Qatar is a small desert peninsula that juts out from the larger Arabian Peninsula, and is surrounded on three sides by the Arabian Gulf. Once a center for pearls, is now known for its oil and gas production. At first glance, the Qatari desert peninsula appears to be just another desert. But look a little closer and you begin to notice that nothing in Qatar is exactly the same. Thousands of acres of untamed desert landscapes, wild shorelines, islands and mangroves surprise and amaze. It is arguably one of the Arabian Peninsula's greatest secret and untold stories. The majestic Arabian oryx, symbol of Qatar, becomes our guide and cinematic touchstone. We will follow the oryx from courtship battles to parenting, while moving between the desert and the Gulf exploring the richly diverse and changing habitats. From iconic desert survivors, to reintroduced species, to newly discovered species, we will interweave Qatar's long, rich past with the profound beauty and survival challenges that come with the extreme heat. We will reveal the stunningly beautiful and the bizarre forms of plant life, where some species cannot decide if they are gymnosperms or angiosperms, some that segregate males from females, and where some water plants can survive in the desert. As our cameras dive into the warm waters of the Gulf, we investigate natural and manmade coral reefs, and witness the behavior of some of the most misunderstood creatures: the whale shark that forgoes deep, cool waters to feast on fresh tuna eggs; illusive dugongs–the second largest population in the world–that graze on the thick seagrass meadows; and the Qatari hawksbill turtle that is smaller in size than other hawksbill populations. On Qatar's small islands, often likened to the Maldives, massive flocks of cormorants arrive in the thousands to breed. From sky to land to water, the stories of adaptation and survival unfold; the Arabian oryx and the Rueppell's fox; the green turtle, desert hare, and Arabian horned viper; eagles, falcons, and flamingoes; whale sharks, dugongs, and cormorants; the sand gazelle, Ethiopian hedgehog, jerboa, kingfisher, ostrich, dolphins, bull sharks, and monitor lizard, along with a host of other amazing creatures that call these desert landscapes, shorelines, mangroves and islands home. As climate change continues to impact Qatar, these stories are a cinematic testament to movement, survival and wonder. Humans may soon no longer be able to tolerate Qatar's heat, but nature has a way of surviving.
Produced by SKYLAND Productions for ORF, ARTE, NDR and WDR in association with ORF Enterprise
1 x 52 Min. / Available: 2022