WHAT TO WEAR?
The clothes I have worn in Qatar are the same that I wear for work in Brazil: long trousers and a top with sleeves. In the picture you will be able to notice that there is no difference. There is no need for tourists to cover their heads with scarfs, or wear the Burkaa. Qatar is full of foreigners. The country isn’t as strict as Saudi Arabia, when it comes to women’s dress code, but it’s good to remember that it is an Islamic country and costumes are different from the West. Foreign women must respect the dress code and keep their knees and shoulders covered, and they must not wear anything too tight. At public beaches you can wear a one or a two piece bathing suit, as long as it is decent. The dress code becomes much more important during the Ramadan.
ARAB OUTFITS: WOMEN
The Burkas are clothes that cover the whole body, from head to toe, leaving only a small opening for the eyes. Qatari women wear the abeya, a black tunic with long sleeves. These tunics can be plain black, although some women like to wear different abeyas, with embroideries or spangles and jewels around the neckline and sleeves. On their heads they wear a scarf called sheela, covering the top of their head and their necks.
You will also see, as soon as you arrive at the airport, some women who also cover their entire faces with a piece of clothing called niqab, leaving only small openings for the eyes. This is usually a fabric which matches the Abaya, but sometimes you will see older women using metal plates on their faces and noses.
ARAB OUTFITS: MEN
Qatari men wear a white outfit called thobe or dishdasha. On their heads they wear a scarf called ghotra, held in place by a black stick, the aagal. The ghotra is normally white, but you also see red and white or black and white prints, and those are named differently. And this is what differentiates each person’s country of origin.
The local currency is the Qatari Riyal (QR). 1 Dollar is worth 3, 64 QR (generally stable). At the Souq (Arabic Market) and in some mall shops, dollars are accepted, but it is better to have some local money on you for an emergency. You can use your credit and debit cards without worries. In some ATM’s you can find the option of withdrawing in dollars or riyals.
It’s very easy to buy a local SIM card. All you need for that is to take your passport along and fill in a form. Just as a rough idea, with a plan of approximately 10 dollars you will be able to make local calls and access 4G internet for one week.
Most of the population has got a car and that explain the big traffic jams. Public transportation is available all over the city of Doha, busses of the Mowasalat transportation company. There are also other private services, like the Doha Bus, which takes people to a city tour.
Taxis are cheap and worth taking. They are available in taxi stands outside some shopping centers and the souk, but don’t expect to easily find a cab available in the middle of the street. You will need to call a taxi company. There are also the non-official drivers. The country also has a railroad system and due to the 2022 World Cup, a subway is under construction.
- The country is super safe. You can walk around with jewels, cameras, etc.
- No beggars will stop you in the streets asking for money. If that happens and a policeman is near, the beggar will be arrested.
- You won’t see beggars or trash on the floor.
- In Brazil it is common for men to whistle when a pretty woman passes by, or maybe say something rude. This you will never see in Qatar.
- Couples walking hand in hand: you might even see youngster doing it or foreigners, but you won’t see passionate kisses on the streets.
- Cigarettes are allowed inside some restaurants and you will see youngsters, ladies and gentlemen smoking shisha (more commonly known over here as narguile). Shisha is a water pipe used to smoke scented tobacco.
- Access to the internet is fast, but some hotels charge for the Wi-Fi connection. So I suggest you buy a SIM card to have your own internet access. It will be cheaper this way.
- Alcoholic beverages: this is a delicate subject. Alcoholic drinks are sold only inside hotel restaurants.
- Green tea with peppermint: the most common drink after meals.
- Working days go from Sunday to Thursday.
- Don’t worry about the language. specially in the capital, Doha, 95% of the population speaks English. The signs spread all over town are in Arab and in English.
- 1 million tourists have visited Qatar in 2014, the majority from Saudi Arabia.
- You will see works everywhere, after all the country is preparing to host a historical World Cup
The major problem of a journey to Qatar is that I usually come back home with a few extra kilos, since the food is hard to resist. It is delicious. There are restaurants from many regions of the world in the country. The abundance stands out. If you are in the company of someone from the Arab world they will insist that you try everything there is on the table, and then you will understand the use of the green tea with peppermint. At the end of every meal you will desperately order some tea. Desserts are very sweet, in the real sense of the word. They are so beautiful that sometimes you feel sorry to eat them.
WHY IS IT THAT ARABS DO NOT EAT PORK?
The way by which some food are prepared and captured goes against the laws and principles of Islam. Pork and its by-products, including ham and bacon, are forbidden foods.
HOW MANY TIMES A DAY DO THEY PRAY?
There are Mosques everywhere in the country. Islamic religious values are very much respected in Qatar. To show any sort of disrespect with religious beliefs or practices is considered deeply offensive and this will most likely result in a heavy fine and or prison. Other religions are also respected and can be followed by the foreign community. Muslims pray five times a day. You will notice that the Mosques call the people through a P.A. system. At this moment, you will also notice that the music in public places will be turned off.
