Life in Qatar

Work, study, or visit—anything you do in Qatar will make you experience a vibrant community working together to drive this country toward new, exciting heights.

Introduction

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Life in Qatar is a unique fusion of modernity and cultural tradition. While our cities beat with the latest features and infrastructure—all working toward advancing the nation into a modern up-and-coming global hub—you can still find our heritage, traditions, and culture at the heart of everything we do, and in every detail of your surroundings.

What does that fusion look like day-to-day? It means being able to work in a cutting-edge urban facility, while spending the weekend dune bashing in Qatar’s breathtaking deserts and camping under a starry night sky. You don’t even need to go that far to do so; most major destinations are an hour’s drive from Education City.

Something for Everyone

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Doha is a city of tomorrow, built for today. Here’s what makes it stand out.

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A convenient lifestyle

Life in Qatar is one based around comfort and convenience. It is one of the safest countries to live in the world and has the highest-ranked healthcare system in the Middle East, which every resident can utilize. Residents of Qatar enjoy a high standard of living, with a variety of facilities guaranteeing their wellbeing and safety, including modern medical facilities, luxurious accommodation, and efficient welfare services.

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A cosmopolitan capital

The people of Doha exemplify deeply rooted traditions and values of collaboration, compassion, tolerance, and mercy. Expats from outside of Qatar form a majority of the population, joining the small local population in sharing the vision of transforming the country. In a society that welcomes people from different countries, cultures, and religions, acceptance and support are our priorities to ensure everyone feels at home.

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A pathway to the world

Qatar is strategically located at the heart of one of the world’s most prosperous and rapidly developing regions, and is conveniently situated at the crossroads of Asia, Europe, and Africa. Whether you are traveling for business, family, or leisure, you will have easy access to the world through our award-winning Hamad International Airport, which is also home to Qatar Airways, one of the world’s fastest growing airline networks.

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A land of opportunity

Qatar is a country in motion, where new advances and expansions yield new opportunities every day. With Qatar National Vision 2030 directing the country’s path to development, some of the world’s most ambitious projects are being undertaken in Doha, such as the Middle East’s first FIFA World Cup kicking off in Qatar in 2022.

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A modern hub for culture and tradition

Embracing global modernity while championing local art and culture go hand-in-hand in Qatar. We house different cultural and artistic establishments like museums, art galleries, and music and heritage centers, which not only exhibit Qatari history and Islamic tradition, but foster a curiosity for art and creativity among all.

Our Traditions

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Have a look at some of our country’s guiding traditions.

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In Qatar, Kahwa (coffee) plays a special role as a symbolic expression of welcome. Even the pot itself, with its characteristic shape, has come to depict hospitality. Freshly ground and flavored with cardamom, the coffee is served in tiny cups with no handles, which should be taken with the right hand. The server will continue to replenish the cup until you signal you have had enough by shaking it gently from side to side.

Henna, a natural reddish brown dye derived from powdered leaves, has been used by Qatari women for cosmetic purposes for hundreds of years. It is still widely used today to decorate the skin with beautiful intricate patterns, especially for occasions such as weddings and other celebrations, and as a hair dye.

Arda is a popular folk dance performed by men, involving synchronized movements in time with music played on traditional hand-held drums. Conducted with a certain formality and dignity, the dancers carry swords and wear cross-belts, reflecting the Arda’s origins as a war dance. Today, it is usually performed at weddings and other communal celebrations.

Pearl diving was one of the main sources of livelihood for Qataris for many generations before the discovery of oil. The waters around the peninsula produced pearls of the finest quality and the people of the coastal settlements became adept at the arduous work of harvesting the oyster shells from the seabed. The industry faded with the advent of artificial pearls.

Arabic calligraphy is a highly venerated art form in Qatar and other Islamic countries. It involves beautiful, decorative penmanship, often featuring passages from the Holy Qur’an. Examples of fine calligraphy can be seen in many forms in modern-day Qatar on paper, tiles, carpets, wall hangings, and carved inscriptions.

Gypsum has traditionally been used widely for construction and architectural decoration. A soft mineral, it can be easily carved and moulded by skilled craftsmen. It is found naturally in Qatar, giving rise to such geological phenomena as ‘desert roses’ and deep caves.

The majlis, a place set aside for welcoming visitors with coffee and refreshments, plays a central role in the legendary hospitality of traditional Arab society. Traveling strangers have always been welcome to share food and drink. The hospitality of the majlis lives on in modern day Qatar.

The ancient sport of falconry is enthusiastically pursued by many Qataris during the winter hunting season. Much time and care is devoted to training young falcons so as to create a close bond between the hunter and his cherished bird. The prey of choice is the houbara bustard as it migrates south for winter.

Oud and Bukhoor are forms of incense that are popular in Qatar and throughout the region. Made from wood scented with fragrant oils, it is burned in a special incense burner called a ‘mabkhara’ to produce a rich smoke to perfume the home and clothing. Visitors are often invited to waft the aroma around themselves as a form of hospitality.

