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Travel Info


Quick Facts
CapitalDoha
Governmenttraditional monarchy
CurrencyQatari riyal (QAR)
Areatotal: 11,437 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 11,437 sq km
Population793,341 (July 2002 est.)
LanguageArabic (official), English commonly used as a second language
ReligionMuslim 95%

Cities

Doha - capital

Understand

Qatar is home to al-Jazeera (the Peninsula) television and is rapidly entering the modern world, including the staging of the 2006 Asian Games.

Get in

By plane

When going by plane to Qatar, you will most probably enter the country at Doha's airport. Local carrier Qatar Airways is building a growing worldwide network with flights from there. 2 week visas are available for members of most western nations (America, Canada, Britain, etc.) at the airport. For longer stays, visas must be arranged by having a sponsor. Unmarried women under the age of 35 will have a hard time in procuring a visa for a lengthy stay, as the country seems to fear that they will practice prostitution.

By train

You cannot travel to Qatar by train!

By car

The only land route to Qatar is from/through Saudi Arabia, night travel by car is not recommended.

By bus

You can travel to Qatar by bus from/through Saudi Arabia, there are no fixed bus routes, most busses are old and not very comfortable. NOT RECOMMENDED.

By boat

There are no specific boat routes, but there are commercial freight boats coming into Doha from all over the world, as well as small commercial boats coming in from Dubai and Iran.

Get around

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Talk

Arabic is the official language, particularly the Gulf dialect. English is the most common second language. As Qatar has thousands of guest workers from India, Pakistan, The Philippines, Thailand and various other countries, a word or two of any languages spoken in these areas can be helpful. However, with such a mixed international population, English is the defacto language allowing the Qataris to communicate with the people who generally handle all of the menial jobs in their country, so it is widely spoken. If you can learn a few words of Arabic, your hosts and any other locals you may meet, will be very impressed.

Buy

Blue Salon has huge sales twice a year where you can pick up Armani, Valentino and Cerutti suits for half price. There are many things to buy here but be wary of cheap pearls as they may not be real. There are many good tailors in Qatar and it is a good place to have clothes made to measure and copied.

Eat

Qatar has seemingly endless options for food, much of it excellent. If you would like European cuisine in a fancy setting, visit a hotel like the Ramada or the Marriott, both of which also offer excellent sushi and the choice of having drinks with your meal (the only restaurants in town that can do this are in the major hotels), but at a steep price. Authentic and delicious Indian food is found throughout the city, ranging from family oriented places to very basic eateries catering to the Indian workers. You may attract some curious stares in the worker eateries, but the management will almost always be extremely welcoming, and the food is very inexpensive. For excellent and truly authentic Thai cuisine, try either Thai Twin (near the Doha Petrol Station and the computer souqs) or Thai Snacks (on Marqab St.), and be sure to sample the delicious spicy papaya salad at either location, but be careful, if you ask them to make it spicy, expect for it to burn. Middle Eastern cuisine is everywhere as well, and in many forms- kebabs, breads, hummus, the list goes on. It can be purchased on the cheap from a take-out (many of which look quite unimpressive, but serve awesome food) or from a fancier place, like the wonderful Layali (near Chili's in the 'Cholesterol Corner' area) that serves gourmet Lebanese food and has hookahs with flavored tobacco. Don't be afraid to venture into the Souqs looking for a meal; it will be a unique experience in an authentic setting, and although some of the places you see may look rundown, that's just the area in general, and the food will be probably be quite good. If you are in a funny kind of mood, you can try a McArabia- McDonald's Middle Eastern sandwich available only in the region.

Drink

There is one liquor store, Qatar Distribution Centre, in Doha. To purchase things there, you must have a license that can only be obtained by having a written letter of permission from your employer. You can only get a license when you have obtained your residency permit and you will need to get a letter from your employer confirming your salary in addition to paying a deposit for QR1000. The selection is good and is like any alcohol selection of a large supermarket in the West. Prices are reasonalble although not cheap. Alcoholic beverages are available in the restaurants and bars of the major hotels, although they are pricey. As far as non-alcoholic drinks go, be sure and hit some of the Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants and juice stalls. They whip some tasty and exotic fruit juice combinations that really hit the spot.

