In the small country of Qatar, said to be the richest country in the world, citizens are suffering from one of the most rampant obesity crises of all time. The government has launched a new program for its citizens to find a way to exercise during the summers that normally hit 120 degrees. The program, which encourages shopping and exercising simultaneously, is called, "Step Into Health: Walk More, Walk the Mall." All major malls are participating by opening the halls two hours before and after regular store hours and supplying shoppers with maps of prearranged walking routes along with caloric-burning breakdowns.

The country's officials have built sports facilities and parks, and implemented dozens of public awareness campaigns to educate both adults and school children about eating healthy and exercising, but none of the efforts have stimulated a decrease in obesity. The officials have even hosted fun runs with large cash prizes to incentivize the nation, but all to no avail against the infamously high and dangerous exercise temperatures that keep its citizens indoors and sedentary.

Besides the sweltering heat, cultural traditions have also held Qatar citizens, at least the women, from finding use of the government's gifts of outdoor exercise equipment and automated bicycle rental kioks.

"You're not going to see Qatari ladies riding bikes," said Honey Stinnett, a Qatari woman who exercises by walking at night on the central boardwalk. Referring to the traditional floor-length black abayas that most Qatari women wear with veiled faces, Stinnett said, "Do you think you could exercise in that? It's the culture that Qatari ladies are kept inside, where they are getting fatter and fatter," according to The Atlantic.

According to a promotional brochure handed out to mall patrons, "mall walking is the perfect workout, alongside controlled temperatures; it provides a clean and safe environment to exercise."

Qatar is a sovereign Arab state located in Western Asia and is one of the richest nations in the world, thanks to the exploitation of its large oil and gas fields since the 1940s, which is more than 15 percent of the world's proven gas reserves.

With a population of less than two million citizens, Qatar is nonetheless one of the fastest growing economies in the world with a parallel of increasing health concerns. The Connecticut-sized nation has very high rates of birth defects and genetic disorders, and 17 percent of the native population suffers from diabetes, which can easily be contributed to the fact that roughly half of its adults and a third of its children are obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of U.S. adults and 17 percent of U.S. children are obese, according to body mass index standards.

According to the "Step Into Health" program's website, the goal is for each person to walk 10,000 steps or more each day in a "non-competitive, recreational, and social way."

But according to Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit global leader in medical care, healthy adults should be getting a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobics or 75 minutes of intense aerobics each week. Strength training should also be incorporated at least twice a week, which leads one to wonder how Qatar can achieve these basic health standards with window shopping. Ten-thousand steps is close to five miles, an ambitious goal of the program, considering it would take about an hour-and-a-half to complete, even at a brisk pace. Other drawbacks from mall walking include the exposure to the abundance of food stands such as bakeries, breakfast bars, and coffee shops, lacing the halls with tempting smells.

"Personally, I think they want people to spend more time at the malls so they can spend more money at the malls," said Khalid Yazidy, a 29-year-old government employee, according to the New York Times.

Regardless, the mall-walking kickoff was announced as a big success with roughly 1,000 people showing up to participate, according to the government-controlled press. Pedometers and handouts were given, along with free raffles of iPhones, laptops, and other prizes.

Qatar isn't the only country facing serious health problems. Its neighboring energy-rich countries like Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have also seen an increase in obesity, diabetes, and genetic illnesses in the last 50 years.

Nineteen-year-old, Hassan Tiaz, a citizen of Qatar, told The Atlantic the reason for his country's poor health: "It's because in Qatar, we just sit, smoke, and eat junk food. There's not too much work. Everything you have is automatic, and most of us just sit in air-conditioned offices and cars. Everything is done for us."