Official name of the state
State of Qatar.
As a country located in Asia according to timedictionary, Qatar is an oil-rich peninsula in the Persian Gulf between Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates and borders Saudi Arabia in the south. The north-west is hilly, the rest of the country consists of sand, dunes and salt flats with little vegetation in the north. There are numerous coral reefs in front of the bays in the east.
Emirate (absolute monarchy) since 1971. New constitution since 2003. Consultative assembly with 35 members appointed by the emir. There are no political parties. Islam as the state religion. Independent since 1971 (former British protectorate). Qatar is a member of the United Nations.
Head of state
Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, since June 2013.
Head of government
Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifah Al Thani, since June 2013.
240 V, 50 Hz. Mostly three-pin plugs, adapters are recommended.
Arabia Standard Time: CET +4
- Traditional Levantine Shawarma(pieces of meat grilled on a skewer and served in a pitta bread)
- Egyptian Ful(bean dishes) and Taamiyeh (fried balls made from pureed chickpeas)
- Kabsa(a traditional dish made with rice and chicken)
- Harees(porridge made from meat and wheat traditionally eaten during the fasting month of Ramadan)
- Mashboos(gently cooked mutton with seasoned rice)
Some international hotels and top-end restaurants in Doha serve alcohol even if it is officially reserved for hotel guests or “club members”. Drinking alcohol in public outside these facilities is prohibited.
Meze (a selection of salads often served as an appetizer) are an excellent choice for vegetarians and are served in most restaurants.
Hotels and restaurants usually charge a service fee, otherwise 10% is appropriate. Taxi drivers do not expect tips.
Since Qatar is an “alcohol-free country”, there are no alcoholic drink specialties here, but very tasty fresh juices are served in most oriental restaurants. A specialty is a lemon and mint drink made from orange blossom water, fresh mint and lemon juice.
Minimum age for consuming alcoholic beverages
In Qatar, alcohol is allowed in certain restaurants and hotel bars from the age of 21.
In Qatar there are numerous new top hotels and some 3 or 4 star hotels offering cheaper accommodation. Advance booking is recommended. A 15% service is added to all room rates. Further information is available from the Qatar National Hotels Company (see addresses).
Islam is the state religion (95%) (predominantly Sunnis (92%)); Christians, Hindus and Baha’i minorities.
Social rules of conduct
General: Visitors should know about the Islamic religious laws and behave accordingly. At the time of prayer (five times a day) all other activities come to a halt. During the fasting month of Ramadan, non-Muslims should also avoid eating, drinking or smoking in public during the day.
Etiquette: Qataris are very hospitable. You should always behave modestly and respectfully towards other people, including the service staff. Shouting is frowned upon even in a dispute. Anyone who sits with crossed legs may neither show the soles of their feet nor point their feet at another person, as this is taken as an insult. The left hand should never be used to present or receive anything. When invited, it is considered polite to drink two small cups of coffee or tea, always holding the cup in your right hand. Men should avoid interacting with or observing unrelated Qatari women.
Clothing: Well-groomed, casual clothing is acceptable on the street, but knees and shoulders should be covered. Women should dress cautiously, and deep necklines should be avoided. Arab women will only be seen wearing long sleeves in public.
Taking photos: It is illegal by law to take photos of military facilities. Completely veiled women should not be photographed.
Smoking: In Doha, smoking is prohibited in public, enclosed spaces and in public places. Smoking is generally permitted everywhere in the rest of the country, but smoking in public is not welcome. Marked non-smoking areas should be observed. There are very few women who smoke.
Tip: A service fee of around 17% is usually included in the bill. If this is not the case, a tip of 10% is customary. Taxi drivers usually receive 5-10 riyals. Other service providers such as hairdressers, housekeeping staff, doormen, staff in the wellness center etc. also expect a small tip.
Best travel time
Partly hot and humid tropical climate. Summer (June – September) is very hot with little rainfall. Winter is cooler, sometimes it rains. Spring and autumn are warm and comfortable. The best travel time starts in October and ends in April.
Area code +974 Area (square km) 11586 Population 2291368 Population density (per square km) 197 Population in 2016 Member of the EU No main emergency number 999