QNHG Announcements:

The College Of Arts & Science invites you to attend a presentation: Underwater Video Survey for Sharks & Fish in Qatar Using Virtual Reality Technology 

Research Participation - National Museums and The Public Imagination
My name is Ann and I am a Research Assistant for the research project "National Museums and the Public Imagination", a research project led by a team of international and local researchers, and funded by the Qatar National Research Fund.
We like to invite participants from your network to take part in our focus groups discussing Qatari cultural sites, heritage and museums. Whether participants regularly engage in cultural activities in Qatar or not, we would love to hear from you and value your opinions!
The project aims to develop an understanding of the social and cultural perception and impact of the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) across key demographic groups in Qatar, both Qatari nationals and expatriates. Please contact me for more information.
Please also visit the project’s website for more information -
The National Museum of Qatar and the Public Imagination
The National Museum of Qatar and the Public Imagination research project is led by Dr Karen Exell and a team of international and local researchers, and is funded by ...
Thanks a lot for your time reading this and I look forward hearing from you!
Ann-Kathrin Lange
PhD Candidate Museum Studies
UCL Qatar
P.O. Box 25256
Georgetown University Building
Education City – Doha
Mobile: +974 3348 0002

1st March 2017: A new publication on the surface geology of Qatar is available for free download
TITLE: Origin and types of silica in the Lower Eocene Carbonates of the Rus Formation, Qatar, Middle-East
The author, Mr. Jacques LeBlanc, first reviews the most important known processes that have been put forward for the formation and occurrences of silica in carbonate sediments and relate these theories to the Rus Formation of Qatar. Secondly, he summarizes the geology of the Rus Formation; and thirdly, he highlights the main points of his investigation within the selected six areas of study (Dukhan, Simsima, Thakira, Shahaniya, Umm Bab and Jaleha)  and discusses in general terms few others. While the Simsima area stands out for the quality and quantity of quartz geodes, the Dukhan area has been the most fascinating to study. This area has been known to archeologists for many years as containing peculiar and unique chert nodules, however, to this day, no one had conducted a study to ascertain their origin. From his findings, this silica is related to the tectonic setting of the anticline of the Dukhan oil field and its origin is linked to the silicified remains of the main tubular conduits of paleo-freshwater springs charged with a high content of sulphide (and possibly oil).  The environment that existed at the time these springs were active (during the Miocene - not Eocene) must have looked similar to the water-gas-oil seepage currently taking place in Azerbaijan.
The publication has 111 pages and is 12Mb in size. It can be downloaded from the author's " Google Drive"
To learn more about the author, visit his website at https://sites.google.com/site/leblancjacques/fossilhome

QNHG - Birding Enthusiast

As many member will know, thanks to the excellent talks by ornithologist Neil Morris, Qatar is alive with bird life. This may not be apparent to the casual observer, but during the spring and autumn migrations, Qatar is temporary home to literally hundreds of bird species.
Organised trips to farms, parks and coastal locations have shown members how rewarding birding in Qatar can be.
QNHG member and birding enthusiast Richard Angwin is looking to hear from other members interested in birding, with a view to developing a community of birders to share information and arrange trips to known birding hotspots.
Any interested members should email him at rhangwin@gmail.com 

Contest to solve one geological/geographical enigma of Qatar (QNHG)
I wish to request the help of all the members of the QNHG to try solving a geological  & geographical enigma of Qatar. The person  who will solve the problem will win a price (detailed below).
PART 1: I am currently investigating (and writing about) "Silica from the Lower Eocene Carbonates of the Rus Formation, Qatar". One area under investigation is located few kilometres NNW of the town of Dukhan (see page 1 of PDF). In this area, there are interesting features which are most likely related to "Paleo-Silicified Water springs" (See pages 2&3 of PDF). In the same area can also be observed some small non-silicified "mud volcanoes" (See pages 4&5 PDF) created by water expulsion. While these occur at the surface of the Rus Formation, they are certainly younger than the Rus (I suspect Mio-Pliocene or younger).
PART 2: According to the 1975 Stratigraphic Lexicon, the Mauddud Formation is a Cretaceous formation that takes its name from "Ain Mauddud" (or "Ayn Mauddud"), a locality near Dukhan (Note: "Ayn" means "spring"). The name was given by Dr. F.R.S. Henson in an unpublished 1940 report. According to the Lexicon, "The Mauddud Formation takes its name from Ain Mauddud, a locality near Dukhan, Qatar" (See page 6 of PDF).  In addition, a 1948 geological report on the surface geology of the northern portion of the Dukhan anticline written by Dr. Max Chatton states "the little water spring of Mauddud on the seashore". (See page 7 of PDF)
I wish to find one (but preferably both) of the following:
  1. A copy of the 1940 report written by Dr. Henson.
  2. The exact locality/coordinates of the Ain Mauddud water spring. 
If I am correct, 

