Time: Qatar is 3 hours ahead of GMT.
Area: 11,000 square kilometres
Currency: 1 Qatari Riyal = USD 0.27 = EUR 0.25 = QBP 0.21
Population (2016): Above 2,5 million, less than 15% is Qatari
Language Arabic, English is widely spoken.
Qatar is about 160 kilometers long and between 55 and 90 km wide with a total area of 11,437 sq.km. It borders Saudi Arabia to the south, and its nearest neighbors are the small island of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (including Abu Dhabi and Dubai). Across the Gulf is Iran.
Qatar has a moderate desert climate. The winter season (November until April) is mild and pleasant with temperatures rarely falling below 11 degrees Celsius. At the height of summer the temperature can go up to 46+ degrees during the day – with high humidity in and around the coast. During summer air conditioning makes it bearable and people go outside when the sun is down.
Rainfall averages a low 75mm per year, falling usually between October and March. Shamals (sandstorms) can occur at any time throughout the year, usually when the weather changes.
Qatar is an absolute monarchy ruled by the Al Thani family. Since 2013 Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani is the ruling Emir. Qatar’s population is above 2.5 million people of which less than 15% is Qatari. The Qataris are mainly Sunni Muslims. Islam is the official religion, and Islamic jurisprudence is the basis of Qatar's legal system. More than 85% of Qatar’s population is comprised of foreign workers with a temporary residence status. Large nationality groups are: Indian, Nepali, Filipino, Egyptians, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan. More than 70% of the population is male.
Qatar was known for pearl hunting and sea trade before the discovery of oil. Qatar has the third largest natural gas reserve in the world and one of the richest countries per capita. The country has seen a steep growth of its economy and a rapid increase of its population in the last 10-15 years. Qatar National Vision 2030 is a roadmap to the future and lays out the long-term sustainability framework plan for Qatar’s growth, as it moves to diversify its economy beyond the oil and gas sector.
The majority of Qataris are Sunni Muslims. Qatar respects other religions but expects non-Muslim residents to respect the laws and culture of the country, especially in regard to standard of dress and behaviour in public. While Islam is the state religion in Qatar, the government’s policy on religious tolerance has allowed the setting up of several places of Christian worship.
Qatar’s culture is very much based on Islamic tradition. Islam is more than a religion it is a way of life that influences day to day living, from what Muslims wear to what they eat and drink. Qatar is a fairly tolerant and welcoming country, with few restrictions placed on foreigners living or visiting. Women are able to drive and walk around unescorted, and alcohol is available in licensed hotels and a few other establishments. Among the most highly prized virtues of Islam are courtesy and hospitality, and visitors are sure to be charmed by the genuine warmth and friendliness of the local people.
Women should dress modestly, covering knees and shoulders/upper arm and avoiding tight fitting clothes. During the holy month of Ramadhan, clothing should be even more modest. Children from the age of puberty onwards should be dressed as above. Younger children are free to wear what they like.