Qatar grants tourist visas at border points for the nationals of more than 33 countries including USA, Canada, Iceland, West European countries, some East European countries, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Brunei, Australia and New Zealand, besides the nationals of the GCC countries. The passport section at Doha international airport can issue renewable 14-day tourist visas in 24 hours for all visitors to Qatar with some exceptions. Nationals of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman) and British passport holders who are UK residents do not need a visa to enter Qatar. It is important to note: if your passport has an Israeli stamp, you will be denied entry.
The big hotels in Doha arrange either tourist or business visas for their guests, usually on the condition that you stay in the hotel for the duration of your visit, and are willing to surrender your passport to the hotel during your stay. In order to get a visa, contact the hotel with your passport details, reason for visit, arrival and departure dates and your flight information. The flight information is extremely important as the visa will be collected by you on your arrival at the airport. Normally, it takes about a week to process visa requests. Once you have contacted the hotel, you should receive a fax or telex acknowledging receipt of your reservation and quoting your visa number. Upon arrival at Doha airport, go to the window where visa forms are distributed. Once you have the form, get into the passport control line as you would anywhere else. The Immigration Officer will complete the process for you. A tourist visa is valid for 14 days and currently costs QR105. Business visas for 7 days cost QR120. If you have not already paid the visa fee, you must do so at the airport when you arrive. There is a bank next to the visa desk. Both types of visas can be easily extended for a small price. Tourist visas can be extended for an additional 14 days and business ones for another 7. The renewal is handled by the hotel or company acting as your sponsor.
Qatar enjoys sunshine just about everyday of the year. The average temperatures during the summer range from 38A^?C to 42A^?C during the day and 18A^?C at night, while winter temperatures are 34A^?C during the day and 10A^?C at night.
The official currency is the Qatari Riyal (QR), which divides into 100 Dirhams. Banknote denominations include 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500. Coins are 25 and 50 dirhams. The Riyal exchange rate is pegged to the US Dollar at QR 3.65. Major banks in Qatar have their main branches on Grand Hamad Street and their other branches spread around Doha and other major cities. ATM machines are available in main streets, bank branches, shopping complexes and big companies. Most shopping complexes accept international credit cards.
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Offices and shops are usually open from 8:00am to noon and reopen again in the afternoon from 4:00 or 5:00 to 7:00 or later. The shopping malls stay open until 9:00 or 10:00pm. Friday is the weekly holiday, with many businesses working only a half day on Thursday. Embassies and government offices are closed on Thursday.
The mail service into and out of Doha is efficient. The telephone system is also excellent with quick and easy worldwide connections. When calling Qatar from abroad, the country code is 974 (there are no area or city codes.) For local calls (within Qatar) dial the number without adding extra numbers for calls outside Doha or calls made to mobile phones. Telephone numbers consist of 7 digits. Fixed telephones start with the number 4, mobile phones start with number 5 and bleep numbers start with 2. Qatar has direct dialling with more than 215 countries. Phone cards for public telephone use are available at most small shops. They are in the following denominations: QR20, QR30, QR50 and QR100.
While visiting Qatar, keep up on the latest local and international news and events through the Qatar press. There are two daily English newspapers, the Gulf Times and The Peninsula. Many foreign news agencies are located in Qatar and international papers are available, including Herald Tribune and Financial Times. Qatar Television offers both Arabic- and English-language programming suitable for the entire family, including movies, series, cartoons, and news reports. Qatar Radio is broadcast in Arabic, English, and French. There is also a vast selection of print media available in both Arabic and English language. Many magazines are available, including the Marhaba, which contains an introduction to the country, places to stay, and things to doA^-- it is a great resource for visitors.
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Arabic is the official language, although English is widely used.
In their daily lives, Qataris wear traditional dress. For men this means a long, white shirt, thobe, worn over white trousers. A head covering, gutra, is secured with four black, tasselled cords which have been intricately braided. Women wear a long black flowing dress, abayah, and some women choose to wear a veil. The dresses are discretely interwoven with delicate threads and patterns, each one an individual creation. The contrast created between the menA^'s white shirt and womenA^'s black dress is breath-taking. It symbolizes the difference between men and women, while the long shirt and dress indicates the similarities. For special events and times of tradition, Qataris don their ceremonial clothing. Decorated with elaborate embroidery in both gold and silver, this clothing has been the inspiration for many international fashion designers. As a tourist, it is recommended to dress conservatively in light cotton fabrics that offer protection from the sun.
Moving around Qatar is quite easy and there are several options available to visitors. Limousine services are available through a variety of companies. More expensive than taxis, but very reasonably priced, late model vehicles with knowledgeable drivers are provided. The most economical method is the white and orange taxis. Although there is no central dispatch to call a taxi, you can easily wave one down. Another option is renting a vehicle from one of the many operators located in Qatar.
With private hospitals playing a vital role, the private health sector in the state of Qatar has developed considerably. In 2002, the private health sector included 21 health complexes, 82 dental clinics, 128 medical clinics and 2 general hospitals, in which 1132 doctors were employed. The health care provided in Qatar covers the entire country, giving free-of-charge inclusive services to citizens and other residents alike. This is carried out through a chain that starts with preliminary care services and ends with services extended at various specialised hospitals.