Qatari nationals often opt to wear the traditional clothing of the Gulf region. 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 and a shirt in public. Close-toed shoes are expected in most establishments. Women’s attire in public should fall below the knee, and cover the shoulders and chest. Western bathing attire is typically permitted at hotel and club swimming pools and beaches.
Shaking hands is the standard form of greeting for non-Arabs, particularly in a business setting. Muslim men and women often opt 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. Please note that you should always use your right hand for drinking, eating and shaking hands as the left hand is regarded as unclean. Similarly, you should avoid showing the soles of your shoes or feet.
Arabic is the official language of Qatar. English is widely spoken and understood, although some official documents are in Arabic. Road signs and menus are typically in both Arabic and English.
The Qatari Riyal (QR) is the local currency. Coins are rarely used and most transactions are rounded up or down. The QR has been pegged to the USD at $1=QR3.64 since 2001. ATMs and currency exchanges are plentiful.
Working hours for ministries and governmental institutions are from 7.00am-2.00pm, Sunday to Thursday. Most international companies and the private sector operate from 8.00am-5.00pm, Sunday to Thursday. Many private businesses are also open on Saturdays. Everything is closed on Friday as it is a day for prayer. Please note operating hours during the holy month of Ramadan are greatly reduced. Public holidays include National Sports Day (second Tuesday of February), Qatar National Day (December 18th), Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha (dates and length for both Eid holidays vary).
UK-style, three-pin plugs at 220/240 V at 50 HZ are standard. US and European plugs can also be used but require an adaptor.
Foreign visitors can get emergency treatment for a nominal fee through Hamad Medical Corporation. Private hospitals and clinics also provide a variety of services to visitors.
Public taxis are easily accessible upon arrival at Hamad International Airport. Qatar has both a public bus and taxi system called Karwa. Cars are the country’s primary mode of transport, and private cars are available at hotels, while taxis are available through both Karwa and Uber, the taxi app which recently launched in Qatar.
There are numerous rental car companies in Qatar, most with outlets at Hamad International Airport. Visitors can drive for one week with approved licences from some countries. Temporary driving licences are also available for three months through the Ministry of Interior’s traffic department. Further details are available on the department’s website.
Visa requirements vary according to nationality. For 33 designated counties, one-month visitor visas are available upon arrival. Visitors can expect to pay in the region of QR100 ($27.44) for a visa, although costs vary by nationality. Visas must be purchased with a credit or debit card upon arrival at immigration. Visitor visas can be extended by one month at designated immigration offices. Visas can also be arranged via hotels for nationalities that are not subject to visas on arrival. Policies and regulations are subject to change, so it is advisable to check with your embassy, hotel or airline beforehand.
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