2018 Doha DL Diary, preview 1: A preview on Doha, Qatar, opening of 2018 Diamond League season!

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If I am not going to be at an event, either Stuart Weir or Cathal Dennehy will be there. This time, Stuart Weir is covering the opening for the Diamond League 2018 season. Here is Stuart Weir's first article on the 2018 event. Doha is one of my favorite events on the circuit and a great place to catch up on the health and fitness of athletes. Incredible Legacy.jpgDoha Diamond League, photo by Qatar Olympic Committee

Boats in the gulf.JPGBoats in the gulf, Doha, Qatar, photo by J. Stuart Weir

The 2018 Diamond League gets underway this week in Doha. On the face of it Doha is a strange place for a Diamond League event. Shanghai, Rome, Paris, London etc, great cities of the world, yes but Doha?

Just in case you were wondering Doha is in Qatar, in the Middle East. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf, which separates Qatar from the nearby island country of Bahrain. Qatar is a peninsular country whose terrain comprises arid desert and a long shoreline of beaches and dunes. The capital, Doha, known for its futuristic skyscrapers and ultramodern architecture inspired by ancient Islamic design, has a population of 1.3 million.

Skyline.JPGSkyline of Doha, Qatar, photo by J. Stuart Weir

According to IMF figures Qatar is the richest country in world as of 2017. With a population of approximately 2.7 million, it has a total GDP of approximately $124,000 per person.

Here are a few more things about Qatar you might not know.

1 Qatar's total population is about 2.7 million, of whom only 313,000 are Qatari citizens and 2.4 million are expatriates.

2 The North Field has gas reserves of over 900 trillion cubic feet in addition to the country's oil reserves of over 15.2 billion barrels.

3 Qatar was under British rule 1916-1971.

13th century Iranian Dragon headed candlestick.JPGThirteenth Century Iranian headed candlestick, Center of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar, photo by J. Stuart Weir

In recent years Qatar has developed into a country which likes to host sports events. The key body, the Qatar Olympic Committee, arranges over 80 events every year. As well as Track and Field, the country has hosted:

AFC Asian Cup and the Arab Games 2011,

2015 AIBA World Boxing Championships

2015 Men's Handball World Championship

2016 UCI Road World Cycling Championships

There are also the following annual international events:

Tour of Qatar cycling race

Commercial Bank Qatar golf Masters

ExxonMobil Tennis Open and Qatar Total Tennis Open

Qatar International Rally (motor sport)

Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar (Moto GP)

F1H2O UIM World Championship (power boats)

In 2022 Qatar will host the FIFA Soccer World Cup.

Sheikha Asma Al Thani, a member of the Qatari Royal Family, former Director of Marketing for the Qatar Olympic Committee told me: "Qatar is passionate about sport. We love how sport can change communities, can change societies. We love how sport breaks boundaries. We love how sport can challenge everyone to achieve a specific goal. That is why we are passionate about it and will do our best to continue hosting such events. We want to have people witness and experience these events in Doha".

An unusual venue perhaps but clearly a country that has earned its spurs as a host of sports events.

A seventh centure Syrian Ewer.JPGA seventh century Syrian Ewer, Center of Islamic Art, photo by J. Stuart Weir

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