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Geography and Climate
Qatar’s wild mammals are hard to spot, most of them being small and nocturnal. The larger, diurnal species, like the Arabian oryx, gazelle and ibex, have been hunted down to extinction. An exception is the Arabian red fox, which can be spotted during the (winter) day. Snakes, like the dangers horned viper, and big monitor lizards feed on small rodents such as the lesser jerboa or ‘kangaroo mouse’, the jird and gerbil.
The Arabian oryx, al-maha in Arabic, is Qatar’s national emblem. It was once believed to have been hunted down to extinction, but some herds have survived outside Qatar. Nowadays this gracious animal can be seen again locally – and not just on the tail fins of Qatar Airways’ planes. In the Maha Sanctuary in al-Shahaniya they are bred in protected herds, as part of an ambitious government plan to reintroduce the animals into the wild.
Birds are much easier to sight, although the larger and tastier ones such as the Houbara Bustard and Arabian ostrich have suffered the same fate as the large mammals. Especially during the winter season the Gulf region abounds with migratory birds. They can be found wherever there is water and some vegetation, showing up at hotel swimming pools and the Doha Golf Club.
The Gulf also has a rich marine life. On the beaches north of al-Khor there are nesting sites of hawksbill and green turtles. Dolphins and porpoises can be seen off Qatar’s shores. The coral reefs attract a multitude of colourful fish as well as different species of shark.
But most important are Qatar’s proven natural gas and oil reserves. The proven gas reserves are about 900 trillion cubic feet, 13.7 percent of the world total and the equivalent of 162 billion barrels of oil. This is sufficient to support the planned production for over 200 years. Qatar’s proven oil reserves are 33 billion barrels (including condensates) and should ensure a continued output at current levels for the next 90 years (EU Energy Country File). Other mined geological resources are sulphur, limestone and gravel.
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