Discover a land of contrasts, dynamic and exciting, yet with a sense of timeless serenity and tradition. Qatar is an exciting country which offers a rich cultural tapestry, new experiences and adventures.
Doha is a world-class city in the making, with a limestone Museum of Islamic Art, perhaps the finest traditional souq in the Gulf region, and a rapidly expanding arts and culinary scene offering a range of sophisticated restaurants. As you admire traditional dhows bobbing on the water alongside one of the world’s most spectacular modern skylines, you’re sure to be captivated.
• You can’t go to Qatar and not make a trip out into the desert! Visit the “Singing Sand Dunes” dunes that vibrate when you drive down them, emitting a low humming sound. So much fun!
• Visit the Souq Waqif in Doha, a mix between a marketplace and outdoor shopping center. There are stalls selling pashminas, trinkets, jewellery, souvenirs, street food and Qatari pearls.
• Museum of Islamic Art – the building is a work of art itself! Arabic culture is ancient and fascinating. This museum features Islamic art from across three continents, created over the last 1,400 years. Pieces are made out of all sorts of things – jewellery, glass work and ceramics and more.
• Check Out the East-west / West-east Sculptures. In 2014, American artist Richard Serra unveiled his latest scupltures, which lie out in the Qatari desert. They are a stunning sight with four steel structures each over fourteen metres in height and span the length of a kilometer.
• Explore the many forts and towers of the ancient times in Doha. They display the architectural and urbanistic wealth of the ancient civilizations that once lived in Qatar. Doha Fort is home to many of Qatar’s traditional handcrafts, exhibits including Bedouin Sadu, fishing boats, handcrafts, gypsum and wooden ornaments. Al Zubara Fort & Museum is one of the oldest museums in Qatar and the oldest archeological site famous for its fort. It features a lot of antiques that showcase the history of Doha.
•Experience a camel race with robot jockeys ‘riding’ the camels! it is a hot, dusty, exciting day in the desert, and an unforgettable way to experience a sport which truly blends the historic past and present of Qatar. Over 6,000 camels from Qatar and across the Gulf travel to the racetrack at Al Shahaniya to participate each season, vying for valuable prizes including gold and silver daggers.
Oct–Feb Avoid the intense heat and humidity of Summer. This is the best time to go where in winter, temperatures are cooler but still warm, with the average around 23ºC from December to February.
Mar & Apr Cheer on the favourite at the Emir’s GCC Camel Race – camel racing at its best.
May–Sep Summer is very long! We recommend avoiding this time if you can, as Qatar experiences extreme daytime temperatures – average high temperatures surpass 38 °C and often approach 45 °C
Currency Qatari Riyal
Language Arabic but English is widely spoken
Why we love it You can spend hours wandering atmospheric and traditional souqs, shopping malls and world class Museums. Our favourite is the Museum of Islamic Art! Qatar is ever-changing and such an exotic and exciting city to visit, vibrating with confidence and energy.
Weather Qatar has a dry, subtropical desert climate with low annual rainfall. Avoid visiting in summer when it is intensely hot and humid. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Qatar, when temperatures are warm but not hot and the evenings can be pleasantly cool.
Social customs and quirks Being a Muslim country, local traditions and practices still prevail and foreigners are expected to be considerate of the culture. Expats are expected to dress in a style appropriate to the Islamic culture. Women should cover the shoulders, upper arms and knees. The dress code in hotels or private clubs is more relaxed. For men, long trousers or long shorts and a shirt are fine. When it comes to greeting, not all Arab men and women will shake hands with those of the opposite sex; so wait to see if they extend their hand first. A hand on the chest is another form of greeting.
You should also avoid expressing admiration for any of your host’s possessions, as tradition dictates that he must then offer it to you. Although this tradition isn’t followed by everybody, it can nevertheless cause embarrassment. What’s more, the correct response is for the recipient to give an even more valued gift in return, so think twice before admiring an Arab’s Rolls Royce!
Festivals & events The Holy Month of Ramadan is the most religious, it starts when the new moon is spotted. Eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims. Non-Muslims are also expected to refrain from eating in public although a number of five-star hotels cater to non-Muslims during those times. When the sun goes down, fasting is put aside, and locals enjoy a celebratory atmosphere almost every night of the week. Families are often eating feasts, and several areas around the capital city, Doha, are important spots for celebrations. Ramadan usually falls between mid-August and early September.
Eid – This festival immediately follows Ramadan. It’s usually in August or September, and is celebrated across the country. Doha offers an exciting festive atmosphere with feasts, dancing, and performances held during the event.