State of Qatar

What you see in Qatar today may be a different scene tomorrow, such is the speed of change in this small Gulf state of over a million people. Exploring both old and new Doha is a fascinating experience.

Qatar is situated halfway along the western coast of the Arabian Gulf. It is a peninsula, projecting northwards about 160 km into the Gulf. At its widest point it stretches about 80 km from coast to coast and covers an area of 11,437 square km. Overall, the country is very flat, rising to only 110 metres at its highest point; the landmass largely consists of scrubby desert terrain covered in sand and loose gravel.

The country is largely formed of limestone deposits and clays, laid down in various geologically defined eras.

By far the majority of the country is surrounded by the waters of the Arabian Gulf. The coastline of Qatar extends for some 560 km, while the only land border of 60 km separates the country from Saudi Arabia. There are several shallow natural harbors - Doha, Wakrah and Messaieed being the most notable of these.

Time Zone (Location)

Qatar lies in the time zone Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) + 3. Depending on our system, they are five-and-a-half or six-and-a-half hours earlier than Newfoundland time (GMT -3.5). Qatar does not have Daylight Saving Time.

Language

The official language is Arabic, and English is widely spoken in most environments.

Population

The total population of Qatar is approximately 2 million and is currently increasing at a rapid rateannually. It is estimated that 80 per cent of the population of Qatar lives in Doha. Most of the workforce in Qatar is made up of expatriates (expats), nationals of other countries who have come to work in Qatar from Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and other Middle Eastern countries. Approximately 278,000 of Doha's population are Qataris, all others are expatriates.

Working Days and Hours

Rest days for CNA-Q are Friday and Saturday. Business hours during the week vary from company to company within Qatar, although government offices and banks tend to open only in the morning to early afternoon. 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 and stay open until 10pm.

The Flag

The flag of Qatar is Maroon with a broad white serrated band (nine white points) on the hoist side; maroon represents the blood shed in Qatari wars, white stands for peace; the nine-pointed serrated edge signifies Qatar as the ninth member of the "reconciled emirates" in the wake of the Qatari-British treaty of 1916.

Riyal notes and Dirham coins used in Qatar.

Currency

Legal tender in Qatar is the Qatari Riyal (QAR). 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.

Golfing at the Doha Golf Club is a year-round activity - except when it's too hot!

Weather

Since most of the country is a desert, it is prone to sandstorms. The temperature starts to heat up from March onwards and progressively rise to 40 celcius in April. The summer months June to September is when Qatar is at its hottest with temperatures soaring to over 50 celcius when combined with humidity. It is extremely hot during the day, while the nights are warm, and not as extreme as the day conditions. On the bright side air conditioning is as much a blessing to Qatar as central heating is to Canada. The temperature starts to drop from October onwards with December through to February being cold enough for some Canadians to bring out the heaters. Winter is the time, when Qatar receives little rainfall with the occasional electric and thunderstorms. In other seasons, there is almost no rainfall. Autumn and spring in the country is dry and warm.

Crime

Crime in Doha is minimal compared to many other large cities in the world. The Government of Qatar maintains a large number of police and plain-clothes Criminal Investigation Division (CID) units on the street. While incidents of street crime are rare, they do take place. Incidents of items being stolen from vehicles are increasing but are still low. Qatar has a very low incidence of females being accosted or verbally harassed but this does take place. If you are dressed conservatively and do not walk alone after dark, it is unlikely that this will happen. If it does happen, do not hesitate to call the police (999). The act of dialing your mobile may be enough to stop the behavior.