Already well-known as a business travel destination, Doha – capital of the State of Qatar – has emerged in recent years as a rapidly developing leisure tourism destination as well.
A dynamic modern country built on the deep cultural roots of its Bedouin heritage, Qatar presents the visitor with a kaleidoscope of fascinating contrasts and experiences - from the tranquillity of the desert to the lively alleys of the souq, impressive coastal fortresses to dramatic high-rise towers, deserted sandy beaches and mangrove lagoons to elegant residential districts, green parks and luxury hotels.
Qatar has a desert climate with year-round sunshine, hot summers and mild winters.
Qatari Riyal (QR or QAR) 1 = US$3.64. ATMs can be found in shopping malls, hotels, the airport, petrol stations and other locations around the urban areas. Most shops, hotels and restaurants accept major credit cards.
220/240 volts AC 50Hz. Socket type is square three-pin 13 amp (as used in the UK).
Police, Fire, Ambulance: 999.
Most visitors rely on taxis to get around. They are available at taxi ranks and can be hailed in the street, as well as booked by phone 24/7. (Karwa Taxis +974 4588 8888, Al Million Taxis +974 8005 5000.)
The minimum fare for airport taxis starts at QR 25, and the charge per km QR 1.20. For regular taxis the minimum fare is QR 10 (up to 5.5 km), then QR1.20 per km thereafter.
There are also many local and international car hire firms operating in Qatar, including several with branches at the airport. Hirers will require a credit card, passport copy and a valid driving licence from their home country.
Tourist information: www.qatartourism.gov.qa
Upcoming events: www.onqatar.qa
Qatar Tourism Authority, P.O. Box 24624, Doha, Qatar; Tel +974 4499 7499; Tourism Call Centre +974 4444 4106.
The official language is Arabic. English is widely spoken and understood.
There are no major health risks and no special inoculations required by visitors. There are many well-stocked pharmacies, with English speaking staff, throughout Doha city, including some open 24 hours.
Qatar has been an independent sovereign state since 1971. It comprises an 11,500 sq. km peninsula extending northwards into the Arabian Gulf and has 563 km of uninterrupted coastline. The country’s population stands at 2.3 million and its capital city is Doha.
Working week is Sun -Thurs (government offices 07.00 – 14.00; banks 07.30 – 13.00; businesses 07.30 -18.00). Shops open 10.00 – 22.00 six days, and 13.30 – 22.00 on Fri.
Qatar is an Islamic country and Islam plays an integral role in the life of its citizens. Other religions are respected and Doha has many places of worship from Hindu temples to Christian churches.
Qatar benefits from one of the lowest crime rates in the world. It is a safe destination with religious and political stability where the cosmopolitan community lives in peace and harmony.
Women visitors, whether travelling alone or in a group, experience no special restrictions of dress or behaviour in day-to-day life in Qatar. Women play a full and active part in the life of the country and foreign women visitors can be assured they will be readily accepted and welcomed.
Alcohol is only available at bars and restaurants associated with hotels and private clubs. Imports of alcohol are not permitted.
The attitude to dress in Qatar is quite relaxed, but visitors (men as well as women) should show respect for local culture and customs in public places by avoiding excessively revealing clothing.
The country code for Qatar is +974. Telecom providers Ooredoo and Vodafone offer pre-paid and post-paid mobile services. Wi-fi broadband hotspots are available across the country and are easily accessible at hotels and public places.
Qatar local time is GMT/UCT + 3 hours.
Qatar welcomes travellers from all over the world. For up-to-date information on visas, please visit the Ministry of Interior’s website: http://bit.ly/1Mke0K7.
Doha is a clean, attractive city, home to more than half of the nation’s population, as well as the majority of Qatar’s hotels, shopping malls, museums, sporting facilities and other tourist attractions.
The city presents a modern face to the world, but with many traditional and historic features as well. There is plenty of evidence of Qatar’s rapid economic growth in the number of major projects under construction.
The centre of the city backs the waterfront Corniche, which extends around the length of the semi-circular Doha Bay.
Central Business District
Al Bidda/Souq District
Museum of Islamic Art
Katara Cultural Village
City Highlights Tours
Khor Al Adaid (Inland Sea)
Off the Beaten Track
Qatar offers a remarkable variety of culinary options. Many restaurants offer an authentic taste of Arabia and the Middle East with cuisine from throughout the region including North Africa, Lebanon, Egypt and Iran. But all the major cuisines of the world are also well represented, from French and Italian to Chinese, Japanese and Indian, as well as others too numerous to mention. Likewise, options range from formal fine dining to relaxed fast food outlets and coffee shops.
Many top restaurants are to be found in Qatar’s hotels, The Pearl-Qatar, Souq Waqif and Katara Cultural Village, amongst numerous other culinary corners of the city. The following selection represents just a small sample of Doha’s outstanding restaurant options.
Al Sultan Brahim (Lebanese)
Spice Market (SE Asian)
Three Sixty (Fine Dining, revolving restaurant)
Saffron Lounge by Vineet (Indian)
Gordon Ramsay (Fine Dining)
Opal by Gordon Ramsay (Fine Dining)
The Anvil Rooms (Steaks)
The Village (Mediterranean)
Shater Abbas (Iranian/Middle Eastern)
Burj Al Hamam (Lebanese)
Khan Farouk Tarab Café (Egyptian)
Al Adhamiyah (Iraqi)
Al Bandar (Syrian)
Café culture is alive and well in Doha. One of the most popular leisure pastimes among Qataris and expatriate residents alike is to spend a relaxing hour or two over coffee and maybe a pastry with friends, discussing the issues of the day and putting the world to rights. Why don’t you join them? Here is a small selection of some of the city’s fine range of cafes.
Torch Tea Garden
Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar NY doha
Red Velvet Cupcakery
Chapati & Karak
Doha is a shopper’s paradise offering the visitor an array of experiences and options, from the comfort and elegance of spacious modern shopping malls to the more typically Middle Eastern experience and ambience to be found in the souqs.
Why not try both? The malls are ideal for picking out fashion items and international brands at competitive prices. The souqs are perfect for finding regional souvenirs and gift items, while enjoying a taste of Qatari street life.
Souq Al Aseiry
Najima Second-Hand Market
The Pearl Man
Al Asmakh Mall (Centrepoint)
City Center Doha
The Gate Mall