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Post by Admin on Thu Sep 18, 2008 11:06 am

1) State of Qatar

Area: approximately 11,437 sq km including a number of islands
Population: approximately 800,000
Capital: Doha (80% of population)
Head of State: Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani (came to power in 1995)
Religion: Islam
Language Arabic
Currency: Qatari Riyal, divided into 100 Dirhams
Qatar, situated half way up the western coast of the Arabian Gulf, is a peninsula 260 km long, surrounded by sea to the west, north and east and bordering Saudi Arabia to the south. The land is arid with rock strewn sandy and flat plains, relieved by sand dunes in the south and east and low hills and ridges in the west. The economy of Qatar is dominated by oil and natural gas, which accounts for 70% of export income. Oil and gas revenues have been used to diversify the economy, including the development of chemicals, steel, cement and fertiliser industries and banking.
2) History
There is evidence of human habitation in Qatar as early as the 5th or 6th centuries BC. The Greek historian, Herodotus, refers to the seafaring Canaanites as the original inhabitants of Qatar. The ancient geographer, Ptolemy, showed in his map of the Arab world a town believed to be the present Qatari town of Zubarah. Danish, French and British expeditions have discovered inscriptions, rock carvings and fine pottery in the peninsula.
Qatar embraced Islam in the middle of the 7th century A.D. and since that time, it has been noticed regularly in the accounts of Arab historians and writers. The country was famed for its fine striped woven cloaks, known as Qatari cloaks, and for the excellence of spears made in the country.
Qatar was ruled by Bahrain from the 1700s until the mid-1800s when Great Britain and the Ottoman Empire began vying for control of the peninsula. It was a British protectorate from 1916 until 1971, when it became independent. In the 1980s and 90s Qatar had territorial disputes with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. During the Gulf War (1991) international coalition forces were deployed on Qatari soil. The present emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, came to power in 1995 after ousting his father. In the late 1990s Sheikh Hamad eased press censorship and promoted ties with Iran and Israel.
3) Climate
The climate in Qatar is very pleasant from October to April, with temperatures in the teens and upper 20s centigrade. The summer months, however, become furnace-like, with 40º to 50ºc shade temperature the norm during the day and not much cooler at night. Qatar does not experience the oppressive, continual, high humidity found in other Gulf countries, and for most of time the air is reasonably dry. There are also sandstorms in midsummer, and it is not unknown for there to be sudden rain and electrical storms, with thunder, lightning and localised torrential downpours. There is a real rainy season when Qatar can expect to catch the tail end of the Asian monsoons. These two periods are November/December and February/March. The second period tends to be more predictable but either period may not occur at all. The rain may be fleeting and localised or even heavy and widespread for days. It is still the case that business more or less shuts down for the summer between mid-July and mid-September, as most locals retreat to cooler climes although these days more and more companies maintain a year-round working presence.
4) Travel to Qatar
On arrival at Doha International Airport visitors are required to complete immigration formalities. Many nationalities can receive a visa on arrival but others still need to get a visa before departure from their home country. Prohibited imports include liquor, pork, pornographic literature and "dangerous material".
The local and European airlines that serve Qatar with flights from European starting points are Qatar Airways (flies non-stop from both London and Manchester), British Airways, Emirates and KLM.

Qatar Airways www.qatarairways.com

British Airways www.britishairways.com

Emirates www.emirates.com

KLM www.klm.com

5) Currency
The unit of currency is the Riyal which is divided into 100 Dirhams. The following denominations are in circulation.
Notes 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 riyals
Coins 25, 50 dirhams
The exchange rate currently is around 7.25 Qatar riyals to £1.00. Credit cards are accepted in banks and the majority of shops; all hotels and travel agents will accept international credit cards in payment of bills. There are no exchange control restrictions at present. There are several major commercial banks in Qatar; the majority of these are situated close to each other in the area near the Corniche.
6) Health
Qatar, generally is a fairly healthy place. There are no endemic diseases such as yellow fever. It is safe to drink water from the tap and bottled water is readily available. Tap water though biologically safe is not particularly pleasant since it is desalinated, most minerals have been removed. Medical and dental treatment are free at Government Health Centres and at the Hamad General Hospital a fee is now charged for a consultation with a doctor and also for prescriptions. There are several private doctors and dentists practising in Qatar.

Hospitals and clinics
Hamad Hospital + 974 4394444
HMC Accident and Emergency + 974 4392222
American Hospital + 974 4421999
Qatar Medical Centre + 974 4440606
Doha Clinic Hospital + 974 4384333
Doha Dental Centre + 974 4675225
Family Dental Clinic + 974 4666227

7) Country and people
It is estimated that about twenty five percent of the total population of 800,000 are Qataris. The Al Thanis have been the ruling family for over 100 years and the present ruler, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani assumed power as the Emir of Qatar on 27 June 1995, with the support of the ruling family and the people of Qatar. The independent state has huge energy resources including what is estimated to be one of the biggest natural gas fields in the world.
Islam is the state religion of Qatar and most Qataris belong to the strictly orthodox Wahabi sect. No other religion is officially permitted in Qatar.
Doha is the centre of government and commerce, and is by far the largest town. It is a spacious and relatively well-planned city with much construction work in evidence.
Cool Electricity
The electricity supply is 220 - 240 volts, 50 cycles AC.
9) Working hours
Government offices work from 7.00 am to 1.00 pm Saturday to Thursday; banks are open from 7.30 am to 1.00 am Saturday to Thursday. Shops and businesses offering a service normally close at noon and open again in the afternoon/evening. Many people get a two - day weekend: Friday and Saturday.
10) Local time
GMT plus 3 hours in winter
11) Academic terms
English-speaking schools follow the British system with three terms, and the longest break during the summer. Qatar University and government schools have two semesters a year with a two-week break starting around mid-January. The summer holiday runs from mid-June with teachers reporting for work in September.
12) Hotels
The main hotels in Doha are:-

