Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

It wasn’t the top travel experience of our lives, but we didn’t regret our visit. The cool weather of early spring was perfect for lounging by the superb swimming pools of our hotel (the Four Seasons). Swimming in the sea wasn’t anything special.

We mostly ate in malls, and it turned out that one of the most interesting activities in Qatar is just watching everyday life. Most of that life, however, seems to take place inside shopping malls.
In the modern parts of Doha, there are virtually no pedestrians, and people stared at us for walking in the street. There are places for walking, but only in the old town and along the seafront promenades. The old town is small but very neat and cozy, and maybe just a bit artificial. The seafront promenades are very beautiful.” (SP, 2015)


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“It’s a sort of ‘custom’ now to compare Doha with Dubai, but there’s really no basis for comparison except the money and the skyscrapers (still, the current embargo is doing Doha no good). The city isn’t a great place for holidays or relaxation, since it doesn’t have any attractions to attract tourists, though that may change in the future – if only because the 2022 Soccer World Cup will be held in Qatar.

It is important to note that during our visit to Doha we stayed at a hotel near the airport – a Marriott – and it’s worth bringing up here for several reasons: because one of the stadiums is being built right next to it, this hotel has the country’s largest hotel pool, and an excellent but expensive Friday brunch. I’ve never before seen such a wide repertoire or a hotel with so many restaurants. I liked the renovated wings less than the old ones, but that’s a matter of taste. (This will be one of the most exclusive hotels in the country when the World Cup begins!!)

It is also worth mentioning the Islamic Museum and the souq, which can be visited free of charge.

Another interesting destination is the falcon hospital.


Qatar - Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum - oldies - Elter photo

Qatar - Doha - shopkeeper - Elter photo

Qatar - snapshot - Elter photo

Qatar - cameleer - Elter photo

Practicals

Transport

Public transportation is underdeveloped. However, train networks have started to operate in 2020.

In the event of a car accident, the police must always be contacted.

If you drive a car in Qatar, be aware that the traffic discipline is very different from what you are used to in your country.

Qatar - road junction - j.k. photo

Food

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Qatar - a cup of coffee pls - Elter photo

Qatar - mezze - l.z. photo

Shopping

USD is widely accepted, bank cards even more. 

Bargaining with shopkeepers is common in any souq in Qatar.  You are allowed to return the offer at a significantly lower price. You let the price increase up to the amount you are willing to pay. Although this is just a game, you should do it and consider it as a traditional ritual.

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In Qatar, people don’t yet make all their purchases in vast supermarkets. Here, markets are still an integral part of everyday life. In fact, my first impression of Qatar was that this was a country of colorful, loud, and of course odorous markets. In fact, there are so many Indian faces, not only in the market but everywhere else in the country, that you sometimes feel as though you’re in India. Some people love small fish, some big, some striped, some colorful, some smooth-skinned, some scaly, some predatory, some plant-eating. But for sure, EVERYONE loves fresh fish. Halal means "allowed" in Arabic, as opposed to haraam which means "forbidden". Islamic rules that make something fit for human consumption are very similar to the Jewish kashrut, which prescribes what is kosher or permitted. What is forbidden: pork, blood, most carnivores, with a few exceptions, and, in Shia Islam, mussels and crabs as well. Or the consumption of any meat that does not come from an animal slaughtered in the name of Allah. And of course, alcohol is on the blacklist too! It is also important that animals should be killed with the least possible suffering, according to strict rules. With a single sharp incision, the carotid arteries and veins should be cut to completely bleed. These rules also had practical health implications at the time. Bloodless meat, for example, is much less perishable. Qataris, by the way, typically love animals, and many keep birds as pets. Live parrots, pigeons, and other birds can also be bought in a separate market. Alongside camels, or ‘ships of the desert, horses are also very popular. Although Islam prohibits betting on horse races, it does not prohibit racing itself. The king of the animals here, at least in the hearts of Qataris, is a bird of prey: the falcon.”


Qatar - lay-figures - Elter poto

Fun

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Qatar - preparing for the camel race - Elter photo

Public safety

,, There are no beggars, thief or eve teaser you will find on the street. It's really safe to be here. Qatar is considered one of the safest countries in the world.

, Some places are not women-friendly, like Souq Haraj on a Friday night. There are a lot of male bastards who will misuse being in the crowd.  Women should avoid such places if they do not wish to get touched by perverts around."

Health


Practically all the time, keep some drinking water with you. That is especially necessary if you are on a desert safari, a desert tour, or a short desert excursion.
Besides, it would be best to carry enough sunscreen with a very high sun protection factor. Wearing headgear is recommended to protect the head from the intense sun rays.

