Al Khor

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Al Khor
الخور
Municipality
View of harbor in Al Khor City
View of harbor in Al Khor City
Map of Qatar with Al Khor highlighted
Map of Qatar with Al Khor highlighted
Coordinates (Al Khor City): 25°41′N 51°31′E / 25.69°N 51.51°E / 25.69; 51.51Coordinates: 25°41′N 51°31′E / 25.69°N 51.51°E / 25.69; 51.51
Country  Qatar
Capital Al Khor City
Government
 • Mayor Ibrahim Issa Nasser Al Fadalah
Area
 • Total 1,613.3 km2 (622.9 sq mi)
Population (2015)[1]
 • Total 202,031
 • Density 130/km2 (320/sq mi)
Time zone East Africa Time (UTC+03)
ISO 3166 code QA-KH
Al Khor Fort, a far view

Al Khor (Arabic: الخور‎), also spelled Al Khawr, is a municipality in the state Qatar. Al Khor City, the municipal seat, is located in the northeast coast of Qatar, around 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the capital, Doha and it is considered to be one of the major cities in Qatar.[2] Al Thakhira is the second largest settlement in the municipality after Al Khor City.

The region was ruled by the Al Muhannadi tribe, which consists of seven Bedouin families, before Qatar gained its independence in 1971. Tourism has been increasing in recent years owing to the municipality's various resorts, natural areas and cultural attractions. Fishing was the historical mainstay of most the municipality's inhabitants.

Etymology[edit]

Al Khor Municipality derives its name from the city of the same name. In Arabic, Al Khawr means bay; it was so named because Al Khor City was near a bay. Formerly, the city was known as "Khor Al-Shaqiq".[3]

History[edit]

Al Khor Municipality was established in July, 1972, alongside Qatar's four other initial municipalities, and supervises the city of Al Khor in addition to other settlements in the municipality.[4] As of 2017, Ibrahim Issa Nasser Al Fadalah is the mayor of the municipality.[5]

Municipal seat[edit]

Al Khor City, the municipal seat, is a coastal city located 57 kilometres (35 miles) north of the capital Doha, 47 km away from Madinat ash Shamal, and 44 km away from Al Wakrah.[6] In the past, it was well known for the role it played in Qatar's bustling pearling industry, as well as for its harbour which is filled with fishing boats and small crafts. Several beaches, renovated forts and cultural attractions are found in the city.[7]

Geography[edit]

Landscape of Al Khor Island

Al Khor is situated in northern Qatar, bordered by the municipalities of Al Shamal to the north, Al Daayen and Umm Salal to the southeast, and Al-Shahaniya to the southwest. In addition to the main municipal headquarters in Al Khor City, there are Ministry of Municipality and Environment branches in Al Thakhira and Al Ghuwariyah.[8]

Mangroves (Avicennia marina) in Al Khor Island overlooking the mainland

Much of Al Khor's territory lies along the Qatari Peninsula's eastern coast, including the eastern boundaries of municipality's two main cities – Al Khor City and Al Thakhira. Numerous beaches are located in this area, including Al-Farka Beach in Al Khor City and Al Thakhira Beach.[9] A seafront promenade stretched over a 28,000 square meter area known as Al Khor Corniche runs through the municipal seat.[10]

White mangrove forests in Qatar can be found in greatest abundance near Al Khor and Al Thakhira. This species of mangroves is well-adapted to the saline conditions of the northeast coast.[11] A minimum of eight mangrove sites exist in Qatar, and all are protected areas as of a 2006 Emiri decree.[12]

Climate[edit]

The following is climate data for the municipal seat, Al Khor.

