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Welcome to Qatar

A guide to middle east arab countries

Introduction

Qatar, officially the State of Qatar, or Dawlat Al-Qatar, in Arabic, is an independent Arab emirate in Southwest Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula [4415 square miles] on the north-easterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula.

The capital of Qatar is Doha, located half way down the east coast of Qatar and is a burgeoning modern city, especially around the smart Doha Corniche area. Majority of the country is covered by sand dunes and salt flats. The City of Doha is a rich mixture of traditional Arabic combined with modern architecture. Among those that are particularly interesting, are The Grand Mosque with numerous domes and the Abu Bakir al-Siddiq Mosque.

Al-Khor is the second largest city located along the natural shallow harbour. The west coast consists of fine beaches at Umm Bab (The Palm Tree Beach), Salwah, Dukhan near the Saudi border.

Doha, Qatar

Doha, Qatar

Qatar Doha

Qatar Doha

Museum of Islamic Art

Museum of Islamic Art

Villaggio - Qatar's Most Stylish Shopping Mall

Villaggio - Qatar's Most Stylish Shopping Mall

Fast Facts

Full Name: State of Qatar

Capital City: Doha

Population: The population of Qatar is 824,789 This figure includes a large number of migrant laborers from neighboring states.

Location: Qatar is a peninsula running north into the Persian / Arabian Gulf. Qatar is bounded in the south by the United Arab Emirates. The territory includes a number of islands in the coastal waters of the peninsula, the most important of which is Halul, the storage and export terminal for the offshore oilfields.

Currency: Qatari Riyal (QR)

Language: Arabic is the official language, but English is also widely acknowledged.

Religion: The population is almost entirely Muslim. Most native Qataris belong to the Islamic Wahhabi sect.

Time Zone: GMT/UTC +3

Country dialing code: 00 974

Tipping: Tips are not necessary - but are very much appreciated in taxis and restaurants.

Etiquette and Customs: A tourist visiting Qatar, should be completely aware of the Muslim customs, religious laws. Women are expected to dress modestly. It should be noted that while it is acceptable to sit cross legged, showing the sole of the foot, or pointing it at a person would be considered as an insult here. In business and social gatherings, one gets to sip the traditional Qatari coffee, served in tiny cups without handles, which is a welcome ritual for guests, and is served in order of seniority. Two cups are polite, however it is suggested not to limit to one or exceed three cups.

Work hours:: Government offices: 7 am to 2 pm. Private establishments: 8 am to 12 noon, and 4 pm to 8 pm. Friday and Saturday are the weekend holidays.

Electricity: Voltage is 240 AC at 50 cycles [As for electrical sockets, British Style Plug with one grounding blade and two flat blades are used. Even Indian/South African style plugs with two circular metal pins above a large circular grounding pin can be used.]

Geography: Qatar is an oil rich peninsular protruding into the Gulf between the UAE and Bahrain. There are hills located along the northwest, though the rest of the country comprises salt flats, sand dunes and scattered vegetation towards north.

Climate: Qatar enjoys sunshine just about everyday of the year. The average temperatures during the summer range from 38°C to 42°C during the day and 18°C at night, while winter temperatures are 34°C during the day and 10°C at night. Swimming in the Arabian Gulf or in the many hotel pools, water sports, desert and city tours, shopping a perfect location for visitors to soak up the sunshine. Once the sun sets, go star-gazing in the clear night sky, enjoy a moonlight stroll along the Corniche, or view the skyline from Doha Bay on a traditional dhow. This clean and pristine environment offers visitors ideal conditions to completely unwind and enjoy their time in Qatar.

Driving: On arrival at Qatar, a tourist or a traveler, can drive in the country if he holds a valid driving license for seven days (including the day of arrival). People intending to remain in Qatar for more than six months will have to apply for a Qatari driving license or a temporary Qatari driving license. In case the visitor is a foreigner, and have already done an accident, he wil be deported back to home country, instead of a fine, as in other countries. Hence, opting for a taxi would be best, rather than risk oneself with driving at a new place.

Taxi: (Karwa) There are two types of taxis: he normal taxi and the airport taxi (Limousine).

Buses: are used for public transport (Karwa).

Al Thughb Fort

Al Thughb Fort

Umm Salal Mohammed

Umm Salal Mohammed

Zubarah Fort

Zubarah Fort

Places to visit

While you visit Qatar, tourists can explore the natural environment of Qatar by taking an exciting desert safari, relaxing at the many beaches and pools or just enjoying their favourite sport, be it bowling alleys, tennis, snookers, billiards, golf courses, or ice skating rinks.

Marroub Fort

Built during the Abbasside period on the foundations of an older fort, Marroub Fort is located on the west coast of Qatar and bears the marks of Abbasside architectural style. To the north of the Fort, 250 houses were grouped together in an arch formation.

Al-Ghuwair Castle

Al-Ghuwair Castle was built during the early 19th century and is now in ruins. It was constructed with thick walls of stone and mud in a rectangular shape.

Al-Thughb Fort

Located on the northwest part of the country, approximately 110 kilometres from Doha, al-Thughb Fort is rectangular with four towers ,a common design for desert forts erected between 17th and 19th centuries.

Al-Zubarah

Situated just 100 km west of Doha lies the town of Al Zubara, an important archeological site famous for its old fort. This fort-turned-museum was constructed in 1938 during the reign of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani and was erected on the ruins of a neighbouring fort.

Al-Rakiyat Fort

Restored in 1988, Al-Rakiyat Fort was constructed sometime during the 17th and 19th centuries. Made of mud and stone, this fort, as with many others in Qatar, is shaped as a rectangle with four corner towers.

