Alcohol is available in hotel and club restaurants and bars. However, restaurants outside the hotels are not permitted to serve alcoholic beverages.
The working week in Qatar is generally from Sunday to Thursday, with Friday and Saturday being off. However, few businesses are closed on Friday, with just half-a-day on Thursday.
The government offices work between 6am and 2pm, while commercial offices work in two shifts - the first from 7.30am to 12noon, and next from 3.30am to 7.30pm, although this may vary. A change in timings is likely during the holy month of Ramadan, particularly in government offices, with lesser work hours. Change in working hours is also likely in few commercial offices also. Banks are open from 7.30am to 1pm, although few branches, particularly those located in shopping centers open in the evenings.
Major shopping malls open from 10am to 10pm, while majority of them close on Friday mornings. The timings for independent shops vary, but are generally from 8am to 12.30pm, and then from 4pm to 9pm. Several shops are closed on Fridays. During Ramadan, the commercial shops shut down during breaking of the fast, just after sunset, and open late in the evening. Embassies and consulates are generally open from 9:00am - 12:00pm and are closed on Fridays and in most cases on Saturdays, but usually leave an emergency number on their answering machines.
Lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year, but sweaters or jackets may be needed for the winter months, especially in the evenings.
Compared with certain parts of the Middle East, Qatar has a very relaxed dress code. However, care should be taken not to give offence by wearing clothing which may be considered revealing.
At the pool or on the beaches, trunks, swim-suits and bikinis are quite acceptable.
Good quality sunglasses are advised, and photo- chromatic lenses for those who wear spectacles. Hats or some protection for the head are advisable when in direct sunlight.
Normal tourist photography is acceptable but it is considered offensive to photograph Local Women. It is also courteous to ask permission before photographing men. In general, photographs of government buildings or military installations should not be taken.
In Ramadan, never eat, drink or smoke in public during daylight hours.
Do not take photographs of military installations or national women.
Never drink alcohol in public.
The monetary unit is the Qatari Riyal (QAR) which is divided into 100 dirhams. The Qatari Riyal is linked to the Special Drawing Right of the International Monetary Fund. It has been held constant against the US dollar since the end of 1980 at a mid-rate of approximately US$1= QAR3.64.
Language & Religion
The official language is Arabic but English is widely spoken and understood. Both languages are commonly used in business and commerce.
Islam is the official religion of the State of Qatar and there are a large number of mosques throughout the city.
Other religions are respected and have Christian churches.
The State of Qatar is three hours ahead of GMT.
American Express, Diners Club, Visa, MasterCard, etc... are generally accepted in the main hotels and larger shops but some retailers offer better bargains for cash.
Sub-tropical, arid climate: Sunny, blue skies can be expected most of the year. Rainfall is infrequent and irregular, falling mainly in winter.
Summer (June to September) is hot with daily maximum temperatures of 40oC. Winter is cooler with occasional rainfall. Spring and autumn are warm, mostly dry and pleasant, with maximum temperatures between 25oC and 35oC and cooler night Temperatures between 15 and 22oC.
For the Tourist Visits on Friday, it is preferable to be done in the afternoon after the prayer time for the places of interests to be open; otherwise, it will be only panoramic tours in the morning time.
Electricity, Water and Telecommunication
- Electrical outlets in the State of Qatar usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need.
- Tap water is quite safe to drink but visitors usually prefer bottled mineral water and this is generally served in hotels and restaurants.
- Qatar is an important connecting link in the world telecommunications network: Telephone (Land Line & Mobile), Internet, Radio and Television.
- The International Country Calling Code is +974, followed by an area code.
Facilities for Disabled Travelers
An increasing number of public areas now have access and facilities for people with disabilities. Several of the city's leading hotels also have specially adapted rooms and facilities for the handicapped.
Holidays, Festivals and Important Dates in Qatar
Qatar holidays are, mostly, Islamic holidays. Islamic holidays do not have a set date as they follow a lunar calendar. Often, the exact day of a holiday will not be announced until the night before: Eid Al Fitr, Lailat Al Qadr, Eid Al Adha, Mawlid An-Nabi (The Prophet's Birthday).
Every December 18th, Qatar celebrates its National Day in commemoration of the historic day in 1878 when Shaikh Jasim, the founder of the State of Qatar, succeeded his father, Shaikh Muhammad Bin Thani, as the ruler and led the country toward unity. This national occasion emphasizes the identity and history, embodies the ideals and visionary aspirations that this country was founded on, and pays homage to the great men and women who participated in building this nation.
Not to forget the several exhibitions and events taking place all the year round, ranging from business, culture, and sports to leisure.