Located halfway along the western coast of the Arabian Gulf, the 11,437 sq km State of Qatar benefits from its key location, halfway between Europe and Asia.
National Flag: The national flag is maroon separated by a nine-point serrated line leading onto a broad white strip.
Government Offices: 7am to 3pm
Private establishments: 8am to noon, and 4pm to 8pm
Weekends: Friday and Saturday
Local Time: Greenwich Mean Time + 3 hours (GMT +3)
Electrical Current: 240 Volts + 6% with frequency of 50 Hertz
Climate: Most days are sunny and hot in Qatar - rain is a rare occurrence with the average annual precipitation (which falls during winter) around three inches (80mm). Summers are hot and humid with the mercury regularly rising to 104°F (40°C) and beyond. Winter days are slightly cooler, but nights can be fairly cold.
Summer = May – September
Autumn = October – November
Winter = December – January
Spring = February – April
Languages: The official language of the country is Arabic and English as a widely spoken second language. Reflecting the multicultural make-up of the country, many other languages are also spoken, including French, Hindi, Malayalam, Urdu and Tagalog.
Religion: Qatar is an Islamic country, on which daily life and law is based. Christian churches of various denominations also exist in the capital city, Doha.
Currency: Qatar’s currency is the Riyal that is divided into 100 dirhams.
Economy: The Qatari economy has exhibited considerable growth in the last eight years and according to a World Economic Forum 2008-2009 report, the country is now the most competitive Arab economy, ranking 26th worldwide.
Transportation: Qatar’s public transportation has seen a major overhaul, with suave turquoise green taxis called ‘Karwa’. There is now an excellent bus system which also goes to areas outside of the capital, and is widely used by the country’s manual workers.
The road system is being refined and overhauled in response to the increasing population and new highways and expressways within Doha are being completed.
Health: No vaccinations are a requirement for entry to Qatar, but it is recommended that visitors be up-to-date with routine vaccinations. Modern medical care and medicine is available in Doha. Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for medical services, and treatment is expensive; it is advisable for travelers to hold comprehensive medical insurance. Visitors should drink bottled water and avoid under-cooked food and unwashed fruit and vegetables, particularly outside of the hotels and resorts but generally the standards of health are good.
Culture: Qatar is a friendly country that prides itself on its ability to make visitors feel welcome – and with its multicultural atmosphere, it is easier for visitors to settle down quickly. As an Islamic state where religion is still very important to everyday life, there are many mosques to be seen throughout the country.
Dining: Traditional Qatari food is based on the foods consumed by nomadic tribes – generally not more than what they could carry. Machbous, or heavily spiced lamb cooked over rice, is one of the most famous of Qatari dishes. However, as a reflection of all of the cultures living side by side in Qatar, it isn’t hard to find every kind of cuisine possible. As a visitor, try not to miss out on the chance to taste local specialities –including fresh fish and seafood from the seas of the Arabian Gulf.
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