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Lesley Walker / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A 25-year-old man has been diagnosed with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), in the second case Qatar has seen this year.

The patient had sought medical advice at a primary healthcare center in Qatar after suffering from fever, cough and body pain for several days, the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) said.

He tested posted for MERS and was admitted to the hospital in stable condition.

Claus Rebler/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Health officials are working to identify the possible source of infection, as the man had not traveled out of the country recently, or been in contact with anyone else with MERS.

Other patients

MERS is a viral respiratory illness, and can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, coughing, a sore throat and in some cases, diarrhea.

Last month, Qatar’s first MERS case of 2017 was announced. The 62-year-old expat was admitted to Hamad Hospital after being diagnosed with the virus.

BSIP/UIG

MERS

As with the most recent case, the patient had not traveled outside the country or been in contact with symptomatic people in the weeks leading up to his illness.

The man experienced fever, night sweats and abdominal pain before testing positive for MERS.

He has since fully recovered and was discharged from the hospital, MOPH said yesterday.

Camel link

Overall, the country has seen 20 cases of MERS since the virus was discovered in 2012, seven of them fatal.

The vast majority of cases worldwide in the past five years have originated in Saudi Arabia.

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Studies are ongoing to find out how the disease spreads. Due to links to camels, people with chronic health conditions, the young and the elderly are advised against contact with the animals.

A vaccine against the illness is now in the works and is expected to be out by the end of the year, officials previously said.

The ministry has urged residents with any questions about the virus to call two 24-hour hotlines at 6674 0948 and 6674 0951.

Thoughts?

SCDL

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With just five years to go before the 2022 World Cup, Qatar has almost completed its first stadium for the tournament.

Khalifa International Stadium in Al Waab will be ready to launch next month, organizers have announced.

The venue marked a milestone this week after 7,800 square meters of turf was laid there in record time.

According to the Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF), a new world record was set after the pitch was put down in just 13 and a half hours.

Stadium construction

Khalifa International is one of Qatar’s oldest stadiums, and has been undergoing renovations over the past few years to become tournament-ready for 2022.

It has a 40,000 seat capacity and will host games up to the quarter-finals during the tournament.

SCDL

Al Wakrah stadium seat design

At least seven more stadiums in Qatar are expected to be up and running by 2020.

However, Khalifa International was expected to be handed over by the end of 2016.

Since it is at least four months behind schedule, whether the other venues will be completed in three years’ time remains to be seen.

They are Al Rayyan, Al Wakrah, Al Bayt Al Khor, Qatar Foundation, Lusail, Ras Abu Aboud and Al Thumama.

Growing grass

In a statement, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL) said the pitch was transferred from its “turf nursery” in Al Rayyan.

A dozen different species of grass are currently being tested inside the farm, which is being run in conjunction with the AZF.

AZF

Laying down the pitch at Khalifa International stadium

The most resilient, highest-performing and best-looking turf will be used on the stadium pitches for the World Cup matches.

The SCDL is also operating a tree and turf nursery in northern Qatar. The aim of that space is to grow greenery to surround Qatar’s World Cup stadiums.

Thoughts?

Ziad Hunesh/Flickr

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Qatar has the second most competitive economy in the region when it comes to travel and tourism, a new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) has found.

But it still lags far behind the UAE, which was once again ranked the strongest country in the region, according to the WEF’s Travel and Tourism (T&T) Competitiveness Report 2017.

The WEF stated that the index measures “the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country.”

QTA

Eid celebrations, 2016

In Qatar, which is trying to diversify away from oil and gas, tourism is becoming an increasingly important part of the economy.

But at 47th out of 136 nations, it remains some ways behind the UAE, which was ranked 29th for its performance this year.

That said, both nations have fallen in the rankings, in part due to the success that other countries saw with their tourism strategies.

Qatar’s score

While Qatar scored highly in terms of safety and security, health and hygiene, price competitiveness and ICT readiness, it fell down when it came to “international openness.”

WEF

Qatar’s scoring in the Travel and Tourism (T&T) Competitiveness Report 2017.

This was due to its strict visa requirements and lack of regional trade agreements, the report said.

Qatar’s lack of natural and cultural resources also hurt its rankings.

It is home to only one UNESCO World Heritage site (Al Zubarah Fort), for example. And the percentage of “protected areas” in the country is also very low.

Rhandy Pelaez/Flickr

Al Zubarah Fort is Qatar’s only UNESCO heritage site.

Finally, its high particulate matter concentration, which affects air quality, brought Qatar’s environmental score down significantly.

On the plus side, the country did score highly in terms of its tourism infrastructure and air/sea transport.

It also ranked better than most nations for having low incidences of terrorism and came in first out of all countries for its mobile network coverage.

Best and worst

According to the WEF, the best countries to visit in 2016 were Spain, France, Germany, Japan and the UK.

The worst were Mauritania, DR Congo, Burundi, Chad and Yemen.

Pixabay

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The report found that overall, competitiveness in the travel industry is growing, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

It also noted that travel and tourism is helping to build bridges during an era of “walls between people.” Additionally, countries that embrace a digital strategy were more likely to attract visitors.

But the report also warned that going forward, environmental sustainability will be a key challenge for many nations.

Patrick Gage Kelley/Flickr

Photo of Sealine beach for illustrative purposes only.

According to the report:

“The more pristine the natural environment of a country, the more tourists are inclined to travel there, and the more they are willing to pay to access well-preserved areas. Consequently, as the natural capital depletes, destinations lose revenue.”

This will likely apply to Qatar as well, which has plans to revamp its coasts to make beaches more attractive to visitors in the future.

Thoughts?