Climate data for Al Khor City
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 20.5
(68.9)
22.5
(72.5)
27
(81)
32.5
(90.5)
39
(102)
41.5
(106.7)
42
(108)
40.5
(104.9)
39
(102)
35
(95)
29
(84)
23
(73)
32.6
(90.7)
Average low °C (°F) 12
(54)
13.5
(56.3)
16
(61)
21
(70)
25
(77)
26.5
(79.7)
28.5
(83.3)
27.5
(81.5)
26
(79)
23.5
(74.3)
20
(68)
14
(57)
21.1
(70.1)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 11
(0.43)
1.5
(0.059)
2
(0.08)
6.5
(0.256)
1
(0.04)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.25
(0.0098)
13.5
(0.531)
22
(0.87)
57.75
(2.2758)
Average relative humidity (%) 61 60 56 53 49 50 51 57 60 63 69 74 59
Source: Qatar Statistics Authority[13]

Administration[edit]

The municipality is divided into 3 zones which are then divided into 454 blocks.[14] Two of its administrative zones, Simaisma and Al Jeryan, are geographically located in Al Daayen. Additionally, the village of Madinat Al Kaaban is geographically located in Al Khor but serves as an administrative zone for Al Shamal.[3]

Administrative zones[edit]

Approximate locations of administrative zones in Al Khor.[15]

The following administrative zones are found in Al Khor Municipality as of 2015:[1]

Zone no. Settlements Area (km²) Population (2015)
74 Simaisma
Al Jeryan
Al Khor City
373.9 96,169
75 Al Thakhira
Ras Laffan
Umm Birka
610.8 100,118
76 Al Ghuwariyah 628.6 5,744
Municipality 1613.3 202,031

Districts[edit]

Other settlements in Al Khor include:[16]

Education[edit]

Public schools in Al Khor amounted to 21 as recorded in the 2016 education census – 11 were exclusively for girls and 10 were for boys. A higher number of students were female, at 2,192 compared to 1,703 male students.[17]

The first school outside of Doha was opened in the city of Al Khor in 1952.[18] Al Khor International School, located in Al Khor City, is one of the largest schools in the municipality, accommodating 4,000 students of families employed by RasGas and Qatargas.[19]

Healthcare[edit]

Al Khor Hospital Training Center

The 2015 government census indicated that there are 9 healthcare facilities registered in the municipality.[20] Residents near Al Khor City are currently served by Al Khor General Hospital, which is under the auspices of Hamad Medical Corporation. It has a bed capacity of 115 and was opened in 2005. Health services provided by the hospital include general medical care, general surgery, obstetrics, pediatrics and neonatal care.[21]

Eight pharmacies were recorded in the municipality in 2013 by Qatar's Supreme Council of Health.[22]

Culture[edit]

Al Khor Museum

Located in a former two-level police station along the coast in Al Khor City is the Al Khor Archaeological Museum. It houses artifacts collected from expeditions carried out in the municipality.[23] On the ground floor of the museum, handiwork relating to Qatar's cultural heritage are on display, and there are exhibits on the maritime traditions historically engaged in by Qataris, such as fishing and ship-building. Ancient artifacts obtained from excavations, including those done on the dye industry in Al Khor Island, are hosted on the first floor, as well as geographic maps of Al Khor. On the second level, visitors are provided with a view of the bay and docks near the museum.[24]

Al-Khor SC is active in organizing social events through its cultural division, the Al Khor SC Social and Cultural Committee. A number of partnerships have been signed between the committee and local schools and organizations. The committee is responsible for organizing the Al-Khor SC's summer camps which include educational lectures and physical activities.[25] Programs put into effect by the committee include the Midar Maritime Festival at Al Khor Port, the Phantom Jets Championship in January 2015 at Al Khor Airport, diving classes, and natural history tours of various archaeological sites in the country.[26]

Al Khor Mall is an important cultural venue. It accommodates the first three cinemas to be constructed in the municipality, with a combined capacity of 600 viewers.[27] As part of Qatar's annual Eid Al Fitr Festival, theatrical performances take place in the mall.[28]

Economy[edit]

Natural gas[edit]

In the 1970s, natural gas was discovered off of Qatar's east coast in an area that came to be known as the North Field. The north-east portion of the municipality, known as Ras Laffan, was converted to a natural gas processing center.[29] At present, Ras Laffan accommodates the world's largest GTL plant,[30] the Pearl GTL which was constructed as by a partnership between Royal Dutch Shell and Qatar Petroleum.[31] Qatar is also the world's second largest supplier of helium, which can bextracted from natural gas.[32] All of the country's helium is produced by RasGas's two helium plants in Ras Laffan, which were commissioned in 2005 and 2013, respectively.[33] In June 2017, amidst the Qatar diplomatic crisis, the government ordered the two plants to be shut down indefinitely.[32]

Agriculture[edit]

