Ashghal

New Hamad Port Road

It should now be easier to drive between Doha, Hamad Port and Al Wakrah following the launch of two new main roads to the south of the capital.

This week, an 11km southern extension to the existing Doha Expressway was connected to the recently-opened G-Ring Road with Mesaieed Road.

The new route means traffic in the area no longer needs to travel through the main road in Al Wakrah.

This should improve congestion in the town and cut in half the journey time between the increasingly popular area and Doha, Ashghal said.

Ashghal

Benefits of Hamad Port Road and Doha Expressway southern extension

Commuters had previously complained about long traffic snarls in the area due to lack of capacity on the roads.

It’s also now easier to get to and from Hamad Port, after a new 14km road opened linking to G-Ring Road.

The route cuts travel times between the Industrial Area and the port. This means food and goods can be transported more efficiently from the docks to supermarket shelves and construction projects around the country.

Expressway extension

The new, southern extension of the Doha Expressway runs for 11km from the south of Al Wakrah to the junction with G-Ring Road, a QR4 billion project that was completed in April this year.

Ashghal

Doha Expressway southern extension

According to Ashghal, this road will eventually be linked with the existing sections of the Expressway. Currently, this ends at a junction with E-Ring Road.

So far, four of five lanes in each direction are open to traffic. Final works are still underway on the five interchanges on the route, which are expected to be finished in the coming months.

Once completed, these multi-level interchanges should improve connections between the increasingly popular southern residential districts of Al Wakrah and Al Wukair, and central Doha.

Ashghal said the project also includes:

  • 20 bridges,
  • One tunnel,
  • Eight underpasses, and
  • 42km of new pedestrian and cycle paths.

Hamad Port Road

A new 14km stretch of road has also opened to traffic to improve access between Hamad Port, the Orbital highway and the Industrial Area.

Ashghal

Hamad Port Road

The road is four lanes in each direction and runs from Um Al Houl interchange by the port, south of Al Wakrah, up to G-Ring Road.

With a capacity of 8,000 vehicles an hour, the new route should cut journey times by about 15 percent, according to the public works authority.

Will the new roads improve your commute? Thoughts?

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Al Jazeera English

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In a possible sign of thawing relations, Saudi Arabia is reopening its land border with Qatar so that pilgrims can cross over to perform Hajj.

The decision comes by order of King Salman, after his son Crown Prince Mohammed met with an envoy from Doha yesterday, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.

The meeting, in which officials expressed “brotherly feelings,” marked one of the first times Saudi and Qatari authorities have spoken since the dispute began in June.

arwcheek / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

That’s when Saudi, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain cut economic and political ties with Qatar and closed their borders to its nationals, citing political reasons.

Free flights

According to SPA, the King has also instructed Qatari pilgrims be flown to Jeddah via private jets at his expense.

The Hajj announcement comes as the Gulf dispute enters its third month, and after Saudi Arabia drew international criticism for politicizing the pilgrimage.

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

Pilgrims at Mt. Arafah during Hajj

Officials had previously said Qatar residents were welcome to perform the Hajj, but they couldn’t use Qatar Airways to fly into Saudi Arabia.

This year, Hajj starts at the end of August.

A Muslim who is physically and financially able is required to perform the pilgrimage at least once in their lives.

Thoughts?

Pixabay

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Don’t let the sticky summer weather discourage you from going out this weekend.

There’s lots to do around town, including checking out an exhibition by photographers from the Philippines, playing or watching basketball and volleyball tournaments and testing your wits against Mindsports opponents.

Here are our picks:

Mindsports challenge

If you are a chess champion, a Go gamer or are brutal at backgammon, then the 4th Mindsports World Championships could be for you.

Mamooli/Flickr

For illustrative purposes only.

Starting Aug. 19 until Aug. 27, the event at the Doha Exhibition and Conference Center (DECC) in Dafna/West Bay will feature competitions for six different games, including Arabic and English Scrabble, e-sports such as FIFA and Call of Duty, as well as chess, bridge, backgammon and Go.

There are entry fees to participate, and cash prizes for winners. For details on event schedules and registration, see here.

Filipino photography

Daily life in Qatar will be the focus of a new photography exhibition at Katara Cultural Village which opens on Aug 17.

Katara

Qatar Through Filipinos’ Lenses

The display, Qatar Through Filipinos’ Lenses, is being hosted in conjunction with the Embassy of Philippines in Doha. It will include works by locally-based photographers.

The free exhibition at Building 19 will run daily until Aug 27. from 10am until 10pm daily.

