Arabic is the official language of Qatar.
English is widely spoken and understood, although some official documents will be in Arabic. Road signs and menus are typically in both Arabic and English.
Working hours for ministries and governmental institutions are 7.00am-2.00pm, Sunday through Thursday. Most international companies and the private sector operate 8.00am-5.00pm those same days. Many private businesses are also open on Saturdays. All establishments are closed on Friday, the day for prayer. Please note that operating hours during the holy month of Ramadan are greatly reduced.
The local currency is the Qatari riyal. Coins are rarely used and most transactions are rounded up or down. The riyal has been pegged to the dollar at $1: QR3.64 since 2001. Currency exchanges and ATMs that accept major credit cards are widely available.
UK-style, three-pin plugs at 220/240 V and 50 Hz are standard. US and European plugs can also be used, but require an adaptor.
Nationals often wear the traditional clothing of the Gulf. Foreign visitors and residents are expected to dress in a style that is sensitive to local culture, with conservative clothing recommended. Men generally wear long trousers, while women’s bottoms should fall below the knee, and tops should cover the shoulders and chest. Western bathing attire is typically permitted at hotel and club swimming pools and beaches. Closedtoe shoes are expected in most establishments.
Visitors must check their country’s travel advice, in addition to the Travel and Return Policy on the Ministry of Public Health’s website. The page provides information on travel restrictions, entry requirements, and safety and security advice. Foreign visitors can get emergency treatment for a nominal fee through the state-run Hamad Medical Corporation. Private hospitals and clinics also provide a variety of services to visitors. All hospital and clinics in Qatar have physicians who are able to speak English. The emergency number is 999.
Citizens of 80 countries are granted a multi-entrance waiver upon arrival which, depending on the nationality of the individual in question, is valid for 180 days and allows the holder to spend a total of 90 days in the country during that time frame. Other visitors are given an entrance waiver that is valid for 30 days, with the ability to apply for a 30-day extension. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, visa extensions may be subject to vaccination regulations.
Shaking hands is the standard form of greeting for non-Arabs, particularly in a business setting. Muslim men and women often choose not to shake hands with members of the opposite sex, therefore it is better to follow locals’ lead. It is customary to place your hand on your heart to symbolise a hand shake should you recognise the other person does not want to shake hands. Refreshments are commonly offered when meeting and refusal can be considered impolite. Note that you should always use your right hand for drinking, eating and shaking hands, as the left hand is regarded as unclean. In addition, you should avoid showing the soles of your shoes or feet.
Taxis are easily accessible upon arrival at Hamad International Airport. Qatar has a public bus and taxi system called Karwa. Cars are the primary mode of transport and private vehicles are available at hotels, while taxis are available through Karwa and ride-hailing apps Uber and Careem. There are numerous rental car companies. Visitors can drive for one week with approved licences from certain countries. Temporary driving licences are available and valid for three months through the Ministry of Interior’s Traffic Department. It is possible to extend the licence when it expires.
The Doha Metro offers service to and from the airport seven days per week, connecting the facility to major cultural, tourist and business districts throughout Doha. Each metro station is air conditioned and contains Gold Club centres for ticket holders of that class, male and female prayer areas, and restrooms.
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