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Qatar

About Qatar

Geography

  • Qatar is a peninsula of 11,521 sq km located halfway down the west coast of the Arabian Golf.
  • Capital City – Doha.
  • The territory encompasses several islands including Halul, Sheraouh, Al Beshairiya, Al Safliya (which is a marine protected area) and Al Aaliya.
  • The coastline covers 563km with shallow coastal waters in most areas and many covers and inlets.
  • The terrain is flat and rocky, covered with sand flats and sand dunes. There are some exceptional low-rising limestone outcrops in the north and northwest.
  • The country is centrally placed among the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which groups it with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman.

Climate

  • The country has a moderate desert climate with very hot summers and mild winters. Winter nights can be cool, but temperatures rarely drops below 7˚ Celcius.
  • Humidity levels can be extremely high on the coast during summer months.
  • Rainfall is scarce (average 70mm per year), falling on isolated days mainly between October – March.

Language and Religion

  • The official language of the country is Arabic, but English is widely spoken and understood.
  • All official documents (such as visa and resident permit applications) must be completed in Arabic.
  • Islam is the official religion of the country, and Shari’a (Islamic Law) is the principal source of legislation.

Currency

The official currency is the Qatari Riyal (QR), which is divided into 100 Dirhams. The exchange parity has been stet at the fixed rate of US$1 = QR3.64.

Economy:

  • Qatar, with proven gas reserves of over 900 trillion standard cubic feet in its North Field, and oil reserves of over 15,2 billion barrels, has one of the fastest growing economies and highest per capita income in the world.
  • In just decades, Qatar has developed into a major global supplier of energy and is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and a world leader in gas-to-liquids (GTL) production. In December 2010, the North Field Development Project celebrated meeting its production target of 77 million tons of LNG.
  • While developing its huge hydrocarbon reserves, Qatar has also diversified its economy, and emphasis is being placed on private-sector industrial development, education, health, sport and tourism.
  • Investment laws allow for up to 100% foreign investment in many sectors including: agriculture, industry, leisure, tourism, health, education and the exploitation of natural resources, energy or mining – subject to dispensation from the Ministry of Business and Trade.

Demography:

  • Figures released by the Qatar Statistics Authority in April 2011 put Qatar’s population at almost 1.7 million, of which approximately 24% are female.
  • Almost 50% of the population resides in the city of Doha, which is the business and administration capital.

Transport and Communication:

  • The country is served by Doha International Airport.
  • Metered taxis and limousines are easy to find and there is a comprehensive public transport system.
  • Qatar has a modern road system linking it with other GCC countries. A "Friendship Bridge" linking Qatar to Bahrain is under negotiation.
  • An integrated rail and metro network is in operation.
  • A good telecommunication system is in place, with plans to upgrade to an entirely fibre-optic network.

Common Courtesies on Qatar:

Please dress modestly when out in public:

  • As a show of respect towards the culture and tradition of Qatar, visitors and expatriates (both men and women) should dress conservatively. Avoid exposing the knees, shoulders, cleavage and stomach.
  • Likewise, avoid tight, revealing clothing. Although there are many people who show disregard for the dress code, it is in your best interest to avoid any unwelcome attention. Be particularly modest during the holy month of Ramadan. Normal swimwear (including bikini’s) is acceptable on the beach or by the pool, but cover up when you move away from these areas. Topless bathing is prohibited. Public display of affection between men and women are discouraged and behaviour that is considered immoral could result in prosecution.

There are many photographic opportunities in Qatar, but exercise discretion when photographing local residents, even from a distance. It is wise to ask their permission first. Muslim ladies are very modest, so if you are a man, kindly approach another man when asking for direction of advice.

There are stiff fines for consuming alcohol other than on licensed premises or at home (you must have a liquor permit to buy alcohol for use at home). Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offence, and could lead to prosecution if a traffic officer even smells alcohol on your breath and you have been involved in a car accident. Alcohol is never sold of served during the monthof Ramadan. The country applies a Zero tolerance attitude to drugs.

Time

Qatar local time is three hours ahead of GMT, also knows as Universal Coordinated Time. It is fixed across the country and there is no summer time saving.

Hours of Business:

The working week in Qatar is from Sunday to Thursday, with Friday (the holy day of Muslims) and usually Saturday being days off. Government ministries working hours are form 7am – 2pm, Sunday to Thursday.

Shop times vary but generally from 8:30 – 12:30 and 4pm – 9pm, although shopping malls tend to be open all day between the hours of 9am to 11pm. Some shops do not open at all on a Friday, while others open for a couple of hours in the morning and reopen in the late afternoon. Most malls now open on Fridays at 1:30pm, with shopping centres opening at 4pm.