Barzan Tower

Originally built as watchtowers, Barzan Tower is the western tower of two that were erected around the Umm Salal Mohammed area. This Tower was built during the late 19th century and its ˜T” shape is considered a unique architectural style in the Gulf region. It is a rectangle construction with three levels and an external staircase.

Umm Salal Mohammed Fort

Located about 20 kilometres north of Doha and built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this Fort is distinguishable by its high thick walls and impressive façade.

Al-Wajbah Fort

With its high towers and thick walls, Al-Wajbah Fort was the site of a famous battle and is considered the oldest fort in the country. In 1893 AD, the people of Qatar, under the leadership of Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammed Al Thani, defeated the Ottoman forces.

Al-Jassasiya

Composed of a number of rocky hills overlooking the northeastern coast of Qatar, the hills of Al-Jassasiya contain numerous stone carvings and engravings which are speculated to date back to pre-historic times. Known for its fine beaches, Al-Jassasiya and its neighbour, Fuwairet, are popular for weekend excursions.

Ishat Island

Located on the southeastern portion of the country, Ishat Island has a total area of about 20 square kilometres. It consists of three flat-topped islets bordered with light coloured cliffs and two detached rocks lying northeast of Khor Al-Udaid.

Shra'o Island

Situated about 48 kilometres northeast of Ishat Island, Shra'o Island rises to 36.5' and has many hummocks. There is also a small fringed reef and a sandy beach used by turtles to lay their eggs. Just three hours away from Doha by speedboat, Shra'o Island serves as a haven to thousands of seabirds.

Haloul Island

This hilly island rises to an elevation of 190 feet and is surrounded by excellent fishing grounds. The seabed is made up of coral reefs with a large variety of magnificent and beautiful coral fish and offers wonderful opportunities for scuba divers to observe marine life.

Al-Saflia Island

Just a 15-minute boat ride from Doha, Al-Saflia Island is considered a tourist resort , even with its tiny size of .8 square kilometres.

Alia Island

To the west and complimenting Al-Saflia Island lies the small land mass of Alia Island , just slightly over 2 square kilometres in size.

Quad Bikes

Quad Bikes

Shopping

Shopping

Things to do

Oryx Farm and Equestrian Club

Visitors can see the Oryx in its natural surroundings at the Oryx Farm located in Shahaniya. The national animal of Qatar, the Oryx isn’t found anywhere else in the world in such large numbers.

The beauty of the Arabian horses is well-known throughout the world. The pure-bred Arab show and race horses at Al Shaqab Stud Farm provide a great opportunity to enjoy these horses close up. Other facilities include the Qatar Race and Equestrian Club, where visitors are welcome to view its stables, and the Rayyan Racing and Equestrian Club, where races and show-jumping events are held.

Cruises and Water Sports

Surrounded by the Arabian Gulf on three sides of the peninsula, there are plenty of opportunities for water sports and cruising. Two artificial reefs have been built for scuba-diving and create a welcoming environment for marine life. A sunset cruise on a traditional dhow in Doha Bay provides a stunning view of Doha at night, while luxury yachts can be rented for half- and full-day fishing trips.

There are both jet-skiing and water-skiing rentals, as well as pedal boats, water cycle, and kayak rentals. And for the extremely adventurous, try parasailing,surfing, or wind-surfing. A day spent on Palm Tree Island is a most welcome opportunity for relaxation with beaches and swimming pools.

Desert Safari

A trip to the inland sea, in the middle of the desert, is a splendid way to spend the day. As you travel over the sand dunes, you will get an unequalled view of the desert and, if you listen closely, you can hear the sands shift as you descend down the slopes. A lunch and swim in the warm inland sea will nicely top off your adventure before you make the journey back to the city.

Be sure to bring swimsuit, sunscreen, and don’t forget your camera.Excursions should be undertaken in an adequately-equipped 4 x 4 vehicle. Always travel in convoy with other cars, take a supply of water, a mobile telephone if you have one,and leave travel plans with friends and relatives.

Shopping

From the large shopping complexes to the tiny stalls of the souqs, eager shoppers will find everything they need and more. Facilities like the City Centre Doha, the largest shopping complex in the Middle East, offer world famous brands plus many exciting family facilities.

The markets (souqs) are a wonderful mixture of scents and sights where items are not marked with traditional price tags; haggling is welcomed and expected. Souq Waqif is the oldest of Doha’s traditional markets, originally used by Bedouin traders as a place to buy and sell meat, wool, milk, and other staples.

Corniche

A stroll along the Corniche is a must during your stay. This seven-kilometre stretch of coastline runs parallel to the warm waters of the Arabian Gulf and is used by walkers and runners, as well as the more adventurous roller-bladers.

Qatar - Doha

Qatar - Doha

Visa Requirements

Tourist Entry Visa

For short stays, 21 days or less, the tourist visa is the best option.

Nationalities who are not eligible for a visa on arrival have the following options:A sponsor based in Doha can apply for a visitor visa for them.Certain hotels facilitate visas. Hotels and tourist operators can arrange for a 2-week tourist visa extendible for another 2 weeks. Two hotels that arrange tourist visas are La Villa Palace Hotel and Al Muntazah Hotel.

Visa on arrival at Doha International are available for the residents of 33 countries: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland. Cost is QR 100.

Business visas

Can be obtained for those traveling to Qatar for business, however, the partner company sponsoring or government establishment, such as the ministry, would have to obtain the required visa. Business visas are typically valid between 14 days and 3 months. Hotels can also arrange business visas, which would be valid for 3 months. The cost is QR 100.

Family Visit Visa

This is an appropriate option for families with expat status that allows you to bring family, siblings or parents. The visa can range for one month or a maximum of 6 months. A medical commission check up is necessary to extend the visa beyond 1 month. Cost is QR 250 and QR 50 per month.

Where to Stay

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Events

This page is under construction.

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