When visiting the beaches of Qatar, pay attention to stonefish (a species of venomous fish), which indeed look like stones. As soon as these feel threatened, they inject poison through a sting, leading to severe pain. Luckily that happens very rarely.
 

Others

1. In Qatar, the possession, consumption, sale of drugs, and therefore any drug abuse, are strictly punished, even having the smallest quantity.

2. Extramarital affairs and homosexuality are forbidden, although not persecuted, and may have criminal consequences if reported to the authorities.

3. If possible, excursions should be planned and made out in the early morning or late evening.

Background

Qatar - national flag

Destination in brief

Qatar in brief 

Qatar is a small Arabic country in the Middle East, located on a peninsula in the Persian Gulf. Neighbors: Saudi Arabia and Bahrain (east), United Arab Emirates (west). 

Size: 11,571 km² (4,467 mi²) - There are no trees at all in Qatar. Together with San Marino, Greenland and Oman, it is one of the only four territories in the world without forests.

Population (in 2020): 2.8 million

Qatar is a monarchy ruled by an emir. Arabic is the official language, and English is widely spoken. 95% of the population is Muslim (90% Sunni). 

The capital city is Doha. 

Official currency: Qatar riyal (QAR)

Qatar is a high-income economy, backed by the world's third-largest natural gas and oil reserves. Almost all of its oilfields are offshore. 

Oil money funds an all-embracing welfare state for its citizens, with many free or heavily subsidized services. In contrast with what citizens get, the treatment of migrant workers has been drawing a lot of criticism from international human rights groups.

Qatar is a safe, stable country. 

Petrol in Qatar is exceptionally cheap. It costs more to buy two Starbucks lattes than to fill up a Grand Cherokee.

Best time to visit: November-March. June-August is terrible hot. 

Most frequent surname: Khan 

Main tourist attractions: Souq Waqif (a kind of Old Town), the Museum of Islamic Art, Pearl (an artificial island), Mathaf (Museum of Modern Art), Katara (cultural village), Villaggio Mall, Aquatic Funfair 

Ramadan in 2021: 13 April – 12 May

One of the locals’ favorite sports is camel racing. Kids were used as camel jockeys until 2004, when it was decided it’s too dangerous (duh) and children were replaced by robots. Yes, there are robots racing on camels in Qatar!


Geography

The Inland Sea in Qatar is one of the two places in the world where the Sand Dunes touch the open sea.

Climate

Qatar's climate is extreme. Winter (from October to May) is pleasant, mostly around 15-26C. But in the summer months hard to bear the heat,  sometimes exceeding 50 degrees in the shade. Summer heat can be exacerbated by high humidity in August-September.  There are some rains in January-February.

Despite the hot climate, travelers should always bring a light sweater or something similar, for there is an increased risk of catching a cold, especially in air-conditioned rooms, shopping centers, when shopping in the evening at a souq or when visiting the beach.

Nowadays

,, There is some discrimination against Asians. Westerns are treated higher compared to Asians. For instance, an American and Indian can work in the same company and have the same position. But the American fellow will generally have a salary much more than that of the Asian guy. This discrimination became so common that people have learned to accept it already."

Qatar - Doha - l.z. photo

Qatar - Doha - Tornado Tower - Elter photo

Qatar - Doha - Navigation Tower - Elter photo

Qatar - Doha - Burj Doha - Elter photo

People

Qataris are rich and a bit stern in their attitudes towards foreigners.

Qatar - falconers - Elter photo

Qatar - marketer - l.a. photo

Tourist etiquette

1. Mosques need head covers, arms, and legs to be covered. Common areas such as malls and markets are OK with knee-length bottoms and sleeveless tops. Wearing shorts and short skirts, low-cut tops, or sheer clothing is not appropriate. In contrast, wearing loose pants is OK.

Bars and clubs are OK with whatever you wish to wear (call to check the dress code, though). Beaches (public) are few, so you have to wear respectful swimwear. Take a hotel with a beach, so if you desire to wear a bikini, you can do so without any hesitation.

2. Avoid publicly and openly discuss religious matters. There is a risk that your words will be interpreted as a disgrace to the Prophet or the Islam, and - if so - you'll be punished (fine or prison).

3. Tourists are allowed to take pictures, but you must ask permission before taking photos of locals, especially citizens and covered women, hijabi women, women in an abaya. It is forbidden to take pictures of ports, military objects, government offices, mosques, palaces, private residences, industrial facilities, etc., or in other places if marked so with signs.


4. Controversial discussions with police, immigration officers, security personnel, directors, or similar official people are risky, especially if they are Qataris. There is a simple rule that the Qataris are always right. Any of your attempts to contradict them will fail, if not deepening the problem. If you come into such a situation as a visitor or tourist, at least make sure to discuss it in private, because you have more chance to solve your problem.

