What sets Qatar apart from its neighbours in the Emirates is its relatively undeveloped tourism infrastructure. However, it has no intention of falling too far behind the well-known resort city of Dubai. Some resorts already exist in Qatar and others are in the pipeline. The country is a lot more advanced when it comes to preserving its culture. Although the destination is still mostly visited by business men or Gulf expatriates, tourists should travel to Qatar if for a holiday in the Emirates, because it offers a particular blend of architectural modernity and Islamic tradition.
Surface area : 319.1 km2
Population : 1696563 inhabitants
There is no tax on objects. You can buy luxuries, any variety of tobacco, electrical or electronic appliances at very reasonable prices. In the old souk, there is little handicraft, mostly copper utensils. Check out the finely embroidered clothes and exotic spices, fabrics or rugs. The famous Qatar pearls are affordable to wealthy travellers. They truly are worshipped here. Shops are open from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm and from about 3:30 pm to 7:00 pm, some large stores remain open until midnight. Friday is a public holiday.
Traditional cuisine is based on mutton or grilled chicken, fried fish, rice and salad. Meals are served with tea or fruit juice. The coffee ceremony, flavoured with cardamom and always served boiling hot, is one of the particularities of the Gulf regions. Drinking water comes from sea water desalination factories. It is fine to drink but the taste is not very pleasant. If you are staying with a family, make sure to eat with your right hand only, in accordance with Muslim tradition. Beware, alcohol consumption is only authorised in major hotels.
During the month of Ramadan, it is prohibited to drink, eat and smoke on the streets. The hotels however remain open and it is possible to eat there. There are more restrictions concerning alcohol consumption: you can only drink what you find in the mini-bar, inside your hotel room.