Sleep

Hotel prices are on the rise in Qatar. The Merweb Hotel is situated in the business district on Al-Sadd Road. Although it is considered to be a three-star hotel, it is newer and makes a pleasant place to stay. Even though it is a "three-star" hotel, it is pretty pricey.

The Oasis is run-down, but reliable, if a bit out of the way and home to smarmy types.

There are scores of new five-star hotels on the rise, such as the Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, and Intercontinental. There are also the newly-renovated Ramada and Marriott hotels.

Learn

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Work

The work day starts quite early in Qatar. Do not be surprised at 7am meetings!

Stay safe

Doha is a very safe city. The threat of terrorism is ever-looming, as it is in most of the Middle East, but it doesn't seem to really effect the way people live for the most part, as it seems most Qataris are genuinely interested in keeping their country safe instead of letting it slide into mayhem and chaos to further political aims. Petty crime and the like are virtually unheard of. Women will probably experience harassment that is more than annoying than threatening; having a man circle around the block whilst you walk down the street, or whisper at you in the store is a common occurrence, sadly enough. Based on ideas picked up from American movies and TV, the men seem to have developed some strange ideas as to the behavior of western women. An abeya, the long, black cloak and headscarf worn by local women, can be purchased at a variety of places in Doha and can be convenient at times. Women are by no means required to wear them (although modest dress is requested and appropriate- no short skirts or shorts, nothing to revealing or tight) but they can be handy at times; wear one, and blend in instantly. The harassing behaviors will cease immediately.

Stay healthy

Drink lots of bottled water! No matter how much you drink, you should drink more.

Keep a proper sunblock with you, too.

Respect

Respect the Islamic beliefs of Qataris and Bedouins: Women shouldn't wear tube tops, hot pants, and the like unless they want to reinforce negative stereotypes they have about the west (and attract undesired company). Men shouldn't wear the traditional clothing, thobes, unless it's for a special occasion; otherwise, it's plain weird.

If you're dining with a Qatari, don't expose the bottoms of your feet to him. Don't eat with your left hand either, since Islamic tradition considers it is used solely for bathroom functions. You oughtn't attempt to shake with your left hand or hand a package with your left hand.

If your Qatari friend insists on buying you something - a meal or a gift - let him! Qataris are extremely hospitable, and typically there are no strings attached.

Contact

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External links

Ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-1800s, Qatar transformed itself from a poor British protectorate noted mainly for pearling into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Qatari economy was crippled by a continuous siphoning off of petroleum revenues by the amir who had ruled the country since 1972. He was overthrown by his son, the current Amir HAMAD bin Khalifa Al Thani, in a bloodless coup in 1995. In 2001, Qatar resolved its longstanding border disputes with both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Oil and natural gas revenues enable Qatar to have a per capita income not far below the leading industrial countries of Western Europe.

Geography

Location 
Middle East, peninsula bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
Geographic coordinates 
25 30 N, 51 15 E
Map references 
Middle East
Area 
total: 11,437 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 11,437 sq km
Area - comparative 
slightly smaller than Connecticut
Land boundaries 
total: 60 km
border countries: Saudi Arabia 60 km
Coastline 
563 km
Maritime claims 
contiguous zone: 24 NM
exclusive economic zone: as determined by bilateral agreements or the median line
territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate 
arid; mild, pleasant winters; very hot, humid summers
Terrain 
mostly flat and barren desert covered with loose sand and gravel
Elevation extremes 
lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Qurayn Abu al Bawl 103 m
Natural resources 
petroleum, natural gas, fish
Land use 
arable land: 1.27%
permanent crops: 0.27%
other: 98.46% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land 
130 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards 
haze, dust storms, sandstorms common
Environment - current issues 
limited natural fresh water resources are increasing dependence on large-scale desalination facilities
Environment - international agreements 
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - note 
strategic location in central Persian Gulf near major petroleum deposits

