Though Qatar is a relatively small country, many residents here say they find it difficult to meet people outside of their familiar circles of friends.
In an attempt to break down some of the social and cultural barriers that separate people living here, a few entrepreneurs based in Qatar have recently launched Doha Heat, a podcast that focuses on the country’s residents.
A podcast culture is almost non-existent in this region, but the new project appears to be picking up speed since it launched in June.
New 20 to 30 minute clips are posted several times a week as free downloads on iTunes.
They introduce listeners to different local personalities through interviews with people from big and small businesses, and backgrounds in health, lifestyle, sports and comedy.
According to John Savage, co-founder and Doha Heat columnist, what has attracted people to listen so far is the program’s rawness. Savage and the interviewee typically have an informal conversation that is aired with minimal editing.
The format prompts listeners to feel as if they are listening in on private, intimate conversations – a different approach to gleaning news than is typically found in a region where rigid self-censorship is common.
Recalling interviewees who took it upon them to share personal insights, Savage said:
“Mada, who are part of ICT Qatar (Supreme Health Council), were happy to openly discuss disabilities in Qatar nationals and expats they help. Simon Joss at Belle Harvey Interiors was also incredibly open of some real low moments in his life in Qatar before hitting it big with Belle Harvey.”
Other interviewees have also openly discussed their past bouts of depression while in Qatar as well as personal fame pressures. Some have taken a lighter approach by through doing on the spot improvisations of British interviewer Savage himself.
In terms of the future, Savage told Doha News that his group plans to reorganize the structure of the show, among other things, to help facilitate Doha Heat’s steady expansion:
“Because of the number of people that want to come on the show, we have decided to segment the show. Each day will have a different genre. We’ve also been speaking to established organizations here about taking over the Sunday slot so that they will be able to tell our listeners what events are on during the rest of the week.
We also have a comedy club agree to run a comedy half hour under the Doha Heat brand from September, which is phenomenal. We will also be rolling out more developed social media platforms for Doha Heat listeners.”
Have you heard any Doha Heat podcasts yet? Thoughts?