  1. I suspect that the water spring of Mauddud is (or was) just below sea water level (possibly in the intertidal)
  2. It will be near the area of paleo-silicified water springs (page 1 of PDF) which I am currently investigating
A) I used the below two links to try to find the locality of Ain Mauddud but these sites have no information about it:

B) I have also asked for help from some friends at QMA and MOE to locate the spring, but so far nothing.
C) I have also researched the QP archives and the BP archives in London for the Henson's report; but they do not have it.
D) The Qatar National Library ( www.qnl.qa ) does not seem to have the Henson report either

The person who provides me with either a copy of the 1940 report from Henson and/or the exact locality of the Mauddud spring will win the Cretaceous fossil fish from Brazil shown on page 8. The contest would be opened until December 31st 2016.

Hawksbill Turtle Conservation Project: 2016
To assist the female nesting turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs, the Environmental Science Center, Qatar University, is conducting a beach clean-up at Fuwairit Beach in the N.E. of Qatar on Friday 22 April at 4:00-6:00 PM. The rallying point will be the 'rough ground car park' opposite the Landmark Shopping Mall undercover shopping entrance on Al Markhiya Street at 2:15 PM sharp. Please wear closed shoes for safety.  Gloves, water and snacks will be provided.
Best regards,

Jeff Obbard, Ph.D.
Director: Environmental Science Center : Qatar University

Qatar Bird watching March 2016  

Ethiopian hedgehogs Short-term research assistant (paid)
We are looking for a short-term research assistant for the ongoing hedgehog project during the summer 2016.
The main duty would be to take responsibility to maintain a captive colony, and collect data, of Ethiopian hedgehogs throughout July 2016. Our captive hedgehog colony is located in the Qatar University Farm. There would be a care-taker who looks after the animals (e.g. feeding, cleaning). 
It is desirable that the research assistant has a zoology/veterinary background or training, and understands basic animal welfare.
If you are interested in the position, please contact Nobby Yamaguchi for more details (yamaguchi@qu.edu.qa).
Nobuyuki Yamaguchi, BSc, MSC, DPhil
IUCN Cat Specialist Group
African Lion Working Group

Volunteers for the 2016 Qatar Turtle Conservation Project
Dear QNHG members,
Many of you have expressed interest in assisting the Environmental Science Center (ESC), Qatar University on the 2016 Qatar Turtle Conservation Project. This is much appreciated thank you!
The project is focused on the conservation and protection of the endangered Hawksbill turtle in Qatar during its nesting period, and the subsequent hatching period when juvenile turtles emerge from their eggs to enter the ocean. As the 2016 turtle season approaches, we are sending out this email to invite you to attend a project seminar and sign-up event.
The event will be held on the Thursday 03 March at 18:00hrs in the Research Complex Building at Qatar University.
The purpose of the event is to provide volunteers with an overview of the aims and scope of the project, as well as to schedule volunteer sessions for this year’s season. Interested persons will be able to sign-up.
To volunteer on the project for specific time, periods during April to July 2016.
Please confirm your attendance by replying to Mr. Mark Chatting of the Environmental Science Centre (e-mail: mchatting@qu.edu.qa)
Once again, thank you. We look forward seeing you on 03 March.
Best regards,

Jeff Obbard, Ph.D. Director: Environmental Science Center : Qatar University

Email: jeff.obbard@qu.edu.qa
Tel: (+974) 4403-3968: Mobile (+974) 3045-3640


Studies of Gulf War Toxins by former WCM-Q Professor Highlighted in New Research Breakthrough

Environmental toxins may increase risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and ALS

Doha - January 2016: One decade after returning from deployment to the First Gulf War, some U.S. military personnel started coming down with the unusual paralytic symptoms of ALS at twice the incidence rate of those who received the same training but were not dispatched to the Gulf.

