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Monday, April 23, 2012

Qatar Fast Facts

Qatar is located on a peninsula jutting out from Eastern Saudi Arabia.
The country is one of the wealthiest in the world (due to oil reserves mainly) and boasts a great infrastructure, low crime rate, good weather in the spring and winter, and a great hospitable culture.
Overall, Qatar is a great place to visit, though it is generally not open to those on a limited budget.
The main city is Doha, a small but highly contemporary city with great restaurants, hotels, and other amenities.
There are several islands near Qatar that are interesting to take trips to for the day or camp overnight on.
There are great small cities and towns all over the country that need to be explored. Desert camping and 4x4 is also very common and enjoyable.

Weather & Climate
The weather in Qatar is unbearably hot during the summer months, and amazingly pleasant from about October to March. Most people escape the cold weather back home to visit during these times and find 80 degree F weather daily without a cloud in the sky.
There is very little rain throughout the year.

Religion plays a prominent role in Qatari life and society. Most Qataris are of the Wahabi sect of Islam. The call to prayer is heard five times a day throughout the country and during Ramadan most businesses are closed during the day.
Qatar is somewhat of a liberal country, compared to others in the region, and clothing styles of Westerners usually aren't a problem.

Arabic is the official language though most everyone speaks some amount of English.

Dress conservatively, no shorts for men or women and no revealing clothing.

Visit visas are issued on arrival to passport holders from the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. These visas cost a small fee.
Israeli stamps in your passport will result in the denial of your entrance to the country.

Driving is fairly safe throughout the country. Roads are in great conditions.
Qatari drivers tend to tailgate and flash their lights, this means move over, but it isn't a threatening gesture like it would be in the US.
In the desert or off-roading make sure and carry plenty of supplies and use only a 4 wheel drive. Never rev your wheels if you are stuck in the sand as this will dig you deeper and deeper until you strike oil.

Drugs & Alcohol
Alcohol is available in bars in hotels only. Bar entrances are usually monitored to prevent unwanted guests.
There is a liquor store only for guest workers in the country with proper documentation.
Illegal drug use is dealt with very harshly and should be avoided at all costs.

Qatar's currency is the Rial.
One Rial is about .27 cents US and has been for some time. It is one of the strongest currencies in the world.
ATMS and banks are all over the place in Qatar and you won't have a problem paying with most credit cards. In the souqs you may need to bring a little cash, and don't forget to haggle!

There are no vaccinations required to enter Qatar.

There are really very little annoyances in Qatar besides the heat in the summer, which many people enjoy.