5. Don’t argue with angry drivers. By the way, the police, the authorities always will side with the Qatari citizens.

6. It is forbidden to say or write anything negative about the ruling family.

7. Do not go in public when drunk and cannot control your posture, body language, and words.

8. If you happen to be an atheist, do not say this in Qatar.

9. Especially in the hot months and Ramadan, the Muslims are active from the evening hours, even until the morning. That is the time when they can eat, drink, and all that in lesser heat.  Tourists shouldn't be surprised or complained about these activities, e.g., in the hotels.

10. When you go to public beaches, inform about the dress code regulations, which exist mainly for women. These rules should be strictly observed.

11. Drinking alcohol is restricted to specific locations or areas, such as in assigned bars or hotels.

12. Never stare too noticeably at Qatari citizens, no matter how fascinating or interesting is their look or clothing. That is an essential rule of conduct in Qatari society. If you do otherwise, you will probably risk angry eyes.

Foreign workers make up the vast majority of the population, and they are not subject to such rules.

13. Pointing the finger directly at Qataris should be avoided at all costs. That is not appropriate in your country either, but the negative effect in Qatar is much stronger.

14. If you are a man, avoid talking to an Arab woman in public (e.g., asking for directions). In contrast, speaking to an Arab woman by a female visitor is not a problem. If you are traveling with your family, the woman should talk to the Arab woman.

15. It is an insult to a Muslim man if his offer to shake hands is rejected. However, a Muslim woman can leave shaking hands with you, but that is simply a religious ban for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

16. Being late to the agreed time in Qatar do not count as rudeness. It is entirely useless to blame a local for not arriving at the exact time.

17. When sitting opposite, avoid pointing the feet, or the feet' soles, as this posture can be considered an insult in the local culture. It is also considered an insult to sit with your back to the person you are speaking to.









Attractions

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Qatar - Doha - Pigeon Towers - K. Elter's photo

Museum of Islamic Art

Qatar - Doha - Museum of Islamic Art - b.i. photo

Pearl

"The most exclusive part of Qatar is the Pearl. From the Ferrari Salon to the most fashionable designer stores and the most expensive and upscale residential towers, you can find everything here. We drove through it pretty quickly, which was lucky, because traffic here can be unpredictable and time-consuming. Sitting in the back seat as we drove towards the center, I took in the view of Qatar’s gorgeous modern buildings, The Corniche runs around the coast of the Pearl, and beyond it the blue-green sea laps against the beautiful beaches. There are palm trees, modern sculptures, the Souq or market hall – all indescribably and painfully beautiful, and yet my mind was constantly wondering how something could be so beautiful and yet so horrible.

A car honks its horn at us from behind. An impatient Qatari in an ugly baby-blue Rolls Royce arrogantly wants us to move over and let him pass since he doesn’t feel like overtaking us. This is actually a fairly harmless case – it’s not uncommon for them to express their displeasure by overtaking and then pulling on the handbrake to scare the driver behind to die. The exponentially increasing number of unbelievably expensive luxury cars is an unmistakable sign that we are slowly approaching the Pearl. A multitude of pink Lamborghinis, antique cars, Porsches, and of course brand-new Land Cruisers in colors reminiscent of old matchbox models crowd along this stretch of road, all driven by Qatari men in white clothes or crazy teens.

We slowly turn onto the road leading to the Pearl, and it’s like entering another world. Everything here is surfaced with artificial grass, and the sea looks even bluer, even more, sparkling when it surrounds such luxury. On the way to my residential tower, which is my workplace, I rarely see people walking on the street, except some Filipino maids or other workers. On the other side of the Pearl is a harbor full of huge and expensive yachts, including the ships of the Prince and Emir of Qatar. Renting an apartment here is unimaginably expensive: the monthly rent starts at about seven thousand dollars, and that can easily double. On the other hand, this is the only place in Qatar where foreigners can actually buy real estate. The cost of building this artificial island currently stands at around $15 billion, but it still isn’t finished. Permanent residents here are typically foreigners, while most locals, if they buy an apartment here, only keep it for occasional use.

My driver suddenly begins to stare at something, and I follow the direction of his gaze. He is staring at a woman in shorts walking a dog, who I’ve bumped into before. Here, the self-exhibiting dress is particularly noticeable and punishable, though in such indescribable heat (+50 degrees) it’s a logical choice. Not to mention that in this country, women are mostly still reduced to objects, better covered with black veils for safety, otherwise, they deserve whatever happens to them (a classic example is the case of a raped woman who became pregnant – she was given a prison sentence for extramarital sex.)” (2017)


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