Agricultural activities such as fishing and pearling were traditional mainstays of the inhabitants of this region.[34] Despite being overtaken in importance by the extraction and construction industries, agriculture is still one of the largest industries in Al Khor. Domestically, 35% of Qatar's total farmland was based in Al Khor in 2015, putting it just behind the municipality of Al Rayyan which had a 36% share of Qatar's farmland. Al Khor, however, had the highest density of farms. There were 344 farms spread out over 16,943 hectares, most of which (220) were mixed operations, 119 of which were occupied solely by crops, and 3 of which livestock were reared on.[35] The municipality had a livestock inventory of 160,675, the majority of which were sheep (109,337). Livestock numbers surpassed that of all other municipalities.[36] Root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, onions and fodder beets are some of the most important crops produced by Qatari farms,[37] the latter of which is grown in large quantities at Al Dawoodiyah in Al Khor.[38]

Fishing vessels in Al Khor City

In terms of artisanal fishing vessels, Al Khor had the highest amount out of any city surveyed in 2015 at 234 vessels. The city also had the most sailors (1,408) and was also the only major city to record an increase in the rate of sailors from 2010 to 2015.[39]

After Qatar was embargoed by a quartet composed of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in June 2017, it launched a project to fly over 10,000 cows to Qatar in order to reach its goal of food self-sufficiency.[40] This project will be based on a two-million square meter plot owned by Baladna in the Umm Al Hawaya locality of the municipality.[41]

One of the most important agricultural research stations in Qatar is located in Rawdat Al Faras. The research station, established in 1976,[42] consists of a laboratory, a warehouse and five palm tree fields hosting thousands of palm trees.[43]

Capitalizing on the municipality's rich maritime tradition, the 101,000 square meter facility of the Aquatic Fisheries and Research Centre was completed in Ras Matbakh by Ashghal in 2017 at a cost of QR 237.7 million.[44]

Three major government-owned plant nurseries are located in Al Khor; two are in the village of Al Rashida, and there is one in Rawdat Bakheela. Plants grown in these nurseries are used for research and also distributed to government ministries. The nurseries in Al Rashida each span 2,500 square meters and were established in 2003.[45] A farmers' market is found in Al Khor Yard.[46]

Housing[edit]

Al Khor's municipal council announced plans to open two workers' cities in the Abu Al Qararis area in 2016. These cities are planned to facilitate 45,000 inhabitants.[47]

Neighborhood in Al Khor City

Barwa Group carries out real estate projects in Al Khor through its subsidiary, Barwa Al Khor. In November 2008, the group unveiled its major 'Urjuan' project, which had a projected cost of $10 billion. Located near the city of Al Khor, Urjuan was described as a planned city capable of hosting 63,000 inhabitants spread over 5.5 million square km. The project had a planned completion date of 2013 and its plots were to be sold through several phases.[48] However, in December 2009, the project was indefinitely put on hold.[49]

Shell Project, a real estate project featuring 350 housing units, a supermarket, and a mosque spanning an area of 138,000 square meters, was completed by Barwa Al Khor in 2016 and its ownership transferred to Royal Dutch Shell.[50]

Al Khor Community constitutes the biggest housing community in the country. Located in Umm Enaig near Al Thakhira, it hosts 15,000 people and has well-developed infrastructure, including a medical center, five sports facilities, a library, schools, a skate park and playgrounds.[51]

Transport[edit]

Al Khor City Corniche
Air traffic control tower at Al Khor Airport

Roads[edit]

Turkish company Tekfen was contracted to construct the $2.1 billion Al Khor Expressway in August 2016.[52] The expressway is designed to be 34 km in length and will run from Doha Golf Club in Al Egla, a locality of Al Daayen, up to Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor City. A designated bicycle lane and ten interchanges are to be incorporated as part of the project.[53]

Commutes between the capital Doha and the municipality of Al Khor are currently facilitated by Al Shamal Road and Al Khor Coastal Road, with the latter road running through Al Daayen and the former running through Umm Salal.[54]

Air[edit]

Aviation traffic is controlled by Al Khor Airport in Al Khor City. The airport is mostly used by general aviation aircraft and has served as the venue of the annual Al Khor Fly-In since 2008. The fly-in lasts for two days and allows visitors to travel in and spectate aircraft. Aircraft from other GCC countries are showcased at the event.[55]

