Welcome to Qatar
Qatar has a mild and pleasant winter season (October to May) with temperature ranging from 25 degrees during the day, reducing to relatively cool evenings of around 7 degrees centigrade. During the height of summer (June, July and August), temperatures are high 46+ degrees, with high humidity in and around the coast. Shamals (sandstorms) can occur any time throughout the year. Rainfall is low, averaging 75mm per year.
Cotton clothing is recommended for most of the year. However, sweaters are required in the evenings as nights can become quite chilly. Comfortable shoes/sandals are a prerequisite as in some areas; roads and pavements can be cracked and sandy. As Doha hosts may galas, functions and events, smart daytime and evening clothes are required. Doha has a limitless range of modern, stylish and fashionable boutiques and popular “bands” which can be found in many shopping malls. Equally, there are many good tailors in Doha and you can thus increase your wardrobe on a low budget with all the lovely fabrics found in the local markets.
The country has a modern road system with underpasses and flyovers along with a motorway linking Qatar to Saudi Arabia and thus, other GCC countries. The Friendship Bridge” linking Qatar to Bahrain, is on the drawing board with construction to commence shortly.
Metered taxis are easy to find, cheap, clean and air conditioned with 1 number to call: 458-8888
Car hire is readily available and it is possible to drive on an international driving license for 6 months from your date of arrival in Qatar. All other national licenses, however, are only valid for 7 days after which, application for a temporary Qatari driving license must be make.
All makes of cars and 4WD’s are available and there is an active second hand car market. Petrol is very reasonably priced and third party car insurance is mandatory.
There are no train options in Doha, but there is a public bus service throughout the town and to major cities.
Speed limits vary with “on the spot” fines for misdemeanors; seat belts are compulsory.
In the event of an accident, the vehicle should not be moved until the police arrives on the scene, whether or not there are any injuries. A police report has to be issued. To call the Police, dial: 999
Doha Limousine: 483-9999
Fox Transport: 462-2777
Karrwa taxi services: 458-8888
Al Sulaiman: 435-5477
Mannai Autorent: 455-8636
National car rental: 487-8068
Avis rent a car:
Used Cars Dealers:
Oasis used cars: 431-1606
Mannai trading company: 441-2555
And all major car dealers have a used car branch in their showrooms.
Driving licenses may be obtained at the Madinat Khalifa Traffic department which is open from Sunday through Thursday from 6:30am until noon and from 1:30pm until 7:00pm. There is a ladies section which is only open during the morning shift.
At a cost of QR 155, the applicant must submit a valid driver’s license from their country of origin along with passport plus photocopies of each and three passport-sized photographs. A letter, in Arabic, from your sponsor will assist and an eye test examination will have to be undertaken.
Traffic department telephone: 489-0666
Most foods are imported into Qatar, however, local fresh fish along with a variety of vegetables, herbs and spices are in abundance. There are many choices of supermarkets carrying an international variety of fresh food products and sundries in Doha. Some of the larger supermarkets are:
Carrefour (city center – Doha), tel: 484-6265
Mega mart (landmark ) tel: 488-3001
Lulu hypermarket, tel: 432-4324
Mega mart (the Centre), tel: 444-0018
Giant (Hayatt Plaza), tel: 469-2991
Q-Mart (the Mall), tel: 467-8822
Souqs, or traditional markets, have always been ingrained in Arab history. From spices to gold and fabrics to fish, there are a number of easily accessible souqs within Doha. The main souq runs behind the Corniche where anything from oriental carpets to antiques to electronic equipment, watches, jewelers and perfumes may be found. To experience the small alley-ways, the sights, the sounds and the smells of the souqs is part of life in Qatar. Bargaining is expected and with a little patience, many delights, fond memories and bargains may be found.
The list of shopping malls in Doha is growing every day, offering everything from department stores and well known brands to food outlets and cafeterias. Malls here are comparable to malls in western countries; however, opening hours may vary.
A brief selection of shopping malls follows:
· City centre – Doha, tel: 483-3185
· The Centre, tel: 444-0202
· Landmark Shopping Mall, tel: 487-5222
· Hayatt Plaza, tel: 469-4848
· The Mall, tel: 467-8888
Places to Eat
Food outlets range across the board from 5 stars relatively expensive cuisine; found in hotels, to Indian curry houses and as food joints which are inexpensive and exceptionally good value. In Doha, the variety is on a par with anywhere else in the world with well known brands, such as Burger king, pizza hut, Fuddruckers and McDonald’s. it should be mentioned here that alcohol is only served in hotels. Pubs are located within the hotels where all varieties of snacks, including Tex-Mex and steak houses can be found. There are also a number of coffee shops located within or outside of the hotels serving excellent pastries, fresh juices and cappuccino.