People

Population 
793,341 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure 
0-14 years: 25.2% (male 102,110; female 98,053)
15-64 years: 72.1% (male 403,508; female 168,428)
65 years and over: 2.7% (male 15,299; female 5,943) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate 
3.02% (2002 est.)
Birth rate 
15.78 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate 
4.34 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate 
18.75 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio 
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 2.4 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 2.57 male(s)/female
total population: 1.91 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate 
20.73 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth 
total population: 72.88 years
female: 75.48 years (2002 est.)
male: 70.4 years
Total fertility rate 
3.1 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 
0.09% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 
NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths 
NA
Nationality 
noun: Qatari(s)
adjective: Qatari
Ethnic groups 
Arab 40%, Pakistani 18%, Indian 18%, Iranian 10%, other 14%
Religions 
Muslim 95%
Languages 
Arabic (official), English commonly used as a second language
Literacy 
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79%
male: 79%
female: 80% (1995 est.)

Government

Country name 
conventional long form: State of Qatar
conventional short form: Qatar
local short form: Qatar
note: closest approximation of the native pronunciation falls between cutter and gutter, but not like guitar
local long form: Dawlat Qatar
Government type 
traditional monarchy
Capital 
Doha
Administrative divisions 
9 municipalities (baladiyat, singular - baladiyah); Ad Dawhah, Al Ghuwayriyah, Al Jumayliyah, Al Khawr, Al Wakrah, Ar Rayyan, Jarayan al Batinah, Madinat ash Shamal, Umm Salal
Independence 
3 September 1971 (from UK)
National holiday 
Independence Day, 3 September (1971)
Constitution 
provisional constitution enacted 19 April 1972; in July 1999 Amir HAMAD issued a decree forming a committee to draft a permanent constitution
Legal system 
discretionary system of law controlled by the amir, although civil codes are being implemented; Islamic law dominates family and personal matters
Suffrage 
suffrage is limited to municipal elections
Executive branch 
chief of state: Amir HAMAD bin Khalifa Al Thani (since 27 June 1995 when, as crown prince, he ousted his father, Amir KHALIFA bin Hamad Al Thani, in a bloodless coup); Crown Prince JASSIM bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, third son of the monarch (selected crown prince by the monarch 22 October 1996); note - Amir HAMAD also holds the positions of minister of defense and commander-in-chief of the armed forces
head of government: Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Khalifa Al Thani, brother of the monarch (since 30 October 1996); Deputy Prime Minister MUHAMMAD bin Khalifa Al Thani, brother of the monarch (since 20 January 1998)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the monarch
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary
note: in March 1999, Qatar held nationwide elections for a 29-member Central Municipal Council, which has consultative powers aimed at improving the provision of municipal services
Legislative branch 
unicameral Advisory Council or Majlis al-Shura (35 seats; members appointed)
note: the constitution calls for elections for part of this consultative body, but no elections have been held since 1970, when there were partial elections to the body; Council members have had their terms extended every four years since
Judicial branch 
Court of Appeal
Political parties and leaders 
none
Political pressure groups and leaders 
none
International organization participation 
ABEDA, AFESD, AL, AMF, CCC, ESCWA, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDB, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO
Diplomatic representation in the US 
chief of mission: Ambassador Badr Umar al-DAFA
telephone: [1] (202) 274-1600
consulate(s) general: Houston
FAX: [1] (202) 237-0061
chancery: 4200 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016
Diplomatic representation from the US 
chief of mission: Ambassador Maureen E. QUINN
embassy: Al-Luqtas District, 22 February Road, Doha
mailing address: P. O. Box 2399, Doha
telephone: [974] 488 4101
FAX: [974] 488 4298
Flag description 
maroon with a broad white serrated band (nine white points) on the hoist side

