Qatari nationals often choose 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. Women’s public attire 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. Close-toed shoes are expected in most establishments.
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.
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 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 (the second Tuesday of February), Qatar National Day (December 18th), Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha (dates and length of both Eid holidays vary each year).
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.
The Qatari riyal, denoted QR, is the local currency. Coins are rarely used and most transactions are rounded up or down. The QR has been pegged to the dollar at $1=QR3.64 since 2001. Currency exchanges and ATMs that accept major credit cards are widely available in major cities.
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 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 that speak English.
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 taxi apps Uber and Careem. 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 certain 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.
In August 2017 Qatar’s Ministry of Interior, the Qatar Tourism Authority and Qatar Airways announced that citizens from 80 countries can now enter Qatar without a visa, making it the most open country in the region. Citizens of the 80 countries are no longer required to apply for a visa, instead they will be granted a multi-entrance waiver upon arrival. Depending on the nationality of the person in question, this waiver will be valid for 180 days, and will allow the holder to spend a total of 90 days in the country during that timeframe. Other visitors will be given a waiver valid for 30 days, with the ability to apply for a 30-day extension.
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