Information and advice you will need for moving to Qatar
The currency in Qatar is the Qatari Riyal (QAR). The Qatari Riyal is stable against the British Pound but it is worth checking the exchange rate. The best rates of exchange are usually found at banks and currency dealers on Grand Hamad Street in Doha. Try to avoid changing money at the airport or in hotels. Qatari Riyal banknotes come in denominations of 500, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1.
The Qatari National Bank has the largest ATM network in Qatar and its ATMs give you access to a wide range of services. Bank opening hours are 7.30am to 11.30am Saturday to Thursday.
High-speed broadband is widely available in Qatar, as is free WiFi, including in a large number of public places. To have the internet at home, you must have a resident permit. The international dialling code for Qatar is 00 974. To dial the UK from Qatar, the code is 00 44.
The clocks in Qatar are set according to Arabia Standard Time, which is GMT +3 hours. The weekend is Friday and Saturday.
Qatar has a desert climate. The Qatari summer is May to October, during which time temperatures generally exceed 35°C (95°F). June to August is known as high summer, when temperatures regularly reach 45°C (113°F). Night-time temperatures can fall to around 15°C (59°F) between December and March, while between April and November, temperatures rarely fall below 20°C (68°F). During high summer, night-time temperatures of 25-30°C (77-86°F) are common. What little rainfall occurs in Qatar usually takes the form of occasional downpours between December and April.
Dress and etiquette
Qatar is a conservative Muslim country and you should dress accordingly. Dress modestly, particularly when in public. Women should wear dresses or skirts that cover their knees and tops with long sleeves – shoulders should be covered at all times. In addition, clothing should not be too tight or revealing. Men should wear trousers and tops with long sleeves – you should not wear t-shirts and shorts. Men should never be seen bare-chested in public. Do not wear swimwear away from the beach or hotel pool.
Qatar is not a dry country, however, where you can buy and drink alcohol is strictly controlled. Five-star hotels and members-only clubs usually have licenses to serve alcohol, and drinking at home is possible. With employer permission you can apply for a permit to shop in the country’s only off-licence, QDC. There is a limit to what you can spend in the QDC: 10% of your basic monthly salary. The legal drinking age is 21.
Men and women can drive in Qatar. Vehicles are driven on the right. Driving conditions can be challenging. Once you arrive, you can use your UK driving licence for a week, after which you will need an international driving licence, which is valid for six months. This licence becomes invalid as soon as you receive your resident permit, at which point you will need a Qatari driving licence. Qatar has a zero-tolerance approach to drink driving.
Free emergency healthcare is available in Qatar. Waiting times for non-emergency treatments can be long. Private health insurance is a common choice for expats. Some prescribed and over-the-counter medicines may be controlled medicines in Qatar. Check with your doctor and, if you need to bring a controlled medicine into the country, ensure you carry a doctor’s note.
The education system is expanding but schools in Qatar are oversubscribed, so it is advisable to apply for places as soon as possible. There are British-curriculum schools in Qatar, annual fees for which range from around £5,300 to £9,000, excluding the one-off registration fee (around £400).
The number to call for police, ambulance and fire services is the same as in the UK: 999.
An exit visa is required to leave Qatar and employer permission is required to obtain one. However, wives and children can leave without an exit visa.