Things to know before visiting Qatar
Qatar, a peninsula on the coast of the Persian Gulf, is a tourist destination full of activities and experiences. Don’t know much about Qatar but want to know what it’s like to travel there? With the World Cup coming up in less than 2 weeks, I’m sure many of you are wondering what it’s all about.
In this guide we’ve covered all the important information you need to know before visiting Qatar, including:
• How safe is it to travel in Qatar?
• What is the expected budget
• Best activities and experiences in Qatar
• The best cultural dos and don’ts in Qatar
How tiring it is for the pocket
Qatar definitely shouldn’t be your first choice if you want to take a dime (or your real for that matter) while traveling. While not the most expensive destination in the world, Qatar is a place of luxury living for most visitors.
That being said, expats like Qatar’s tax-exempt status. Wages are high here, so expect the highest rent and food prices in the Middle East. Here is a small breakdown of the costs:
Groceries: Qatar’s geography means that most groceries have to be imported, so most groceries, especially international dishes, tend to be more expensive than in the US and even the UK. According to some recent figures, a three course meal for two in the average restaurant will typically cost you around QR600 (about $165 USD). A meal at McDonald’s costs about $6.50, which is about what you would pay at home.
Accommodation: According to Nomadlist, the average AirBnB in Qatar costs $8,000 per month. But it’s not impossible to find something with a more modest budget. You can get 2-star hotels for under $100 per night in Doha, and there are plenty of hotel-style accommodations near the city center (with pools, of course) that you can buy for around QR 300 (about $85). ). Summer deals are currently available, but be aware that prices are likely to skyrocket when the World Cup comes to town.
How friendly are the locals?
Qataris are known for their hospitality and are always happy to welcome foreigners and show them their country. While helpful and friendly, visitors are also expected to respect and obey local customs. So if you do your research before traveling and follow the do’s and don’ts, you’ll be fine.
Customs and Culture: Dos and Don’ts
This do’s and don’ts section is probably the most important part of our post, What You Should Know About Qatar. Wear a seat belt because there is a lot to read before you travel. Keep it handy during your trip so you don’t forget anything.
• No PDA: Hugging, kissing or anything physical in public with the opposite sex is not allowed in Qatar and may result in a fine or ban. However, holding hands and kissing on the cheek is okay when it’s between a man and a woman.
• Dress Modestly: Non-Muslim women are not required to cover themselves with the hijab or niqab, but they are required to cover themselves before entering the mosque. While it’s not mandatory to cover up in public, men and women are still expected to dress modestly (no shorts, no tops – bare shoulders are not allowed). For bikinis (but not small), it’s best to save for hotel pools only, as public beaches have the same dress code as other public places.
• Same-sex relationships are illegal in Qatar.
• Tipping: If no service charge is added to the bill, a 10% tip is appropriate.
• While some bars and clubs allow drinking, drinking alcohol in public is illegal in Qatar
Gestures to avoid. Some physical gestures are considered highly offensive in Qatar and can result in a fine or worse, so keep this in mind:
• DO NOT do the thumbs up sign. While this is a common greeting in Western culture, it is considered very rude in Qatar.
• Do not cross your legs: especially when sitting in front of someone who is older or taller.
• Do not use your fingers to invite someone, for example to call a waiter. Alternatively, you can also use your palm. It is also very rude to point at someone or even something.
This is not a complete list of all the cultures and customs in Qatar. If you are planning to move here or stay for a longer period of time, we recommend reading our dedicated guide to Qatari culture to get a full picture of what to expect.
Hottest things to do in Qatar
From world-class malls to museums and mangroves, a trip to Qatar is filled with wonder. Here are some of the most popular activities on your trip:
• Al Takira Mangrove: Two hours from Doha is Al Khor’s beautiful mangrove and other wildlife area. There you can rent a kayak to explore the area!
• Doha Museum of Islamic Art: This excellent museum has one of the largest collections of Islamic art in the world. The museum area also offers some of the best views of the city skyline (MIA is currently closed and poised for a massive relaunch this fall).
• Go to the Beach: Qatar is mostly ocean (and very hot most of the year) and is a great place to explore the beautiful beaches that stretch along the peninsula. Try Al Maroona Beach and Fuwairit for beautiful views and Katara Beach for water sports the whole family will love.
How safe is Qatar?
As long as you adhere to local rules and customs, traveling in Qatar is relatively safe.
While there are still some reports of pickpockets in certain areas (perhaps watch your bag and don’t pick up flashy items if you’re in a large crowded area), be aware that Qatar has a low crime rate and you’re safe when you stay in key areas and don’t leave. alone at night.
Travel insurance tips for your trip:
Travel insurance is always a good idea when you start a trip. Protect yourself (at super low rates) with the right health insurance in case you get sick or have your belongings stolen or lost at any time during your trip to Qatar.
Local food and drink
An appetizing meat dish with rice and fresh vegetables, flavorful coffee and tea and plenty of spices, a visit to Qatar is sure to tantalize your taste buds. Here are some of the best food and drinks to try while visiting Qatar:
• Waraq enab: Traditional stuffed grape leaves that can be used as side dishes.
• Machboos: Seasoned rice with almost any kind of meat (camel, beef, lamb, chicken).
• Kousa Mahsi: stuffed zucchini with red sauce.
• Saloona: A stew made with flavorful broth and a bunch of local vegetables.
• Karak Tea: Strong tea
What are the best apps?
There are several handy apps worth downloading before your trip to Qatar including:
• Talabat: The #1 food delivery app in the country.
• Karwa and Uber: the premier ride-sharing apps in Qatar.
• The Entertainer: To receive offers on local attractions, spas and restaurants in Qatar
• Babbel and Duolingo: Great language apps to practice some basic Arabic phrases for your trip!
What is the best cultural experience?
There are so many ways to experience Qatari culture and learn a little history along the way. Start your adventure by booking a once-in-a-lifetime glamping trip to the nearby wilderness, where you can sleep under the stars at a five-star, full-service campground. So you live like a Bedouin, but with WiFi.
Your trip to Qatar will most likely start in Doha, which is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the local Qatari culture. The city’s main market, Souq Waqif, is the perfect place to people watch and shop for beautiful colorful handicrafts and textiles. Save space in your suitcase!
How long can I stay?
As of this writing, travelers from more than 95 countries are not required to apply for a visa when planning a short visit to Qatar. Travelers from the US, UK and most European countries are granted a visa on arrival which allows them to stay in the country for up to 30 days, extendable once for an additional 30 days.
You just need to make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from arrival and present your next ticket (return ticket or to your next destination) upon entry. Visit the Hamad International Airport immigration page for more information.
Even though Qatar is a new player on the global travel scene, a trip here will not disappoint. There are many wonderful experiences from eating food and learning many things. Arrive with an open mind and be greeted by the unique sights and sounds of this beautiful region.