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Visiting Qatar the hard way in 1983: All we could see there was… nada

Qatar, Qatar, Qatar! We see the word everywhere we look at the moment. But when we hear it spoken, it sounds like Cotter, Cutter, Gutter and, in Mexico, Catarrh.

pg8aThese pronunciations are common, but not exactly authentic.

I’m not an Arabic speaker, but after living in Saudi Arabia for 13 years, I did learn how to pronounce a Q, the letter qāf.

That Q has to come from down low in the back of your throat where you make a g, but you have to turn the g into a sort of click. Just say, “got tar,” starting off with a guttural click and you’ve got it, sort of.

Now let’s go back to 1983 when I was living in the Saudi Arabian city of Dhahran. If you think pronouncing Qatar correctly is difficult, good luck with Dhahran!

The distance between Dhahran and Qatar is 290 kilometers, so when my neighbor Kevin asked my advice on a good place for us to go camping, I said, “Let’s go to Qatar; I have no idea at all what we’ll find there.”

Kevin had a big camper, so we loaded it up with provisions and his two young boys and off we went.

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