Qatar, Middle East - Wontra Travels

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Welcome to Qatar

Qatar

Capital: Doha

Continent: Asia

Currency: Riyal (QAR)

Dialling Code: +974

Driving Side: Right

Language: Arabic

Population: 2,545,603 (2016)

Religion: Islam

Time Zone: AST (UTC+3)

Once a British protectorate, the State of Qatar has been an independent sovereign state since 1971 and is one of the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Comprising an 11,500 sq. km peninsula extending northwards into the Arabian Gulf, it is regarded as one of the richest countries in the world (based on per capita income) and the booming oil and natural gas sector is the country’s major revenue source.

The country’s population stands at 2.3 million and its capital city is Doha. More than half of the population of the country live in and around here. Most of the attractions, malls, skyscrapers and manmade beaches are located in the capital, which is believed to be modelled after Dubai. Other cities in the country include - Doha, Al-Khor, Rayyan and Wakra.

The dominant religion in Qatar is Islam and the official language is Arabic.  Amidst claims of irregularities and controversies, the country is billed to host the biggest event in Football calendar – the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

Information & Facts

Attraction Overview

Corniche

Jog along the magnificent crescent-mooned corniche to fully appreciate the spectacular skyline of the West Bay area; go early morning or at sunset to avoid the heat and join the locals.

Doha Fort

Before you dive into Souq Waqif, take a look at Doha Fort; built in the 19th century by the occupying Turks, it has been used as a prison and a stamp museum among other things

Souq Waqif

Try your bartering skills on the vendors in Souq Waqif; with a nose for a bargain you can find antique plates from China, prayer beads of amber, leather-tipped camel sticks and aromatic chests of cardamom from India. Or simply settle in for coffee and shisha and watch the world go by.

The Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

I M Pei’s beautifully designed gallery, right on the Corniche in the heart of the city has become one of Doha’s most iconic sights. Inside the space is light and airy, and the collection of Arabic art, calligraphy and ceramics is breathtaking. The outdoor terrace is a great place for evening drink, with fabulous views of West Bay.

Business

The work week is from Sunday to Thursday, with most offices closed on Friday and Saturday. Government offices working hours are from 07:00 to 14:00.

Climate

Qatar has a desert climate with year-round sunshine, hot summers and mild winters. Mean monthly temperatures range from 17°C in January to 36°C in July, sometimes reaching highs of 40°C+ during the summer. Rain is infrequent, falling in brief showers mainly in winter.

Communications

The country code for Qatar is +974. Telecom providers Ooredoo and Vodafone offer pre-paid and post-paid mobile services.

Wi-fi broadband hotspots are available across the country and are easily accessible at hotels and public parks.

Duty Free

The following goods may be imported into Qatar without incurring custom duty:

  • Tobacco allowance: 400 cigarettes.
  •  Personal items and gifts, up to a maximum value of QAR 3, 000.

The imports of alcohol, narcotics, drugs, indecent magazines, weapons and ammunitions, and radioactive equipments are prohibited.

Electricity

240 volts AC, 50Hz. British-style plugs with three square pins are used.

Getting Around

Plane

There are no internal flights in Qatar. The Hamad International Airport is the only international airport in Qatar.

Taxis

Most visitors rely on taxis to get around town. Karwa taxis are widely available and reasonably priced; their meters start at QR4 and run at QR1.20 per km. ordering a taxi in advance attracts an extra charge of QAR 4. Most hotels will hail a taxi for you, and may have their own limousine service, especially for airport transfers. Fares rates in the mornings and nights are different.

Car hire

There are many local and international car hire firms operating in Qatar, including several with branches at the airport. Hirers require a credit card, passport copy and a valid driving licence from their home country or international permit. Longer-term leases are possible.

Limousine hire

Chauffeured limousine hire is ideal for seamless travel between appointments. Cars can be hired by the hour or on a daily basis. Hotels and car hire firms can make the necessary arrangements.

Buses

Although not widely used by tourists, there is a good service throughout most of Doha and across the country. Buses are modern, clean and air-conditioned. Fares within the city are around QR3 to QR9 depending on the distance, and fares outside town are reasonable priced. The West Bay Shuttle serves a route that takes in a number of destinations that may be of interest to visitors.

Language

The official language is Arabic. English is widely spoken and understood. A wide range of other languages are spoken within the hospitality industry.

Money

Qatar has a history of using the Indian Rupees (Gulf Rupees), briefly the Saudi Riyal and the Dubai and Qatar riyal. The official legal tender in Qatar is the Qatari Riyal (QAR) - 1 Qatari Riyal equals 100 dirham. The denominations in Coins are 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 dirhams while the Banknotes are in 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 riyals.

The exchange rate is pegged at US $1 = QR3.64 and there are no foreign exchange controls. ATMs can be found in many locations and most shops and restaurants accept major credit cards.

Passport Visa

Qatar welcomes nationals from all around the world. To enter the country, passports must have one blank page and be valid for at least six months. For the most up-to-date information on visas relating to all nationalities, please refer to the Qatar Ministry of Interior’s website by visiting: www.moi.gov.qa/site/english/departments/PassportDept/sections/sec748/748.html

Safety

Qatar is a generally safe country and the rate of crime is low. It is advisable for single women to avoid walking by themselves in less crowded areas late at night. In cases of emergencies, Dial 999 to alert the police, ambulance or fire departments.

Time

The local time is GMT/UCT + 3 hours and there are no daylight savings adjustments.

Tipping

In Qatar, most restaurants include a service charge with the bill. However, the people providing the service usually don’t receive it. Therefore, it’s appreciated to tip about 10-15% in restaurants. Tipping in a hotel in Qatar follows almost the same rule as the rest of the world but if dining in hotels, it is not necessary to tip, but it’s a nice gesture.

Tipping a taxi driver is recommended; a minimum of 5-10 Riyals tip is highly appreciated.

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