Qatar (official name: State of Qatar) is a small rich country that located in Arabian Peninsula. Covers an area of 11,437 Sq Km (4,416 Sq Mi) with more than 1.7 million inhabitants (as of 2011), Qatar is a country richly endowed with natural gas and oil reserves –ranked no. 3 in the world, behind Russian and Iran. In 2008, Qatar became one of country with fairly high welfare population, and make it ranked no. 2 in the world, ahead of European countries and United States with GDP per capita at US$ 103,500.
These days, Qatar is being intensively promote the country as a world tourist destination by its Persian heritages along with the modernity of infrastructures.
AIRLINES FLYING TO QATAR
International Airlines: Air Arabia, Air France, Biman Bangladesh Airline, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Egyp Air, Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways (United Arab Emirates), Gulf Air (Bahrain), Jet Airways (Indian), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Lufthansa Airlines, Oman Air, Pakistan International Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines, Sudan Airways, Turkish Airlines.
There is no airport tax to be paid since it is already included in passenger’s ticket fare.
BANKING AND MONETARY MATTERS
As a modern country with many business activities, Qatar also has a number of national and international banks and money changers that could be easily found throughout many cities, especially in Doha. Some of the national banks are Qatar National Bank, Doha Bank, and so on, while international banks are HSBC, Standard Chartered, etc.
Most of them accept travelers’ cheques and may apply some commission charges, which will be different from one bank to another. As a reference, HSBC does not charge any commission (free of charge) for travellers' cheques issued by HSBC Group offices and take commission charges of around QR 3 per cheque (min QR 50) for account holders and QR 5 per leaf (min QR 50) for non-account holders. Proof of identity, such as identity card or passport is required. Money changers also apply similar policy to these banks.
Similar to the other countries in the Middle East, banks in Qatar generally also open from 7:30am to 12pm (Sunday-Wednesday) and from 7am to 11:30am on Thursday. Most banks closed on Friday, though a few of them open on Saturday mornings. Money changers usually open from 8am to 12pm then 4pm to 8pm (weekdays) and some of them also open on Friday, from 4pm to 8pm.
As for ATMs, you can find them virtually in many public places throughout the town, such as in hotels, supermarkets, shopping malls, and so on. Local banks do not charge transaction fees for withdrawals from other national banks, but may do so for withdrawal made by cards issued by overseas banks.
The currency of the State of Qatar is Qatar Riyal (QR) and it is divided into 100 dirhams. Approximate exchange rate for US$1 is 3.64 QR, £1 for 5.75 QR, €1 buys 5.01 QR, AU$1 for 3.71 QR, S$1 buys 2.87 QR, and ¥1 for 0.57 QR. More and last-minute-updated exchange rates can be obtained from these following links: Qatar National Bank, Doha Bank, and so on.
Located in the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar has a year-round sunshine, with temperatures ranging from 25°C (74°F) to over 40°C (104°F) in summer and around 15°C (59°F) to 20°C (68°F) in winter. The hottest months in summer are from (June) July to August –though summer in Qatar is less humid than the other countries in the Gulf. (It can be still very humid to people coming from high latitudes in the northern or southern hemisphere). While the pleasant months in Qatar are from October to March when the rain also sometimes comes. Click here for current and forecast weather in Doha.
COUNTRY DIALING CODE AND TIME
+974 + Local number. Timing for Qatar is GMT (UTC) +3 hours.
As a Muslims country, Qatar has a rigid and strict set of rules for some matters, such as alcohol, pork, and porn things. Do not ever thinks to bring any of these items when you visit and travel to Qatar, though you still can find alcoholic beverages in some hotels (except during Ramadhan/fasting month). The other prohibited items are weapons and ammunition, narcotics, wireless transmitters and communication equipment, ivory, and so on. There are also dutiable or restricted items, such as computer equipments and new furnitures.
Unlike the other countries, e.g. Cambodia, Qatari government allows travelers to bring pets, but under specified conditions and procedures. Travelers are able to import/export a certain amount of goods with free of commission, such as for 400 cigarettes and personal items and gifts, with a maximum value of QR 3,000.
Electricity is 220-240 V, 50 Hz. Primary socket types used are British standard plugs. Sometimes it will be easier to bring your own adapter if your country has a different electric plug type.
FOREIGN EMBASSIES AND CONSULATES
Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Nedherlands, Philippine, Poland, Russian Federation, Singapore, South Korean, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, the UK, USA, Vietnam.
Public internet access can be easily found in internet cafes in Doha downtown, as well as in some public places (free wireless internet hotspots), such as coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, and even in city parks, like Rumaila Park, Sheraton Park and Dahl Al Hamam Park. Although it’s free, these park offer connection speeds of 8 MB per second. Furthermore, internet cafes usually charge around QR 15 per hour or US$ 4. In 2010, internet users in Qatar were 1,213,567 –according to World Bank Report 2011.
Amiri Diwan, Supreme Council of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Energy and Industry,Ministry of Business and Trade, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Qatar Tourism Authority, Ministry of Interior.
LOCAL ENGLISH NEWSPAPERS/MAGAZINES
There are a few English newspapers in Qatar: Gulf Times, Qatar Tribune, The Peninsula, etc. Mostly they cost around QR 2 and are published every day except for Friday. While foreign newspapers (American, British, Asian) are also can be found too but usually it arrives in Qatar one day after the publication date.
PUBLIC HOLIDAYS (2015)
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In Qatar, Islam is the most widely embraced religion, with about 95% followers, while the rests are Christian and others. Islam has become as basic rules and references for their daily life –though it can be considered to be more moderate and tolerant than the other Muslims countries in the Middle East.
Citizens from the following countries can obtain a simply 30-day entry visa at Doha International Airport (Visa on Arrival). It cost about QR 100 or around US$ 26.7, both for bussiness and tourist visas: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA, the Vatican City.
Visas also can be obtained online at the Ministry of Interior’s website: www.moi.gov.qa or directly go to the nearest Qatar embassy.