Former Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) Professor Renee Richer, now of the University of Wisconsin-Marinette, thinks she knows why. During her eight years as Associate Professor of Biology at WCM-Q, Dr. Richer found that flat plains in the Gulf deserts are not devoid of life, but are covered with dried cyanobacteria crusts waiting for winter rain to complete their life cycle. Cyanobacteria are the oldest living bacteria on earth, that normally live in water, but can thrive in a multitude of environments. If these soil crusts in the desert are disturbed by an off-road military vehicle or tank tread, the dust carries a toxic load of BMAA.

A new study published by the Royal Society of London in the biological research journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, indicates that chronic exposure to the environmental toxin BMAA may increase risk of neurodegenerative illness. Conducted by scientists at the Institute for EthnoMedicine, a non-profit medical research organization in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and the University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank, the report indicates that exposure to BMAA, can trigger ALS and other neurodegenerative illnesses in vulnerable individuals. These illnesses cause a degeneration of the nervous system, especially the neurons in the brain.

Brain tangles and amyloid deposits are the hallmarks of both Alzheimer’s disease and also of an unusual illness suffered by villagers on the Pacific Island of Guam. Pacific Islanders with this unusual condition suffer from dementia and symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease, ALS and Parkinson’s disease. The diet of the Chamorro people is contaminated by the environmental toxin, BMAA.

The cause of neurodegenerative disease remains largely unknown, and the role of environmental factors in these illnesses is poorly understood. However, scientists have long suspected a link between BMAA, a neurotoxin found in some harmful algal blooms, and also in the brains of people suffering from ALS and Alzheimer’s disease. But today’s announcement provides a new level of proof.

“Our findings show that chronic exposure to BMAA can trigger Alzheimer’s-like brain tangles and amyloid deposits,” said Paul Alan Cox, Ph.D., an ethnobotanist at the Institute for EthnoMedicine and lead author of the study. “As far as we are aware, this is the first time researchers have been able to successfully replicate brain tangles and amyloid deposits in an animal model through exposure to an environmental toxin.”

When Professor Richer first met Cox in the deserts of Qatar during her time at WCM-Q, she was intrigued with his hypothesis of inhaled BMAA-dust as an environmental trigger for AL
S. Together with her WCM-Q postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Aspa D. Chatziefthimou, Dr. Richer began an extensive survey of toxins in desert crusts.

“We were astonished that up to 87% of the deserts of Qatar are covered with cyanobacterial crusts,” she said. “Even more concerning was our discovery that the toxins they produce accumulate in the desert soil beneath them.” The scientists felt there was a link, but the missing puzzle piece was an animal model showing that exposure to BMAA could produce neurodegenerative illness.

In the research findings just announced in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, scientists conducted two separate experiments on vervets. In the first experiment, vervets were fed fruit that was dosed with BMAA for 140 days. All of the animals developed neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid deposits that were similar to the Pacific Islanders who died from the disease. However, vervets that were fed an equal amount of L-BMAA, but with the addition of the dietary amino acid, L-serine, had a reduced density of tangles. Vervets fed a placebo dose did not develop this neuropathology.

A second experiment was conducted, which added a BMAA dose closer to the amount the Chamorro villagers would be exposed to over a lifetime. The first group of vervets received fruit containing L-BMAA, the second group received fruit containing one-tenth of the regular dose of L-BMAA, the third group received fruit containing equal amounts of L-BMAA and L-serine, and the fourth group received fruit containing a placebo. After 140 days, tangles and amyloid deposits were found in the brain tissues of all of the vervets who consumed BMAA.

“This study takes a leap forward in showing causality—that BMAA causes disease,” said Deborah Mash, Ph.D., director of the University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank and co-author of the study. “The tangles and amyloid deposits produced were nearly identical to those found in the brain tissue of the Pacific Islanders who died from the Alzheimer’s-like disease.”