Volleyball battle

Qatar’s expat volleyball league is pitting 14 of its best players against one another in the Battle of the Titans at Qatar Sports Club in Dafna/West Bay.

Q-Tickets

Battle of the Titans volleyball

The exhibition games, on Aug. 18, include a men’s match from 5pm with Josh Villanueva, Vince Mangulabnan, Marck Espejo,Tony Koyfman, Ish Polvorosa, Peter Tores, Isay Marasigan and Rex Intal.

The women’s match, from 7pm, will include Rachelle Ann Daquiz, EJ Laure, Julia Morado, Sisi Rondina, Chie Saet and Royce Tubino.

Tickets cost from QR50 to QR150 per person and are available online from Q-Tickets. No reserved seating.

Basketball challenge

Aspire Active is launching a Triple Threat basketball tournament at Aspire Dome on Aug. 19, with free registration for men 18 years and older.

Aspire Active/Facebook

3×3 basketball tournament

Teams will be made of three players, and can be made on the day of the tournament.

The event takes place from 10am until 6pm and is open to all. See here for more details.

Festival parades

Angry Birds, Smurfs and Disney’s Pluto will take part in Summer Festival parades at DECC on Aug. 18 and 19.

Summer Entertainment City/Facebook

Parades at Summer Entertainment City

The life-size plush mascots will tour the venue, meeting and greeting with fans young and young-at-heart throughout the weekend.

The parade is free, but entry to Summer Entertainment City costs QR15, and games and activities cost extra.

Children under 2 years (with proof of age) old are free. You can buy your ticket online here, and more information on the event is here.

To mark Independence Day, Pakistani and Indian nationals get a 40 percent discount on the gold and platinum passes this weekend. More information is here and here.

Appliqué art

Learn how to create your own artwork using fabric and the technique of applique during family workshops at Katara Cultural Center this weekend.

Katara

Applique workshops

Classes will be in Arabic and English and are open to men and women. They are held in Katara Art Studio B19 from 5pm until 7pm. Places are limited to a maximum of 12 per class and cost QR200 per person. More information is here.

What are your plans this weekend? Thoughts?

Lesley Walker / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only

The cost of food and transport jumped last month amid an economic blockade against Qatar by its neighbors.

But the crisis barely affected the overall cost of living in the country during July, new government statistics show.

Goods and services for local residents were up just 0.2 percent in July compared to the same time last year, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Pixabay

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

That’s because spikes in food and transport were offset by declining costs in other areas, including housing and clothing.

Food costs jump

Food and drink rose 4.5 percent compared to July 2016, while transport costs shot up 7.5 percent year-on-year, the Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics (MDPS) said yesterday.

The higher costs of food won’t come as a surprise to Qatar residents.

Many have complained about rising grocery prices since the neighboring Arab states began their blockade of Qatar in early June.

Shabina S. Khatri / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In particular, the cost of fresh produce and dairy goods, many of which were previously brought in from Saudi Arabia, appear to have seen the biggest jumps in price.

This is despite the Qatari government covering much of the additional cost of importing them from further away.

Notably, food costs are more controlled in Ramadan, which ended in late June.

MDPS

Food and drink price increases, July 2017 CPI

This as well as the blockade could explain why June prices rose only by 2.4 percent compared to the same month last year.

Other areas that showed inflation in July include education costs, which rose 3 percent year-on-year; and healthcare, which went up 2.8 percent.

The cost of several other household expenditures fell last month however, offsetting any increases. They include:

  • Clothing and footwear: Down 4.3 percent year-on-year;
  • Water, housing, electricity and fuel: Down 3.6 percent;
  • Recreation and culture: Down 2.5 percent;
  • Miscellaneous goods and services: Down 2 percent;
  • Communication costs: Down 1.1 percent;
  • Restaurants and hotels: Down 0.8 percent; and
  • Furniture and household equipment: Down 0.7 percent.

Meanwhile, tobacco costs remained flat, year-on-year.

So, although some of the prices stickers on goods at the supermarket give the impression that life in Qatar is more expensive, actually in many areas, it is cheaper than it was at the same time last year.

At the beginning of this year, the CPI stood at 1.2 percent – and that was the lowest it had been in the previous 12 months.

Rental drops

Increasingly expensive residential rental accommodation had been one of the main factors affecting living costs throughout 2015 and early 2016.

Peter Kovessy

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

However, the residential rental market began softening in the latter part of last year, continuing through early 2017.

Real estate agents DTZ reported in May that slower population growth and increased supply in some housing areas have translated into rent reductions of around QR1,000 a month compared to the last quarter of 2016.

How has your budget changed in Qatar? Thoughts?