For Half the Population in Qatar, a Smartphone Is a Luxury

For Half the Population in Qatar, a Smartphone Is a Luxury

By Barbara Bryant, social media manager

They remember better times.  Austerity measures taken by Middle East oil-dependent economies are destroying dreams. “The people have less money than before,” reports Prince Khalid bin Farhan al-Saud, a member of the Saudi Royals, in today’s New York Times.

According to the Middle East Institute, Qatar cut spending to cope with low oil prices. There the average household spends one-third of its income on housing, leaving little surplus income for luxury items.  Utility rates are higher. Hundreds of jobs are gone. If salaries fail to keep pace with the country’s growing cost of living, many people will need to cut spending even more.

For half the population in Qatar, a smartphone is a luxury.  Instead, feature phones, or dumb phones, are especially valued. Dumb phones are economical workhorses.  Qatarian people have a simplified means of communicating with friends, family and businesses. They have everything they need to stay in touch, with less. 

A Qatarian traveler recently found Text Engine for his feature phone. Now he has the richness of the entire web by text messaging when he’s not home in Qatar. It’s one more way to reduce costs. For budget travelers, it’s a dream come true.