The discoveries are important because they have implications for populations in areas where cyanobacteria blooms are common, such as Qatar, the wider Gulf region and also Marinette, Wisconsin, which lies on the short of Lake Michigan and close to Lake Winnebago.

Dr. Richer added: “These new results suggest that water quality may be an important issue to now address in terms of neurological health."

The parts of the research conducted by Dr. Richer in Qatar were made possible by NPRP grant 4-775-1-116 from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation). The statements made herein are solely the responsibility of the author[s].

Dr. Renee Richer is an assistant professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin-Marinette. She previously taught biology at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar as an associate professor for eight years. Dr. Richer is also a member of the consortium formed by the Institute for EthnoMedicine, made up of 50 scientists operating in 28 institutions across 10 countries. The Institute is a non-profit research organization dedicated to discovering new cures for neurodegenerative diseases from studies of indigenous peoples.

For Media Inquires:
Hanan Lakkis – Media Relations Manager
Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar
Education City, Qatar Foundation
PO Box 24144
T: +974 4492 8661




Discovering Qatar New Publication


Many of our members may remember Fran
Gillespie who served on the QNHG steering group for many years and published a
number of books on Qatar and Arabia which she used to sell at our monthly
meetings and at charity bazaars.


After 30 years in Qatar Fran and her husband
David left Qatar last year and retired to the UK, but Fran continues to publish,
and in June this year the new and updated edition of her best-selling book Discovering
came out. It contains 192 pages with hundreds of new colour photographs,
six entirely new chapters on fauna and flora in addition to updated information
in the original chapters, and also the latest updates on the exciting new
archaeological discoveries being made within the peninsula. The new edition,
published by Medina Publishing Ltd in London, retails at QR 140.00 for the soft
cover and QR 160.00 for the hard cover.
available from branches of WH Smith and Carrefour, the I-Spy bookshop in City
Center Mall, the Crown Plaza souvenir shop and Family Bookshop. If you have any
problems in tracking down a copy please contact the distributors, Family


The original edition of Discovering Qatar
sold a record 12,000 copies in 8 years and was highly popular as a Christmas or
birthday gift, an introduction to the country for those about to take up
residence in Qatar, a souvenir for people leaving, and most of all a source of
information for those living in Qatar who want to know more about its history,
archaeology and the country’s varied and rich flora and fauna.
  Fran regrets that she’s no longer in Doha  to sign copies for purchasers, but hopes the
new edition will prove even more useful than the original one.



UCL Qatar: Ecological explorations around Qatar 

- a presentation held at Katara Art Center, on Wednesday 19 November, 06:00 pm, by Dr. Aspasia Chatziefthimiou





Turtle Hatching Season 

Turtle hatching season is happening now. Often you can head up  up to Fuwairit during sunset to watch them hatch. Northern Qatar is a nesting ground for the Hawksbill and other turtles. You can read more about this event from the following articles. The Ministry of Environment has a hatching center a place where the nests are located and where you can see the turtles hatch. Here is the best information for you to access to learn about seeing them hatch. 

Change the World for Turtles in Qatar

All You Need  to Know About Visiting the Turtles in Qatar

Turtle Hatching Season Begins: Join the Turtle Hatching Group

Tracking Turtles in Qatar

Great Videos to Watch

Hawksbill Sea Turtles
Announcement via Entalek



Have you seen this little lizard, a Garden Skink aka Ocellated Skink, formerly common in gardens and parks in Qatar? He has not been seen for a while and scientists would like to know if there are any recent sightings.

Please keep an eye open for this little creature and if you see him,  Dileep Kumar would be delighted to hear from you. Please email him at

dkumar@moe.gov.qa or dileepvp@gmail.com

QF Radio Interview
Interview with Fran Gillespie about wildlife in Qatar and talk about birds and the importance of waste water lagoons to migratory species and other natural history subjects related to Qatar, such as the large mammal species.  
1. Click on 27 November and download
2. It takes a few minutes to download, then play the file. Move the cursor button about half way along to pick up the interview.


Hajj: The Journey Through Art

9 October 2013 - 5 January 2014

At the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar