Doha is an amazing place worth your time and money. It is a combination between the old culture and the new views on business. And if you are planing to travel to Doha, Qatar, you need to know some key information.
The national currency of Qatar is the Qatari Riyal. Currency rate (as of publication) : $ 1 = 3,64 QAR; 1€ = 4,01 QAR.
If you brought your dollars or euros with you, it will be a bit difficult to fund the exchange places, so my advice is to just use your card and keep cash for the next destination.
Time zone: GMT +3;
The hottest month is July, with an average temperature of 37° C (99° F); the coldest month is January, with an average temperature of 18,5°C (65° F).
Qatar has long summers. Usually they are very muggy and partly cloudy, but the winters are very comfortable, dry and clear.
Qatar’s official language is Arabic. But due to the British influence and a large number of expats almost everyone speaks English. So you don’t need to know Arabic to get around and feel comfortable.
Even those who moved here permanently don’t always study the national language. But of course if you want to understand the culture better you will need some knowledge of Arabic.
Don’t be afraid to make an attempt to use some Arabic words like “Hala” means “Hello” or “Welcome”; “Shukran” – “Thank you”; “Afwan” – “You are welcome”. This will be deeply appreciated.
The state religion in Qatar is Islam. Most native population belong to the Sunni sect of Islam. Muslim – 67,7% of the population; Christians – 13,8% of Qatari population. Hindus at – 13,8%; Buddhists – 3,1%.
Doha is considered a very safe city for tourists. It has very little crime. Women walking alone might be approached or may be the object of curiosity. Just behave politely and keep walking. The locals are well behaved and well educated. They are usually very nice to tourists.
Although it is very safe place, but if you travel to Doha don’t forget about some rules you need to follow while you are traveling in Qatar or you might get a fine. It is better to wear conservative clothes. For women: no mini-skirts or tank tops. For men: no shorts. The knees and the shoulders should be covered. Sandals and flip-flops are allowed.
Remember that you are in an Islamic country and you are expected to dress according to the religion. Particularly be aware of the month of Ramadan. Just follow this simple dress code to not offended people around you.
All that being said, if you want to go to the beach you absolutely still can. There is one public beach where you still must follow all the cultural rules (meaning birkinis and the like), however all the rest of the beaches in Doha are private. Most of these are owned by hotels, and as with hotel rules, you can wear whatever you like. You want to wear a bikini? Just go to Westbay beach next to Intercontinental, or the beaches at the St Regis or Four Seasons. You do have to pay to use these beaches, but that’s the cost of liberalism in Qatar.
Although when we went to the Pearl -Qatar it was clear that the rules are much more relaxed along with the vibe in general.
Most places in Doha except credit or debit cards. You can find the ATMs almost everywhere as well. They also don’t charge a big fee for withdrawal which is nice.
It was a surprise for us how cheap prices for Uber were in Doha. To get from the airport to our hotel we paid just 10$. So you won’t have any problem with taking an Uber ride a few times.
Public transportation is decent as well. In Doha there is a good bus network which links the whole of Doha to the rest of the country. In the city there are two ways to use the bus. First you can buy a smart card at the Mowasalat’s main bus station in Old Ghanim or at the few small grocery stores. The card will cost 20 – 30 QAR and the fares around the Doha area will cost 3 – 7 QAR. Or if you don’t have a card, you can pay a flat fee of 10 QAR. Of course it is cheaper than the taxi, but be prepared that the buses are usually overcrowded and sometimes are not frequent.
If you are planing to drive, then before travel to Doha you need to obtain an International Driving Permit. Qatar is in United Nations convention and they require from tourists a valid iDP.
Doha is actually not that expensive. If you are on a budget you can rent a decent hostel for 100 QAR (27$) or a hotel 150 QAR (40$).
If you are not going to eat at the fancy restaurants the dinner will be around $15 – $20 per person in a touristy place.
Restaurants: In a tourist area most restaurants include service fee in a bill. But it is known that waiters and waitresses usually don’t receive this money. So it is highly appreciated if you tip about 10% -15% at the restaurants. Although, I think it is unfair, since the customer has to pay a service fee twice.
Hotels: if you are having a meal at the hotel, it is not necessary to tip, but it is considered a nice gesture. Tip for doormen is 10 – 20 QAR ($2 – $3); For housekeepers $2 per day.
Taxi: Usually people are tipping taxi drivers in Doha. A minimum of 5 – 10 QAR is recommended and it is highly appreciated.