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Discovering Qatar evolved from a series of features on the archaeology, natural history and traditional life of Qatar that Frances Gillespie began publishing in a national newspaper in the late 1990s. There was little available on these subjects for the general reader, and many people, especially those involved in education, asked for them to be compiled into a book. The author had no idea at that time what the demand would be, and hoped that, perhaps, a few hundred copies might find a market.
Two reprints and 12,000 copies later, the time has come for a thoroughly updated edition of Discovering Qatar, with new and improved illustrations, and including the latest information on such fascinating topics as the whale sharks which congregate in large numbers in an off-shore oil field, the presence of which had not been noted by scientists when Discovering Qatar was first published in 2006. Research into Qatar's past by teams of archaeologists has made huge progress in the last decade, culminating in the old pearling and trading settlement of Zubara being inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2013.
During the 30 years Frances Gillespie lived in Qatar, the country made a gigantic leap forward in development, with a modern capital to rival any in the region. As a freelance journalist and writer she has the freedom to concentrate on subjects that interest her. Discovering Qatar reflects this, and the author and publisher hope that readers will share her enthusiasm and enjoy learning more about the 'real' Qatar.
Frances Gillespie, lived in Qatar for thirty years teaching English to Qatari students, working as a freelance writer and learning about the natural history and archaeology of the country.
As a committee member of the Qatar Natural History Group she has spent many years leading excursions up and down the peninsula helping others, especially newcomers, appreciate the many places of interest. In 1999-2000 she coordinated the Qatar Archaeology Project, a joint Qatari-British initiative, and began working with other writers on books about Qatar. A regular contributor to one of Qatar’s daily English newspapers for twenty years, since 2006 she has published more than a dozen books on Qatar and Arabia, in both English and Arabic editions. These include the Qatar Nature Explorer series of six books for young children on flora and fauna, a website linked introduction for younger readers to Qatar’s archaeology entitled Hidden in the Sands: Uncovering Qatar’s Past, and, most recently, Jewels from the Sea, a history of pearl fishing in the Arabian Gulf.