Qatar boasts the richest people in the world. By a long way. The average citizen earns $132,886 each year, and despite its recent brush with Covid-19, the country’s economy is projected to keep growing.
Topologically, Qatar is a little uninteresting. Along with San Marino, Greenland, and Oman, it’s one of only four territories in the world without forests. Most of the country is, of course, desert, though the coastal Al Thakhira Nature Reserve includes a mangrove-covered island and is a paradise for nature lovers and snorkelers.
Doha, however, is where it all happens. Over 90 per cent of the population lives in the capital, which boasts ultramodern architecture, luxury shopping malls, and exquisite hotels, along with fine cuisine from around the world. Anything and everything you could ask for is on the menu here; Oriental, Indian, European, American and African cuisine. You can even find the more traditional Qatari dishes. And that, first and foremost, means machboos.
Also known as kabsa, this rice dish comes with all sorts of delicious spices and any kind of meat you have to hand. Similar to biryani, this dish is enjoyed all over the Middle East; here in Qatar it’s usually made with basmati rice flavoured with black pepper, cloves, cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, black lime, bay leaves and nutmeg, and garnished with almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, onions and sultanas.
Stews and soups also feature: saloona is basically spicy meat and/or vegetable broth containing tomatoes, aubergine, carrots and potatoes; thareed (bread covered in carrots, beans, onions and potatoes cooked with chicken or lamb and mixed with tomato sauce and spices) is a favourite at Ramadan; and harees (boiled, cracked, or coarsely ground wheat mixed with meat) is another Ramadan dish, often enjoyed at iftar.
Desserts such as umm ali (bread pudding with nuts and white raisins), and esh asaraya (cheesecake topped with cream), are also a big part of Qatari cuisine. And karak (a blend of tea, milk, water, sugar and cardamom boiled together and simmered over a low flame to intensify the flavour) is enjoyed everywhere, by everyone.