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. Close-toe 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. 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.
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.
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 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.
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 who speak English.
Public 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, most with outlets at Hamad International Airport. Visitors can drive for one week with approved licences from certain countries. Temporary driving licences are available for three months through the Ministry of Interior’s General Directorate of Traffic.
The Doha Metro offers service to and from the airport seven days per week, connecting the facility to major cultural, tourist and business districts in 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. Live service updates, information on train schedules and opening times are displayed on monitors in all stations.
In August 2017 the Ministry of Interior, the Qatar Tourism Authority and flag carrier Qatar Airways announced that citizens from 80 countries can enter Qatar without a visa, making it the most open nation in the region. Citizens of the 80 countries are granted a multi-entrance waiver upon arrival which, depending on the nationality of the person 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.
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