No Excuse for Obesity in Qatar

For those who are used to the green parks and fresh air of European cities, Doha will surely seem like a flat land of sand and unbearable, unbreathable heat. You may feel inclined to justify the high percentage of obesity in this country by the fact that because of the above factors people are not used to walking around or riding a bike.

Obesity is a huge problem in Qatar: statistics say that some forty percent of Qatari nationals are obese and another forty percent is overweight, which makes Qatar one of the fattest countries in the world; even in first place according to some questionable websites.

That’s understandable if you just think that here in Doha you don’t even have to lean out of the window of your car to get your order from a drive through: most of the eateries and fast foods have their guys in the street ready to get and deliver the order through the window. And this is just the tip of the iceberg; even grocery stores have their “street guys” and many ATM machines are positioned right on the curb, with the panel at car window level.

Qataris are proud of the great capacity of their stomachs, and they eat huge amounts of food during main meals: Arabic cuisine is based on deep fried items, greasy spreads, spicy grilled meats, bread and rice, but Qataris don’t disdain western food like pizza or burgers either. Apart from the main meals of the day, they are also used to eating a great amount of sweets, dates, and other dried fruits and nuts together with huge milky beverages throughout the day. All this without moving a single muscle for the whole day.

However, together with a campaign to fight obesity, the Qatar government is putting in great efforts to foster a sporting culture by hosting many Asian and world championships; it is needless to mention the 2022 World Cup hosting bid, which was won last year by Qatar, raising big surprise and a lot of questions.

This year Doha hosted the international congress and exhibition “Aspire for Sport”, advertised by the claim “Passion for Creating a World Sporting Tradition”, which hosted international sports celebrities and closed with the friendly soccer match Egypt v Brazil. The congress preceded the Arab Games, the Olympics of the Arab countries, which is taking place in Doha from 9 to 23 December.

The Aspire Sport City itself is the symbol of world cup 2022 live stream online celebration of sports. Its imposing Aspire Tower (now housing a brand new five star hotel), mimicking the shape of the Olympic Torch, keeps its eye on the other magnificent surrounding structures, such as the public pool shaped like a boat and the Aspire Dome which is constantly lit up with lights of different colors, just to name a few.

All these facilities are open to the citizens for practicing any sport they like, but you can also just wander around the Park or run the jogging and exercise trail while watching national sports teams practicing in the open air courts.

The Aspire Park is green and dotted with trees, some of them with swollen trunks and which were brought all the way from Argentina. In the lake geese and swans live and play with fishes and water features. There are even birds here, but only in the twitter played through speakers strategically hidden in the leaves.

Maintaining a green park in the middle of a desert peninsula which benefits from an average of only seven days of rain a year requires a lot of effort, so you will constantly see groups of guys puffing and panting while removing the grass carpet or installing a new one; it takes an average of two days for the grass here to turn from green to yellow and no watering solves the problem.

However, the parks and recreations government budget is still extremely generous and able to give Doha the image of a perfectly livable city while giving no excuse not to fight obesity with some regular activity in the open air. Trying to change fat dining habits and lazy lifestyles is probably out of the question.

I am an Italian journalist, blogger and freelance copywriter currently living in Qatar.
My main passions and area of expertise regard arts, music, fashion, travels, nature, animals, feel free to contact me if you need any help with your contents!