS put the earthquake’s magnitude at 5.5, while Iranian state television, citing officials, described the quake as a magnitude 5.9. Varying magnitudes are common immediately after a temblor.

Sheikha Asma al-Thani becomes first Qatari to ski to North Pole

Just eight days after starting out on their expedition to reach the North Pole, the mainly novice team of female explorers, including Sheikha Asma Al-Thani from Qatar, has arrived on top at the world. They faced freezing temperatures, open patches of water in the sea ice, as well as the constant threat of polar bears during their adventure which started on April 15 when the team departed the remote Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.

First turtle nesting at Fuwayrit Beach recorded

Right on day one of the closure of Fuwayrit Beach for the public due to the start of the turtles nesting season, the first case of nesting at the beach was recorded, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) announced mid-April. The basic measurements of the hawksbill turtle were taken and the eggs moved away from the area of tide and flow as soon as the nesting was noticed.

Military service for Qatari males aged 18-35 is now a must!

Every Qatari male between the ages of 18 and 35 or has a high school diploma or equivalent, whichever is earlier, is now required to perform a compulsory military service, according to Law No. 5 of 2018 on national service issued by the Emir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani late April. The law stipulates that no appointments will be permitted to any jobs nor any licence granted for practicing free profession or to register in the schedules of operators thereof unless the aspirant has put in mandatory military service.

May

First International Labor Organization office opens in Doha

International Labor Organization opens maiden office in Doha!

According to labor experts, Qatar could agree a deal within a fortnight to abolish its controversial exit visa system, which requires workers to obtain their employers' permission to leave the country, The Economic Times reported. In addition, the very first International Labor Organization office was opened in Doha on May 1, 2018—Labor Day.

Katara Beach scraps entry fee!

Katara confirmed early may that they are scrapping the entry fee to their beach now that the curtains of the summer season has finally opened in the country, The Peninsula reported. The price for a single entry to the beach was formerly QR 100 for adults and QR 50 for kids. The move will also allow beach goers to bring their own beach chairs and canopy.

Five planets visits the skies of Qatar!

Qatar residents got a chance to observe five planets of the solar system—Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Mercury, and Venus mid-May. All the five planets were at one point close to the Moon at different times during the visitation, Qatar Calendar House (QCH) said.

Heavy fine for smoking in car with minors

The Ministry of Public Health has launched an awareness campaign to prevent smoking in Qatar, especially in indoor places. The Ministry’s campaign starts by raising awareness of Law No.10 of 2016 on the control of tobacco and its derivatives. The law prohibits smoking in closed public spaces, including a ban on smoking in cars with minors under 18 years. These offences can lead to a fine of up to QR3,000.

Night Market for Ramadan 2018 opens

The Night Market in the parking area of Duhail Sports Club opened its doors for visitors who are fasting for the Holy Month of Ramadan. The month-long market offered a variety of products including apparels, perfumes and food items. Visitors were also able to enjoy a great selection of meals as a separate dedicated area has been allocated for a food court.

MoI curbs begging during Ramadan

The Anti-begging Section at the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ministry of Interior (MoI) has prepared a plan to fight begging which becomes rampant during Ramadan, said an official from the MoI. The plan has been prepared in collaboration with all MoI security departments, said an MoI official.

June

Qatar stronger one year after the blockade!

Qatar celebrates diversity and togetherness a year after the blockade

Despite an illegal blockade, our country has shown it's capable of looking after itself and if there's one thing Qatar won't do is back down in the face of adversity. It's been just one year since the blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt began against Qatar. However, the move has spectacularly backfired as the people of Qatar have emerged stronger and united; new trade routes have opened up, there's no shortage of essentials, and the economy remains strong thanks to the leadership of HH the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Eid-Al-Fitr celebrations kick off

From mall entertainment and shows to indulgent brunches, locals and residents in Qatar were out and about with the public holiday that Eid Al-Fitr brought them.

Summer Entertainment City 2018 opens its doors!

The Summer Entertainment City 2018—Qatar's biggest indoor entertainment event—opened its doors on the first day of Eid Al-Fitr at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center (DECC) and they're offering a plethora of fun attractions for the whole family! It's ongoing until August 31, 2018, so don't miss out!

First Qatari feature film screened in the country

The feature film 'A Woman in the Time of Blockade,' which is currently on display in Qatari theaters nationwide, shows the moral aspect of the Qatari people in dealing with the siege, as it addresses the crisis from the humanitarian point of view. The film also shows the spirit of affection and tolerance of the Qatari people and their adherence to national constants, according to its director.

For the 2nd half of 2018 Year-End report, click HERE.

What top news or events did we miss? Can you add more entries to this list? And what are you most looking forward to for the second half of 2018? Drop us a line in the comments below and also, don't forget to like and share this article—it keeps us going!

(Cover image courtesy of aarphotography.com)