Do you remember when most transactions in Qatar needed to take place face-to-face, or at the very least, on the phone? (It wasn’t that long ago).
Over the past few years however, things have changed rapidly with the growth of locally-focused websites, apps and social media groups.
Now, instead of driving miles across town to the bank, post office or immigration department, residents can accomplish many simple tasks without leaving home, making daily life a lot easier.
But keeping up with what’s changed can be tricky. A desire to help people stay in the know is what led to the creation of popular Facebook group When, Where & How in Doha (WWH) in 2013.
WWH now has more than 50,000 members, and its co-founders built on the page’s success recently by launching a companion website.
Speaking to Doha News, co-founder Sean Garrett said:
“My wife Claire decided that Doha was a really bad place to get accurate information. The online forums we saw were usually out of date or the information on them was just wrong.”
WWH members share knowledge by answering questions as diverse as where to find the right kind of fishing rod to getting help on fixing a cracked iPhone screen to updating people on whether Cheesecake Factory has opened yet (it hasn’t).
They also share personal successes, challenges and tragedies.
According to Garrett, the new website aims to be “very inclusive,” covering all nationalities and cultures.
“We want the website to be able to have a broad appeal and to propel different nationalities to realize we all have skills and can help each other,” he said.
Popular apps and websites
In the same vein, a new generation of apps and websites are now making tasks more simple (or making life more fun) in Qatar. We asked Doha News readers on Twitter to tell us which apps they used most.
Here are the five most popular picks:
The Ministry of Interior’s free app was hands-down the most commonly recommended by our readers.
The app, which requires your phone to be registered in your own name, offers more than 100 different services, including the transfer of car ownership and the ability to view and pay for traffic violations.
More recently, the Metrash app began allowing motorists to report minor traffic accidents.
The restaurant finder app Zomato was also very popular. Qatar’s foodies use the service to scout for newly-opened places, find eateries near their current location and read reviews.
For those unsure of what they want to eat, Zomato offers some helpful guides on breakfast places, restaurants that are open late and other categories.
Alongside fellow traffic and navigation app Waze, Google Maps is a vital tool for motorists trying to navigate the dreaded Doha traffic.
The app’s color-coded key make it possible to assess potential road misery before setting off, thereby saving lots of time (and lowering everyone’s blood pressure, to boot).
The Entertainer app
The Entertainer, a bumper book of discounts for restaurants, hotels, spas and other entertainment outlets, is a well established go-to for residents seeking a good deal.
The Entertainer app works in a similar way, but means you don’t have to remember to bring your vouchers with you everywhere you go. Heavy users recommend always telling your server you plan to use a voucher before ordering your meal.
Residents who use Ooredoo for their TV, broadband and phone services told us that they love the company’s app, which allows customers to check their usage, pay their bills and upgrade (or downgrade) their plans online.
Just this week, Ooredoo announced the app is now available to any Hala or Shahry, regardless of whether that have a Qatar ID.
What apps or websites would you recommend? Thoughts?