During the sacred month of the Ramadan, the Muslins fast from dawn to dusk. Along the whole of this month, to eat, smoke, play loud music and dance in public places during the day are strictly forbidden and punishable by law, and that includes non-Muslims as well. Every night during the Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the break of their fasts with an evening meal called Iftar. You will encounter many hotels and restaurants all over the country serving Iftar buffets.
WHEN IS THE RAMADAN ?
The beginning of Ramadan each year is based on the combination of observations of the moon and in astronomic calculations. Its end is determined through the same manner. Because Islamism uses the lunar calendar (which is eleven days shorter than the solar calendar, adopted by most part of the Western world), the sacred period of Ramadan varies from year to year, which means that the fast can be celebrated in different months and seasons.
Since 2004, Qatar was divided into seven arab municipalities
1) Ash Madinat Shamal
2) Al Khor
3) Umm Salal
4) Al Daayen
5) Al Rayyan
7) Al Wakrah
WHAT TO DO ON YOUR FIRST WEEK IN QATAR
Known for its shops and luxurious hotels, Qatar, surprises many times with its traditional Arab roots. During summer, with high temperatures, Doha wins life after the sun goes down. Shops and restaurants stay open until very late.When the weather is cooler, from November on, the inhabitants enjoy outdoor activities.
IMPORTANT CONTACT NUMBERS
Emergencies (police or ambulance): 999
Worldwide Emergency Number: 112
KAHRAMAA – Electricity and Water: 991
Ooredoo Assistance Telephone: 111
Local Directory: 180
International Calls Enquiries: 150
Weather Info: 141, 140
Doha’s International Airport: 4465 6666
Labor Department: 4440 6406/ 4450 8111/4440 6537
Medical Commission: 4467 9111
Mowasalat Taxi: 4458 8888
Qatar Airways: 4449 6000
Weather Forecas: 4465 6590
Country Code: +974
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT QATAR
- The oldest evidence of human housing in Qatar goes back to the Fourth Century B.C., from which artifacts like rupestrian inscriptions, rock sculptures, rock spear edges and even ceramics were dug by Danish, British and French expeditions between 1965 e 1976.
- Qatar will host FIFA’s World Cup in 2022, and 12 emblematic eco-friendly stadiums will be built, some of which will be able to receive up to 80.000 people.
- Doha is Qatar’s capital and its name derives from the Arab word “Ad-Dawha ‘, which is translated into” big tree “.
- If you are new in Doha, you will find a great number of on-line resources to help you find new activities to make and new people to meet. Some of these popular resources include ILoveQatar, Doha Tweetups and JustHere.qa.
- If you are a cinema lover, Doha’s Cinema Institute has independent films, as well as prime time movies regularly. For music, you have options like live jazz, classical music and other places around Qatar. Jazz lovers can check the Lincoln Center at St. Regis Doha or Doha Jazz at Oryx Rotana Jazz Club. Qatar’s Philharmonic Orchestra performs a series of concerts, every Saturday, at the Katara Opera House, as well as outdoor concerts, at the Museum of Islamic Art in some weekends.
- Qatar’s National Day is December 18th, to celebrate the country’s independence from Great Britain. Some of the other national holidays are: National Sports Day celebrated in the second Tuesday of February. Since it is mainly an Islamic country, Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha are celebrated all over the country in a grand way.
- Eid Al Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. The second, known as the Greater Eid or Eid al-Adha, commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to Allah. Eid al-Adha is also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, which Muslims usually sacrifice an animal and distribute its meat among family, friends, and the poor people.
- The Pearl: it’s a luxury enterprise estate built on an artificial island in the shape of a pearl necklace, on the margins of Doha. It was built on top of an old local pearls diving spot and, it is at present, a great place to dine, for strolls, meeting friends and buying luxury fashion and other goods.
- The world-renowned architect, IM Pei has projected the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, with a magnificent geometrical architecture. It was launched in 2008, and its constructions is a mixture of both Islamic and Modern architectonic styles.
- Qatar is originally a desert, although with a diversified array of flora and fauna. Purple Island is an example of that. Located 40 km away from Doha close to the municipality of Al Khor, Purple Island is a fish shaped island with various calcareous cliffs and a mangrove forest with a large variety of fish, shellfish, as well as birds, including pink flamingos.
- Every winter the traditional camel races are held in Al Shahaniya.
- Arabic is Qatar national language, but due to a great foreign population residing in the country, English and French are also widely used.
- At the Souq Waqif (Arab market) there is a veterinarian surgery center for falcons, which are the traditional birds of Qatar.
- Qatar hosts the MotoGP every year, the motorcycling Grand Prix of Doha, in the International Losail Circuit, located in the North of Qatar. So, if you are interested in motorcycle races, this is a big event for you to take part.