The consumption of alcohol by Muslims is strictly forbidden under Islamic law, however, Qatar’s attitude towards alcohol for non-Muslims is more lenient and thus alcohol is available in most hotels, private clubs and even on Palm Tree Island!. Permanent residents of Qatar who are non-Muslims may apply for a liquor license and alcohol can then be purchased from Qatar Distribution Company, tel: 469-9412/3
Drunken behavior in public or driving under the influence of alcohol is an offence, punished by imprisonment, a fine of both, with the driver’s driving license being revoked.
Newspapers / Publications
There are several local English newspapers available with the Gulf Times being the most widely read. An annual subscription, at a cost of QR 550, will ensure delivery to your home.
Gulf Times, tel: 446-6620
The Peninsula, tel: 466-1345
Q-Tel is currently the only service provider. International Direct Dialling to most countries is available with reduced rates from 7pm to 7am on weekdays, Fridays and public holidays. Local calls from landlines are free. Pre-paid telephone cards (known locally as Hala cards) along with Q-cards for international calls and Qtel internet cards of arious denominations are widely available.
Q-Tel’s headquarters are located in West Bay, however, there are numerous Q-Tel branches at various locations throughout Qatar.
Q-Tel general equiries, tel: 440-0400
Telephone directory, tel: 180
International calls, tel: 150
Medical and dental treatment is widely available to all residents and visitors through the many health centres and private practices within Doha. In order to receive medical treatment from the various clinics/hospitals, a health (medical) card is required. The cost of which is currently Qr 100.
Health cards can be obtained at your local clinic on production of a valid residence permit.
In the period after your arrival and before your residence permit is granted, you (together with any visitors and/or residing family) can attend any government clinic although you will be charged the consultation, treatment and prescription fees.
Ambulance emergency service, tel: 999
American dental center, tel: 467-5995
American hospital, tel: 442-1999
Doha clinic, tel: 432-7300
Hamad Hospital, tel: 439-2111
Qatar Medical centre, tel: 444-0606
There are several ways to obtain domestic help, either directly from local recruitment companies or advertising in the local papers; however, once you have moved into your new home, you will undoubtedly be approached by an abundance of gardeners and neighbor’s houseboys and maids looking for work. Take the time to check their references. For short term help, Rose Services (tel: 525-2377) can provide maids on an hourly, daily, weekly and / or monthly basis.
The electrical current is 240 volts at 50 cycles and standard British square pin plugs are used. In the event that your home is not connected, you will need the account number of the property, with is either located on a small black plaque outside the villa or above the front door of your apartment. You will need to take this number with you to the main Qatar Electricity & Water department (KAHRAMAA), located near the Mall on D Ring road along with a duly completed and signed application form plus photocopies of your rental agreement, your company’s CR number and computer card. A refundable deposit of QR 2,000 which includes both electricity and water connection must be paid.
Electricity (and water) bills can be paid at the main KAHRAMAA office the central Post office on the Corniche.
Electricity Emergency Service, tel: 467-7601/2/3/4
Kahramaa customer services, tel: 462-8254
For water connection, the format above applies through the account number is on a blue plaque.
Although tap water is perfectly safe to drink, being desalinated, many people prefer the varieties of bottled water available in Qatar. Water filters and coolers can be purchased if required.
Water Emergency Service, tel: 432-5959
Tip: in the summer months, turn off your water heater as the cold water becomes naturally hot and your hot water tap provides you with cooler water!.
There are plenty of outdoor activities in Doha, both within and outside of the numerous first class beach-fronted hotels and clubs.
Forts, parks, stables and horse racing, the Oryx farm, desert driving, the Inland Sea and museums are within easy distance of Doha, along with a huge expanse of beach/coastline for picnics, safe swimming and beach-combing.
A number of multiplex cinemas are available in Doha and the showings are listed in the local newspapers. For ease of reference:
City Centre Cinema, tel: 483-9990
Landmark cinema, tel: 488-1674
The Mall cinema, tel: 467-8666
Clubs and special interests
Gardening Group: the Doha Garden Club – a social group interested in gardening in the Gulf. For more info: 441-1945 or 472-3171
Golf clubs: two golf clubs – the Doha Gulf Club, tel: 483-2338 and the Mesaeed Golf Course, tel: 477-1740
Sailing Clubs – Doha sailing club, tel: 443-9840 and the Regatta sailing Academy, tel: 550-7846
Horse Riding, Al Shaqab Riding Club, tel: 481-2061 and the Racing & Equestrian club, tel: 481-3471
Doha Rugby Club, tel: 468-3771
Water sports, Doha Club, tel: 441-8822, and several at hotels
Government departments are open from 7am to 2pm, Saturdays through Thursdays. Banks from 7:30am to 1:00pm, Sunday through Thursdays; some branches remain open especially those located in shopping Malls.