Rail[edit]

The Doha Metro's Red Line (also known as Coast Line) will extend to Al Khor. Red Line is divided into two divisions: Red Line North and Red Line South. The former will run from Mushayrib Station to Al Khor City, over a length of 55.7 km.[56]

Sports[edit]

The municipality is represented by the sports club Al-Khor SC, which play in Al-Khor SC Stadium in the municipality's capital city. Al Bayt Stadium, also in Al Khor City, is planned to be completed by the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Al Bayt Stadium, which translates to 'the house', is designed to replicate a traditional tent used by Qatari nomads. The seating capacity will be 60,000 spectators and it is set to host one of the semi-finals.[57]

Al Thakhira has its own amateur football league. In 2005, Al Thakhira FC was formed and has competed in the QFA-sanctioned Qatar Amateur League since 2013.[58]

Barwa Al Khor formally opened Al Khor Workers Sports Complex in the Al Khor Industrial Area in February 2014.[59] Intended to serve the entire municipality of Al Khor as well as portions of Al Shamal Municipality, the sporting facilities within this massive complex include four cricket fields, four football fields, four basketball courts and three volleyball courts. In addition, there are 35 shops, 2 cinemas and a mosque among its facilities. In 2015, over 500,000 people had visited the complex.[60]

Visitor attractions[edit]

Entrance to Al Khor Park

According to the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, the municipality hosts 7 parks as of 2018.[61] Al Khor City has the largest park in the municipality - Al Khor Park with an area of 240,000 square meters. Starting in June 2010, the government has invested QR 250 million in refurbishing the park.[62] This has resulted in the development of new facilities in the park such as a mini-golf course, a railway station and a museum.[63] Al Thakhira also has a major park, opened in 2009 and covering an area of 14,580 square meters.[64] Al Ghuwariyah opened its own park in 2017 over an area of 9,234 square meters.[65]

Beach in Al Thakhira

Al Khor Island (commonly known as Purple Island) is located near Al Khor City. Considered to be a domestic ecoturism destination, the island is connected to the mainland by a tapered dirt path which runs through a number of streams.[66] Aside from its scenic landscape, the island is also known for its historical role in the Kassite dyeing industry dating back several thousand years.[67]

Demographics[edit]

The following table is a breakdown of registered live births by nationality and sex for Al Khor. Places of birth are based on the home municipality of the mother at birth.[68]

 
Registered live births by nationality and sex
Year Qatari Non-Qatari Total
M F Total M F Total M F Total
1984[69] 70 45 115 25 24 49 95 69 164
1985[70] 47 38 85 20 15 35 67 53 120
1986[71] 50 57 107 21 24 45 71 81 152
1987[72] 52 42 94 23 28 51 75 70 145
1988[73] 56 42 98 21 27 48 77 69 146
1989[74] 51 50 101 25 28 53 76 78 154
1990[75] 74 48 122 27 28 55 101 76 177
1991[76] 58 57 115 23 21 44 81 78 159
1992[77] 63 64 127 19 35 54 82 99 181
1993[78] 62 72 134 23 21 44 85 93 178
1994 N/A
1995[79] 73 54 127 19 22 41 92 76 168
1996[80] 73 68 141 24 23 47 97 91 188
 
Registered live births by nationality and sex
Year Qatari Non-Qatari Total
M F Total M F Total M F Total
1997[81] 72 77 149 18 16 34 90 93 183
1998[82] 86 67 153 34 29 63 120 96 216
1999[83] 64 83 147 34 28 62 98 111 209
2000[84] 70 80 150 34 40 74 104 120 224
2001[85] 76 75 151 67 50 117 143 125 268
2002[86] 93 82 175 57 56 113 150 138 288
2003[87] 97 90 187 59 53 112 156 143 299
2004[88] 93 75 168 59 67 126 152 142 294
2005[89] 87 79 166 72 54 126 159 133 292
2006[90] 89 89 178 75 68 143 164 157 321
2007[91] 78 114 192 85 68 153 163 182 345
2008[92] 103 93 196 117 94 211 220 187 407
2009[93] 114 131 245 132 114 246 246 245 491

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