Economy

Economy - overview 
Oil accounts for more than 30% of GDP, roughly 80% of export earnings, and 58% of government revenues. Proved oil reserves of 3.7 billion barrels should ensure continued output at current levels for 23 years. Oil has given Qatar a per capita GDP comparable to that of the leading West European industrial countries. Qatar's proved reserves of natural gas exceed 7 trillion cubic meters, more than 5% of the world total, third largest in the world. Production and export of natural gas are becoming increasingly important. Long-term goals feature the development of offshore natural gas reserves. In 2000, Qatar posted its highest ever trade surplus of $7 billion, due mainly to high oil prices and increased natural gas exports, and managed to maintain the surplus in 2001.
GDP 
purchasing power parity - $16.3 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate 
5.6% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita 
purchasing power parity - $21,200 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector 
agriculture: 1%
industry: 49%
services: 50% (1996 est.)
Population below poverty line 
NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share 
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 
2% (2001)
Labor force 
280,122 (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate 
2.7% (2001)
Budget 
revenues: $5 billion
expenditures: $4.8 billion, including capital expenditures of $900 million (FY01/02 est. )
Industries 
crude oil production and refining, fertilizers, petrochemicals, steel reinforcing bars, cement
Industrial production growth rate 
NA%
Electricity - production 
9.2 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source 
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption 
8.556 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports 
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports 
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products 
fruits, vegetables; poultry, dairy products, beef; fish
Exports 
$11 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities 
petroleum products 80%, fertilizers, steel
Exports - partners 
Japan 43%, Singapore 8%, South Korea 6%, US 4%, UAE 2% (1999)
Imports 
$3.5 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities 
machinery and transport equipment, food, chemicals
Imports - partners 
UK 10%, Japan 8%, Germany 6%, Italy 6%, US 6% (1998)
Debt - external 
$13.1 billion (2000 est.)
Economic aid - recipient 
$NA
Currency 
Qatari rial (QAR)
Currency code 
QAR
Exchange rates 
Qatari rials per US dollar - 3.6400 (fixed rate)
Fiscal year 
1 April - 31 March

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use 
142,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular 
43,476 (1997)
Telephone system 
general assessment: modern system centered in Doha
domestic: NA
international: tropospheric scatter to Bahrain; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia and UAE; submarine cable to Bahrain and UAE; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) and 1 Arabsat
Radio broadcast stations 
AM 6, FM 5, shortwave 1 (1998)
Radios 
256,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations 
1 (plus three repeaters) (2001)
Televisions 
230,000 (1997)
Internet country code 
.qa
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) 
1 (2000)
Internet users 
75,000 (2001)

Transportation

Railways 
0 km
Highways 
total: 1,230 km
paved: 1,107 km
unpaved: 123 km (1996)
Waterways 
none
Pipelines 
crude oil 235 km; natural gas 400 km
Ports and harbors 
Doha, Halul Island, Umm Sa'id (Musay'id)
Merchant marine 
total: 25 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 679,081 GRT/1,051,088 DWT
ships by type: cargo 10, combination ore/oil 2, container 7, petroleum tanker 6
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Kuwait 1, United Arab Emirates 3 (2002 est.)
Airports 
4 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways 
total: 2
over 3,047 m: 2 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways 
total: 2
under 914 m: 1 (2002)
914 to 1,523 m: 1
Heliports 
1 (2002)

Military

Military branches 
Army, Navy, Air Force
Military manpower - military age 
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability 
males age 15-49: 316,885
note: includes non-nationals (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service 
males age 15-49: 166,214 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually 
males: 6,797 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure 
$723 million (FY00/01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP 
10% (FY00/01)
Military MAX Salaries - Not more than $760 per month per employee

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international 
none