Qatar is a sovereign Arab emirate, located in Western Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the north-easterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. A strait in the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby island kingdom of Bahrain.
Qatar is an absolute monarchy that has been ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-19th century. Before the discovery of oil, Qatar was noted mainly for sea trade and pearl hunting. It was a British protectorate until it gained independence in 1971. Most Qataris belong to the strict Wahhabi sect of Islam.
Qatar has the world’s third largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves in excess of 25 billion barrels which has fuelled Qatar to become world’s richest country per capita and achieve the highest human development in the Arab World and 36th highest globally; furthermore, it is recognized as a high-income economy by the World Bank and also the 19th most peaceful country in the world.
Qatar is currently undergoing transformation under the National Vision 2030, in which it expects to achieve an advanced, sustainable, and diversified economy. In order to promote tourism, Qatar has invested billions into improving infrastructure, it held the 2006 Asian Games and will be the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, becoming the first Arab country to host either of the events.
What is the currency in Qatar?
The Qatar Riyal.
Can I use my ATM card?
Yes. ATM machines accept cards from all over the world via systems like Cirrus and Plus.
Can I use credit cards in Qatar?
Credit cards are accepted in most major department stores, restaurants, and in the gold souks (markets). Some outdoor souks may not accept credit cards.
What is the climate like in Qatar?
The climate is characterized by a mild winter and a hot summer. Temperatures range from 7C/45F in January to around 45C/115F (and even hotter) in the summer. It is usually dry, with the prevailing winds coming off the Saudi deserts, but occasionally the winds come off the Gulf, making it extremely humid.
Can I drive in Qatar?
Yes, both men and women can drive in Qatar. However, a Qatar driving license is required to drive after your first week in the country.
Who makes up the expatriate community?
The expatriate community in Qatar is made up of citizens from around the world: Americans, Canadians, Australians, British, German, Irish, Egyptians, Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis, Filipinos, Malaysians, South Africans, etc.
Is there anything to do at night for entertainment?
Doha has many lively after-dark scenes. The nightlife is varied, with many bars and discos open until the small hours. Hotel bars range from sophisticated cocktail lounges to typically informal Western-style bars. Most of them serve food and many feature live bands nightly. Doha is also increasingly attracting top names from the world of entertainment. These include popular singers and entertainers from both West and East. Stage plays from London tour regularly, as do major dance groups from Europe and Asia.
What else should I know about living in Qatar?
Liquor is a very sensitive subject. It is available for purchase by non-Muslim expatriates, under a permit system, for use at home. Hotel bars and certain clubs also sell alcohol to non-Muslims. Drinking in public and being drunk in public prohibited. Also, the reselling of alcohol is illegal.
Gambling is forbidden.
Photography is a sensitive subject. Don’t photograph women, mosques, royal residences or military establishments without permission.
What is the voltage in Qatar?
The voltage in Qatar is 220V.
How easy is it to communicate with home?
Telephone: A good international service is available. Local calls are free, but line rental is approximately QR100/month. You cannot have a fixed line installed until your residence permit is complete.
Mobile phones: The country uses the GSM standard. If you own a GSM phone you can bring it with you and insert a local Q-Tel or Vodafone SIM card. A service using pre-paid cards is also available.
Email: There are several Internet cafes around Doha. It is possible to set up private internet either pre-paid or pay-as-you-go.
Links to Qatar info sites - www.qatar-links.com
Middle East news and information - www.tradearabia.com
Qatar Living - www.qatarliving.com
Gulf Times (English newspaper) - www.gulf-times.com
Qatar Tribune (English newspaper) - www.qatar-tribune.com
The Peninsula (English newspaper) - www.thepeninsulaqatar.com