More than two million people remained in Qatar at the end of last month – the highest figures seen during the month of June, according to new government data.
That means this Ramadan will be one of the busiest holy months Qatar has seen in its history, as fewer people are choosing to leave the country during the usual summer exodus.
Typically, thousands of people depart on vacation in June after schools get out and head to countries with milder climates, or to visit family and friends.
But not so this year. As of June 30, 2014, there were 2,151,745 in the country – down 22,290 from May, according to official figures from the Ministry of Development, Urban Planning and Statistics.
Many people may be choosing to remain in Qatar after the end of the academic year because of Ramadan, as residents may find it easier to fast here, and to postpone traveling until after Eid.
If that is the case, August will likely be much quieter in Qatar – which could come as a relief to many residents who remain or return to the country next month.
This week, many people have been complaining on Twitter about heavy traffic on the roads during the start of Ramadan – not just at the traditionally busy times around sundown and after Iftar, but throughout much of the day:
— Yacine (@____yacine____) June 30, 2014
— Gustav (@g00serides) July 1, 2014
According to the MDPS, June’s figures reflect a snapshot of the population, taking into account the number of people who are inside the country on June 30.
In comparing this year’s figures to previous summers, it is clear that fewer people are choosing to leave Qatar in the hotter months begin – likely due to Ramadan, which has fallen during the summer months over the past couple years.
While some 20,000 people left Qatar in June of this year, nearly 47,000 people departed at the same time last year. And in June of 2012, even more people – 73,390 – left – perhaps to go on holiday and return to Qatar for Ramadan, which began on July 20.
Because the population of Qatar was lower in previous years, the number of people leaving accounted for a much higher percentage of the total number residents here.
August is the most popular month in Qatar for traveling, and the time which shows the greatest dip in population.
Last year, there were 98,000 fewer people in the country in August than in May. This could also be linked to the summer being a common time for people to finish contracts and leave the country for good.
However, September’s population figures usually show a sharp increase, as residents return from holiday and there is an influx of newcomers. Last year, more than 170,000 people entered Qatar in September, putting the population above two million for the first time.
That fall, journey times around Doha suddenly doubled with the extra traffic on the roads, as the infrastructure struggled to keep pace with the population.
In a bid to ease congestion, the public works authority Ashghal has been converting many roundabouts into intersections with traffic lights and is undertaking an overhaul of C-Ring road to create more lanes.
Meanwhile, the pressure on places in hospitals and schools continues apace as more and more people come into the country to help build the many mega-projects planned in time for Qatar hosting the World Cup in 2022.
What do you expect in September? Thoughts?