Country guides Middle East
The electrical current is 240 volts, 50Hz. Round pin plugs with grounding as well as rectangular blade plugs are in use.
Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken.
The official currency is the Qatari Riyal (QAR), which divides into 100 dirhams. Money can be exchanged at banks, the airport and exchange dealers. Banks are generally open Saturday to Thursday 7:30am to 1pm, and ATMs are widespread. All major credit cards are widely accepted.
A service charge of 10 percent is usually added to hotel and restaurant bills in Qatar, in which case tipping is not necessary, although for exceptional service many people add a bit extra. If there is no service charge, a 10 to 15 percent tip is appreciated. Taxi drivers do not expect a tip but it is polite to round up the fare.
No vaccinations are required for entry to Qatar, but it is recommended that visitors be up to date with routine vaccinations like MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and tetanus-diphtheria. Vaccinations are also recommended for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Modern medical care and medicine is available in the big cities and medical care is usually of a high standard in Doha. As treatment is expensive, it is advisable for travellers to hold comprehensive medical insurance.
Safety in Qatar is generally not an issue but the country, like most in the Gulf Region, is rated as being under high threat of indiscriminate terrorist attacks against western interests. Visitors should therefore be vigilant in public places. There is a low incidence of crime, but women are advised to take care when travelling alone at night.
Qatar is an Islamic state, which prohibits drinking alcohol in public other than at licensed hotel restaurants and bars. Religious customs should be respected, particularly during the month of Ramadan when eating, drinking, and smoking in public are forbidden by Muslim Law. Intimacy between men and women in public can lead to arrest and homosexuality is illegal.
Visitors should dress modestly and respect local customs. Women should cover their shoulders and avoid wearing shorts or short skirts. The right hand should be used for everything, including eating and the giving and receiving of things, as the left is considered unclean. The import of pornographic material, non-Islamic religious material, alcohol, or pork products is strictly prohibited.
Since a large portion of Qatar's population is comprised of foreign nationals, foreigners might find themselves dealing exclusively with other expats in a corporate milieu that they are familiar with. However, the following advice pertains to Arabic business culture to help prepare westerners for that eventuality. It is important to bear in mind that Qatar is an Islamic country and that visitors should always remain sensitive and respectful of the large influence that these religious beliefs have on ordinary social life.
The business culture of Qatar can be described as 'typically Arabic', in that a great emphasis is placed on personal relationships between business associates: Qatari businessmen prefer to do business with people they are familiar with and who they feel they can trust.
For this reason, foreigners will probably be required to engage the services of a local agent (or sponsor) in Qatar, who'll be able to provide them with important introductions and recommendations. The start of a professional relationship will often be dedicated to getting to know each other and business itself may be slow to start. Foreigners shouldn't get impatient: long-term, personal business relationships in Qatar are certainly worth the investment of their time and energy.
The management style that predominates in Qatar is strictly hierarchical. Decisions are made at the top level and clear, direct instructions are given to staff who are expected to follow them to the letter. Note that it is unusual to hear the word 'no' outright in Qatar. A more polite, indirect method of refusal is usually preferred.
Business etiquette in Qatar reflects the close relationship between personal and professional life, despite the hierarchical structures. Foreigners should use Arabic titles where appropriate, such as Haji and Sheikh, to indicate their respect for their associates. They should make sure that, when discussing business, they can deliver everything they promise, as verbal commitments are treated as solemnly as written contracts in Qatar.
Business meetings in Qatar will most likely be lengthy, and subject to numerous personal digressions, and perhaps even unexpected visitors. It is important to remain patient, even if the meeting's agenda is abandoned - foreigners should not resort to hard-sell tactics, as this may well be interpreted as aggression.
Visiting business people should not publicly criticise or undermine any associates. If they feel the need to say something, it's best to do so in private. It is common to exchange business cards when meeting new associates for the first time. Foreigners must make sure their details are printed in Arabic on the reverse side of their card and always spend a little time regarding someone else's card before putting it away.
Business dress is smart, formal, and conservative, especially for women who must take care not to wear anything too revealing. The official language of Qatar is Arabic, though English is widely spoken and widely understood in the business world.
Business hours are generally 7.30am (or 8am) to about 6pm. Friday is a day of rest and most companies will also give either Thursday or Saturday off - international companies tend to favour closure on Saturday.
Travellers to Qatar do not have to pay duty on 400 cigarettes and personal gifts and items up to the value of 3000 QAR. Alcohol may not be imported under any circumstances. Travellers are also prohibited from importing pork-related products and pornographic or sexually explicit material.
The international access code for Qatar is +974. Hotels and cafes offering free wifi are widely available. As international roaming costs can be high, purchasing a local prepaid SIM card can be a cheaper option.
Passport & Visa
Visitors should have tickets and documents for return or onward travel and sufficient funds to cover their stay. If on a tourist visa, visitors should have proof of confirmed hotel reservation and sufficient funds or a credit card. If holding a visa for Oman, an additional visa for Qatar is not required (however, travellers are not allowed to depart to a third country). The government of Qatar does not accept temporary passports. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months' validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
United States citizens with a passport valid for six months beyond date of arrival. No visa required for a maximum stay of 30 days. Can apply to extend stay another 30 days.
Passports must be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the arrival date. British citizens do not require a visa for a maximum of 30 days. They can apply to extend their stay another 30 days. Holders of British passports with any other endorsements are advised to check on entry requirements for Qatar.
Canadian citizens must have passports valid for a minimum of three months beyond date of arrival. Nationals of Canada do not require a visa for a maximum of 30 days. They can apply to extend their stay another 30 days.
Passports must be valid for a minimum of six months from the arrival date. Australians citizens do not require a visa for stays up to 30 days. They can apply to extend their stay for another 30 days.
Passports must be valid for a minimum of six months from date of arrival. South Africans citizens do not require a visa for stays up to 30 days. They can apply to extend their stay for another 30 days.
Irish citizens must have a passport valid for six months from the arrival date. Nationals of Ireland do not require a visa for a maximim of 30 days. They can apply to extend their stay for another 30 days.
Passports must be valid for a minimum of six months from the arrival date. New Zealanders do not require a visa for stays up to 30 days. They can apply to extend their stay for another 30 days.
Qatar National Tourism Council: www.visitqatar.qa/Emergencies: 999.
Embassies / consulates in other countries
Embassy of Qatar, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 274 1600.
Embassy of Qatar, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 (0)20 7493 2200.
Embassy of Qatar, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 241 4917.
Embassy of Qatar, Canberra, Australia: +61 26152 8888.
Embassy of Qatar, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 452 1700.
Embassy of Qatar, Tokyo, Japan (responsible for New Zealand): +81 (3) 5475 0611.
Embassies / consulates in Qatar
United States Embassy, Doha: +974 4496 6000.
British Embassy, Doha: +974 4496 2000.
Canadian Embassy, Doha, Qatar: +974 4419 9000.
Australian Embassy in Doha, Qatar: +974 4007 8500
South African Embassy, Doha: +974 4485 7111.
Irish Embassy, Abu Dhabi (also responisible for Qatar): +971 (0)2 495 8200.
New Zealand Embassy, Abu Dhabi (also responsible for Qatar): +971 2 441 1222.