Every vacation calls for a trip with the family and if you have booked your tickets to visit Qatar, then there are certain things that need to be kept in mind. Below is a list of things that will help you have a blast and keep you in line with the rules of the country. It’s better to go prepared then get into trouble.
1. Money, Money, Money
The people in Qatar are considered to be the richest in the world. The currency officially accepted here is the Qatari riyal. There are a number of ATM’s available which provide easy access to the currency. There is an expectation of around ten to fifteen percent as tips in restaurants. All credit cards are accepted.
2. The Fellow Human Beings
The people of Qatar are very friendly and more westernized than the other countries in the Middle East. The journey of their warm hospitality begins at the airport itself, where the locals greet the tourists enthusiastically. The officers all wish a pleasant stay in the country and they do not cause any trouble with migration. There should be no such fear of personal security for men as the crime rate is low. However, women need to take precautions especially in crowded areas.
It is against the morals and laws of the Qataris to hear or speak criticism against the Emir. The officials and most of the locals are not relaxed with the concept of free speech so it’s important to think before talking about Qatar.
3. The Grilling Weather
As the location of Qatar is in the Middle East the temperatures rise as high as fifty degrees Celsius in the summer days and often more than forty degrees in the night. Sunscreen is a must-have for the ultraviolet radiation exposure can cause major heat burns. The desert does not help with the water situation and there is only a short supply of fresh water. Thus, it is essential to conserve as much as possible.
4. What should I wear?
The Arabic countries have certain traditions and they prefer conservative dress especially for the women. Clothes should be below knee-length and covering the shoulders, even though times have changed and the people aren’t as strict about this anymore. The local men wear thawb and the women adorn abaya. Sunglasses and hats help fight the scorching weather. Instead of emptying pockets in the hotel laundry, there are numerous local cleaners who work cheaper.
5. How do I travel?
It is essential to complete the immigration process by following the signs, which will be seen soon after luggage check. Weapons, pork and alcohol are banned on flights. Customs follow in which the individual needs to cross the Nothing to Declare line.
The cars drive one way, but there might be some on rare occasions who break the rules. It’s important to stay alert and keep the focus on the swivel.
Traffic laws are very strict and the penalties are quite high. There is an International Driver’s Permit but that expires in two weeks and the local driving test is extremely difficult to cross. All the driving is on the right-hand side of the road, with the driver situated in the left-hand seat in vehicles.
There are official and unofficial taxis. The official is pastel blue in color and charge by the meter. They lack in number though so unofficial taxis come into play. Qatar is very safe and even though these taxis charge slightly more, they are cleaner and nicer.
6. Forms of Communication
The internet connection is fast with a formidable bandwidth. However, it is not advisable to sift through sites that might be questionable. The hotels and malls also provide Wi-Fi.
7. What to do?
The films that are screened in theatres are also in English with Arabic subtitles. The country is full of expensive malls with all the brands around the world selling and many smaller markets such as Souq Waqif. There are many adventurous activities available such as dune-bashing, swimming and fishing in the Gulf, overnight desert safari, quad bikes, diving, cruises and museums, etc. There are many restaurants which provide all kinds of cuisines and hypermarts which sell all kinds of food. Alcohol is considered a sensitive issue and only expensive hotels are allowed to have bars. The foreign visitors and ex-pats are generally the ones allowed to drink.
Qatar follows laws strictly but as a tourist, once you are aware of what is right and wrong, the country has a lot of adventures to offer. It is essential to go prepared and not fall into any kind of trouble. The guide above is a good start for a successful vacation in Qatar.