Debit and credit cards are widely used in Qatar and ATM machines are at all major locations. There is also a Qatar National Bank ATM machine at UDST in Building 3. Keep in mind that foreign debit cards do not necessarily work in all ATM machines. This varies based on your bank.

There may be daily service charges and limits on how much you can withdraw per day from an overseas bank account - check with your service provider before you depart for your trip.



There are numerous banks to choose from to open a Qatar bank account. The bank requirements are minimal with some banks asking for a letter from your employer, a copy your passport and Qatar residence permit. In the instance where the residence permit is under process, a copy of the work visa and passport will usually suffice.

There are 100 Dirhams in one Riyal. The paper money includes both English and Arabic and is a different size and color. The denominations include 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 QR. While coins exist for smaller denominations, they are not in wide circulation in Qatar. For up to date exchange rates with other currencies, please refer to a currency converter online, such as http://www.xe.com/ucc/.


Mobile phones are very popular in Qatar - some students have two or three of them. You will find it quickly becomes your best source for telephone numbers. And if you miss a phone call, you shouldn't hesitate to call the number back to inquire. Keep in mind that voice mail is not a standard feature on mobile phones in Qatar, so you will not necessarily be able to leave voice messages. SMS texting tends to be the substitute.

Upon arrival you will receive a basic mobile (cell phone) from the university with a prepaid credit (Hala) Card from the university. You can purchase additional Hala cards at convenience stores/public vendors.

Calling Qatar from Abroad

To call Qatar from your home country dial 00974 plus the required eight numbers. To call your home country from Qatar, dial 00 plus your country code then the area code and required numbers.

Caller Information

To obtain telephone numbers of Emergency Services, Public Services, Hospitals and other imp numbers in Qatar, both in Arabic and English, call 180 for directory assistance.


Luxury duty free shopping at the Doha International Airport.

Typically, most malls in Doha are open from 10am - 10pm Saturday through Thursday. Most will be closed on Friday mornings but will open up during the evening, when they'll be the most crowded. Also, be aware that some malls schedule "Family Days", where single men will be turned away at the door. These air-conditioned malls are spacious, well-decorated and a welcome refuge from the heat outdoors. Most have cafes, fast food outlets, food courts, restaurants, cineplexes, childrens areas and amusement arcades.

There are also several other smaller plazas and complexes, supermarkets, and local co-operative societies and shopping complexes in many residential areas of Qatar that selling pretty much everything except pork.

Traditional wares for sale in Souq Waqif.

Shopping in Doha - Souqs and Markets

Souks (Arabic markets) are a feature of life in the Gulf and are fun to visit for their novelty value, as well as being useful places to shop for certain items.

Bargaining is a good-natured affair and can be fun, if you've got the patience to go along with it. Bargaining does not apply to all retail outlets in Qatar, however, and it is best to define this at the outset. Many of the more modern shops, especially food outlets, deal only in fixed prices.


There are three English daily papers in Qatar: the Gulf Times, The Peninsula and the Qatar Tribune. All three of these newspapers are available for home delivery. The Gulf Times and The Peninsula are also available online.

grocery stores

Food products are imported from Canada, America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand as well as the Far East. Fresh fish, meats, fruits, and vegetables are plentiful. Like any other country, you will find the corner shops in some suburbs as well as the "sidra" Convenience Stores which are usually located in the vicinity of the petrol filling station.

Dining out in qatar

There is no shortage of places to dine out in Qatar. The variety of types of food is unlimited - Arabic, Indian, French, Moroccan, Japanese, Pakistani, Thai, Italian, Chinese, general European and American to name a few. And many of the Western fast food outlets are found in Doha as well - Dairy Queen, Tim Hortons, Krispy Kremes, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Chili's, Applebees, Red Lobster, Ponderosa and more. You can dine in a bargain establishment or a first-class hotel.

Friday brunches are a favourite with expats as the majority of shops don't open until the evening. Most of the top hotels do a wine or champagne inclusive brunch and along with fresh lobster, giant prawns and chocolate fondue fountains they really must be seen to be believed. A Friday brunch is not something to be rushed as there are so many delicious dishes to try, if you have children take them along as many of the hotels have a supervised children's play area. Some of the more popular hotels are the Four Seasons, InterContinental, Marriott, Movenpick, Sharq Village, Sheraton and The Ritz-Carlton.

You are encouraged to try the local foods. Doha has countless cheap, cheerful and clean restaurants that serve quality food. And some of them provide curbside service usually by attracting the server with a wave.

Once you try Arabic food, you'll quickly find favourites.

Specialties include:

Homous: A dip made from chick-peas and tahini (sesame seed paste).

Tabbouleh: Chopped parsley, mint and crushed wheat.

Motabel: Lightly cooked eggplants mixed with tahini and garlic and made into a paste.

Waraq enab: Wine leaves stuffed with rice.

Koussa mahshi: Stuffed baby zucchini.

Local dishes include:

Matchboos: Spiced lamb or chicken with rice.

Harees: A rich delicacy of wheat and tender lamb cooked and beaten until it has the texture of a thick paste. Usually served during the month of Ramadan.

Seafood: You will enjoy fresh fish from the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, including lobster, cigale, crab, hamour (grouper), shrimp, tuna, kingfish, pomfret and red snapper.

Ghuzi: A whole roast lamb on a bed of rice mixed with nuts.

Biriani:V ery sweet-smelling spiced rice mixed with lamb or chicken.

Delicious regional desserts include:

Umm Ali (literally "Mother of Ali"):A type of bread pudding that is full of nuts and white raisins.

Esh Aaraya (meaning "bread of the harem"):A sweet kind of cheesecake with a cream topping.

Mehalabiya:A pudding sprinkled with rose water and pistachios.

Traditional Snacks

A traditional and very delicious Middle Eastern snack is the shawarma, which is sold at many small outlets around Doha. It consists of grilled slices of delicately spiced lamb, chicken or beef, mixed with salad and tahini (mixed with lime juice), with some pickles and/or French fries thrown in and rolled inside a pocket of Arabic bread then wrapped in a wafer thin paper.

fun in the sand


For an exhilarating and dizzying experience, dunebashing in Qatar is the answer. Khor Al Udeid boasts some impressive dunes reaching 50 meters in height. Ascending and descending on these seemingly vertical sand walls is sure to cause even the most brave to whimper. No doubt the best way to experience. Dunebashing is with an experienced driver. Read more on dune bashing here.