Sadu is an ancient handicraft practiced by the women of Qatar, involving the weaving of camel and goat hair to make traditional Bedouin carpets, tents, and pillows. They use a manual weaving device made of wood, called ‘Al-Nool.’

Qatar has a rich camel racing and equestrian heritage. The tradition is woven into the very fabric of Qatar, with national and international events organized regularly to celebrate the sport. The country is known for its prized Arabian horses, many of whom are purebred at Qatar Foundation’s Al Shaqab.

Attractions

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Have a look at some of our country’s leading attractions.

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Katara Cultural Village, an innovative interpretation of the region’s architectural heritage, is a purpose-built development with impressive theatres, galleries, and performance venues that stage a lively year-round program of concerts, shows, and exhibitions.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Al Zubarah includes three major features, the largest of which are the archaeological remains of the town, dating back to the 1760s. Connected to it is the settlement of Qal’at Murair, which was fortified to protect the city’s inland wells. Al Zubarah Fort was built in 1938 and is the youngest, most prominent feature at the site.

A seven-kilometer long waterfront promenade that spans the entire length of Doha Bay, the Doha Corniche offers spectacular vistas of the city, from the dramatic high rise towers of the central business district to the bold shapes of the Museum of Islamic Art. Traditional wooden dhows lining the Bay evoke echoes of Qatar’s great seafaring past.

A stroll down the bustling alleys of Souq Waqif provides an authentic taste of traditional commerce, architecture, and culture. The maze of small shops offer a dazzling array of Middle Eastern merchandise from spices and seasonal delicacies such as fresh dates and nuts, to perfumes, ornate jewellery, clothing, handicrafts, and a treasure trove of souvenir bargains.

The Pearl-Qatar is a man-made island off the West Bay coast featuring Mediterranean-style yacht-lined marinas, upmarket residential towers, villas, and internationally renowned hotels, as well as luxury shopping at top brand name boutiques and showrooms.

One of architect IM Pei’s final designs, the Museum of Islamic Art is one of the leading collections of Islamic art in the world. Its award-winning collections include feature paintings, glassworks, metalwork, ceramics, textiles, and manuscripts.

Set to open in 2019, the National Museum of Qatar is a museum dedicated to interlocking Qatar’s past and celebrating the culture and future of Qatar. The museum extends along 11 chronologically arranged galleries, beginning with an exhibition on natural history and going all the way to galleries about Qatar as a modern state.

FAQs

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Questions about life in Qatar

  • Q:What is the public transportation system in Qatar like?
    A:

    Mowasalat is the transport company, and they run buses throughout most of Doha. However, they are often crowded and not as frequent as they may be in your home country. It can also be uncomfortable waiting in the sun during the summer months. Most QF staff prefer other methods of transportation. You can find more information on routes, fares, and schedules on their website: www.mowasalat.com

    The Doha Metro is currently under construction. The metro system will be built in two phases: the first will see the construction of three out of the four lines (Red, Gold, and Green) and 37 stations. These lines are expected to be open to the public by 2020. The future phases involve the introduction of an additional line (Blue) and the expansion of the existing ones, with more than 60 additional stations and the first expansion will be completed by 2026.

  • Q:Are there any recreational activities in Doha?
    A:

    There are many recreational facilities and health fitness centers in Doha. Many hotels have health and wellness classes open to the public such as aerobics, fitness classes, gyms, spa treatments, yoga, and Pilates. There are also many sports and sporting associations such as bowling, baseball, basketball, cycling, fencing, hockey, golf, and equestrian sports. Comedy, dancing, drama, and music are also some of the things that you can get involved with while in Doha. Major events are happening around the year in some of the major cultural hubs of the country in places like Katara, The Pearl, and the West Bay.

    Learn more about Life in Qatar.

  • Q:What is the weather like in Qatar?
    A:

    The weather is generally pleasant in winter, and hot and humid during the summer. Winter daytime temperatures average 20-35 degrees Celsius (68-95 degrees Fahrenheit), although nights can be relatively cool. You will need to wear a sweater or a light coat during the winter. In summer, the temperature gets as high as 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit).

  • Q:What is the dress code in Qatar?
    A:

    Qatar is an Islamic country and visitors and expats are expected to be respectful of the traditions of the state. Qataris generally wear the national dress of abayas and thobes. In accordance with local culture and customs, residents are requested to wear modest clothing that covers your shoulder and knees.

  • Q:Can I use my existing driving license in Qatar?
    A:

    If arriving in Qatar on a visitor’s visa, it is possible to use a national license from any country to drive a car for seven days, provided it is a rental vehicle. A driver who holds an International Driving Permit (IDP) may drive a rental vehicle for up to six months—or until the visa status changes from visitor to resident. The license from the home country must be available for inspection.

  • Q:What are Qatar’s national holidays?
    A:

    National holidays include National Sport Day (the second Tuesday in February) and Qatar National Day (18 December). We also provide working holidays during the two Eids. The exact dates of the Eids vary depending on the year, but are normally both 4-5 working days in length.

Events

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There’s always something to do in Qatar.