Qatar: Essential Information
Basic Information Of Use To Anyone Considering Coming To Qatar
Clothing should be modest, but the required level of modesty is often exaggerated. Covering heads is definitely not required; low cut dresses are probably pushing it a bit too far. A more conservative attire may be required at work.
Cars drive on the right in Qatar. Visitors can drive for one week using driving licences from their country. Hire cars are easily available. Be careful when driving - See our articles on driving in Qatar.
The electrical system is the same as in Britain, with the same kind of plugs (240 volts, plugs with three square pins). American devices cannot be used in Qatar (although laptop computers, shavers and other devices designed for travel usually adjust their voltage automatically).
The emergency number is 999 for all services.
Food and Restaurants
There is a huge variety of restaurants with cuisine from all over the world. All the main international fast food restaurants are present. Vegetarians are well catered for in Indian restaurants, although their choices may be limited in other restaurants.
It is easy to find an internet cafe and they are cheap to use. Generally speaking, the internet is censored for pornography, but not for politics although sometimes it does seem to be a bit random.
English is almost universally used in Qatar. Indeed, as most shop assistants and taxi drivers are not Arab and cannot speak Arabic, the locals need to use English.
The local currency is the Qatari riyal (QR) which is currently fixed to the dollar at a rate of $1= QR3.64. This is theoretically divided into 100 dirhams, although in practice only 25 and 50 dirham coins are available. There is sometimes a shortage of these coins, so expect to be given change in the form of chocolate or chewing gum.
There are no currency controls, and money can be freely taken in or out of the country.
There is a comprehensive and (fairly) reliable network of cash machines (ATMs), and they are connected to international networks. They are free to use, although your bank may charge.
Major credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted.
Public transport is extremely limited in Doha, though having said that things are starting to get better with the recent introduction of the bus service. Most people avoid walking and use taxis, limos or cars to get around. See our section on transport for more information.
Generally, Qatar is very safe (apart from the driving) and has a very low crime rate. Having said that, crime does seem to be on the rise. Qatar suffered one terrorist attack, in 2005, in which the director of the Doha Players was killed.
Shops are frequently open from early in the morning until late in the evening, although many of those outside the shopping malls close in the afternoon. Most shops are closed on Friday mornings.
The international dialling code is +974. There is only one phone company and calls to and from Qatar are very expensive. It may be very expensive to use a foreign mobile phone here. Check with your operator. It is possible to get a pay-as-you-go phone here relatively cheaply, and you only need your passport to get one. You will find more information at Qtel.
Television and Radio
There are two local television stations: QTV1 in Arabic and one in QTV2 in English. On the radio, QBS broadcasts in English and French on 1233AM / 102.6FM. Satellite TV is easily available.
Qatar is three hours ahead of GMT. The time is the same throughout the year. See our time differences page to compare the time in Qatar with other countries.
Tips are not necessary - but are very much appreciated in taxis and restaurants.
It can hit 50ºC in Qatar in the summer, and it can also be extremely humid. The weather is much more pleasant during the spring and autumn, and a light jacket will be necessary during the winter.
The weekends are Friday and Saturday. On Friday morning all the shops are closed except for a few in the large shopping malls. Saturday shop opening hours are as normal.
Working hours are approximately 8am-12pm, and then 4pm-8pm, although government departments frequently work only in the mornings. Workers should not be required to work more than 8 hours a day without being paid over time, although this doesn't always happen in practice.