EMNLP 2014 will take place in the Marriott Marquis City Center Hotel, in Doha's West Bay. More details about room bookings and travel details will be posted closer to the conference date.
- Restaurants and attractions -- coming soon
Despite its arid climate, Qatar has a rich history stretching back more than 6,000 years with ancient settlements thanks its strategic position on the Persian Gulf. Now, the State of Qatar is a modern, independent sovereign country located along the western edge of the Arabian Gulf. The last few decades has seen Qatar emerge as a vibrant, economically thriving, safe, and progressive country with a focus on the future. While oil and natural gas have formed the basis of this transformation, Qatar's long term vision is to become a regional cultural, education and research hub. To achieve its vision of an advanced, sustainable and diversified economy, Qatar has invested heavily into improving infrastructure, education, science, technology, community development, arts, and creativity. Through Qatar Foundation, Qatar has built 'Education City', which hosts branch campuses of a number of internationally renowned universities including Georgetown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Weill Cornell Medical College and others. Qatar has emerged on the global sports scene, hosting the 2006 Asian Games and the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup, becoming the first Arab country to host either of the events. In line with this expansion, Qatar has witnessed fast population growth with new residents from all over the world.
This video provides some background on what to expect.
FAQ about Visiting Qatar
Where is Qatar?
"[Qatar is] located in Western Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. A strait in the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby island state of Bahrain." (Reference: Wikipedia article on Qatar)
How is the weather like in October?
During the last week of October, the weather in Doha is mild with an average high of 31C (88F) and a low of 21C (70F).
How safe is Qatar?
What is there to do in Qatar?
There is plenty to keep you busy: from a trip to the desert to soak in the beauty of the sweeping sand dunes, to retail therapy in one of the many shopping malls, to immersing yourself in culture at the Museum of Islamic Art, and much more. Some highlights:
- The Museum of Islamic Art
- Dune bashing (aka 4x4 desert safari)
- Sheikh Faisal Museum
- Zubara Fort
- The Pearl -- an artificial island spanning nearly four million square metres
- City Center Mall
For more info, please consult:
Culture and customs
I am a woman, do I need to wear a head scarf?
No. However, some modesty is advised for both men and women.
"Men and women should dress modestly as a courtesy to both Qataris and Muslims. Swimsuits and beachwear are acceptable at the hotel beaches (don't forget sunscreen), but it is not appropriate to show too much skin in other public areas. Tops should cover the shoulders and upper arms, and skirts or shorts should fall to or below the knee. Women are not obliged to cover their hair." (Reference Qatar Tourism Authority
See also: Sheikha Al-Mayassa's (the Emir's sister) TEDx talk about local costumes. It has a nice introduction about the abaya.
Can I drive in Qatar?
Both women and men can drive in Qatar.
"If arriving in Qatar on a visitor's visa it is possible to use a national licence from any country to drive a car for seven days, provided it is a rental vehicle. A driver who holds an International Driving Permit (IDP) may drive a rental vehicle for up to six months, or until the visa status changes from visitor to resident. The licence from the home country must be available for inspection as well as the IDP." (Reference: angloinfo.com)
See also: Hukoomi, Qatar e-government portal
Do I need to know Arabic to get around?
While Arabic is the official language of Qatar, English is widely spoken. Traffic signs, product labeling are usually bilingual Arabic-English.
If you want to learn a few important phrases, you can have a look here:
Computer Science and Gender Equality
How is a conference like EMNLP going to benefit women in Computer Science?
In contrast to other parts of the world, in the Gulf region Computer Science is highly dominated by women. For example, in 2010, Qatar University reported a 3:1 women-to-men ratio in undergraduate programs, and 2:1 in graduate programs. A conference such as EMNLP will allow local students, including many female students, to get exposed to ground-breaking ideas from the NLP community.
- Computing Education Blog
- Qatari Student Wins Top Award at Computer Science Conference
- Why do women outnumber men in technology in the Gulf (BBC)
- Jeanette's rendition about being an intern at QCRI
Visas and immigration
Is everyone welcome to Qatar?
Qatar is an open country and welcomes everyone. Visitors are asked to respect local customs and traditions.
How can I apply for a visa?
Attendees from many countries will need a visa or other forms of travel authorization for entry into Qatar. Entry visa rules can be complex. It is advisable to check the regulations and how they apply to travelers in advance. Depending on your citizenship, you can either obtain a visa on arrival, request a visa through a hotel, or contact the local chair for assistance. For more information, please check the visa information section.