Hotel Intercontinental + 974 4484444 in West Bay
The Ritz Carlton + 974 4848000 in West Bay
Doha Marriott Gulf Hotel + 974 4495401 on the seafront favoured by businessmen
Sheraton Doha Hotel & Resort + 974 4854444 on Corniche
Ramada Hotel + 974 4417417 in a central area of town
Sealine Beach Resort (Messaieed) + 974 4772722 in Messaieed (30 kms south of Doha)
Sofitel Hotel + 974 4462222 in the old town centre
Movenpick Hotel + 974 4291111 on Corniche
The Oasis Hotel & Beach Club + 974 4424424 on the seafront
Grand Regency Hotel (this hotel does not have a liquour license) + 974 4343333 in a central area of town
Millennium Hotel (this hotel does not have a liquour license) + 974 4247777 in a central area of town

13) Restaurants
All major hotels have good restaurants offering buffets and now serve alcohol for guests and non-guests. Local ethnic restaurants are well worth a visit (Indian: Garden, Welcome (Kharaba St area) and Bukhara (al Khalifa Stadium complex); Iranian: Shebistan Palace (al Saad St); Qatari: Balhamber on the Corniche). Across from the Ramada Hotel is 'Cholesterol Corner' with more American fast food outlets than you can possibly name. The large shopping mall known as City Centre near the Sheraton has local and even more US fast food outlets, 3rd floor. Moon Palace on al Merkab St. is popular with ex-pats and serves authentic Korean and Japanese food.
14) Post
Airmail letters to Europe take 3-6 days. An airmail letter form or a postcard to Britain costs 3 riyals, a letter 6 riyals for 21 grammes. The postal service is generally good. Excellent courier services exist and the major courier companies as well as the Mumtaz post operates in the country.
15) Clothing
Qatar is, as we have noted, a conservative, Islamic country and this is reflected in its dress codes - both for men and women. No-one is expected to be covered at all times from head to toe, but all should display modesty and decency in their style of dress. This is largely a question of common sense. For men, avoid shorts and vests except in the appropriate sporting arenas. Trousers, slacks, jeans, etc, are fine. Shirts, please, except on the beach or by the pool. As for women, wear below the knee skirts and dresses and avoid showing your shoulders.
16) Taxis
There are numerous local taxis in Doha, the older taxis are easily recognisable by their orange and white colour, and the new taxis by their turquoise colour. There is no collection point, so it is necessary to flag one down. All taxis are metered. The average in town journey costs between QR5.00 and QR10.00.
The chauffeur-driven Doha limousine is another option. These are slightly more luxurious cars can be ordered by telephone although the charges are higher. They can be contacted on the following numbers:-

Doha Limousine + 974 4839999
Fox Transport + 974 4622777
Karwa + 974 4588888

17) Telephones
Local land line calls are free, and international calls to most countries can be dialled direct.
18) Alcohol
When dining in hotels only. some hotels do not have a liquour licence.
19) Photography
Care must be exercised when taking photographs. Photography of public buildings should be avoided. Permission to photograph people should always be sought.
20) Shopping
Qatar now has numerous shopping malls offering every kind of service from food to clothing and entertainment. Some of which are the Lulu Centre, the Mall, the Land Mark Centre, City Centre and Villagio. The normal opening hours for the malls are:-

Saturday - Thursday 1000 - 1000
Friday 1630 - 1000
The majority of shops will accept major credit cards.
21) Sightseeing
The place to start is the Corniche. This seven kilometre semi circular delight, stretches right from the Ras Abu Aboud flyover near the airport to the pyramid-shaped Sheraton Hotel. It is paved and landscaped and is hugely popular with a complete cross-section of Doha's inhabitants. The entire Corniche, gardens and buildings are filled with displays and lights during the Eid holidays.
Other places of interest are as follows:

Qatar National Museum
Al Koot Fort
Al Bida Park

Further afield:
Sealine Beach Resort
Inland Sea
21) Security
For travel advice to Qatar please check FCO Travel advice.
22) Useful telephone numbers:-
British Council + 974 4251 888
British Embassy + 974 4421990/1/2/3
Police 999
Hamad Hospital + 974 4394444
Qatar Airways reservations + 974 4496666/4496111
British Airways reservations + 974 4321538
Fire 999
Speaking clock + 974 4695500
Directory enquiries 180
International operator 150

23) British Council
The British Council Office is situated at 93 Al Sadd Street opposite Tivoli Furniture.

Sunday to Thursday
Office hours 0800 - 2000
Examinations 0800 - 2000

Telephone Number + 974 4251 888
Fax Number + 974 4423315


Posts : 66
Join date : 2008-09-18

View user profile http://hornby-doha.yoo7.com

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