Essential Info for Qatar

Population: About 2.2 million

Capital city: Doha (also largest city)

Other major cities: Al Rayyan, Al Jamaliyah, Al Khor, Al Wakrah

Neighbouring countries: Situated on the northeastern coast of the Arab peninsula, Qatar is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the west, with the island state of Bahrain to the northwest. Across the Persian Gulf to the northeast is Iran, while the United Arab Emirates is situated to the southeast.

Geography: The peninsula of Qatar is low lying. In the east of the country there are smooth plains covered by fine-grained dust. The south and southwest portion on the peninsula is made up of sand salt flats. The coastline is emergent and gently slopes toward the sea. Many flat, low-lying offshore islands are located near the coast and accompanied by coral reefs. Because of the salt water which comes into contact with the low lying land, many salt pans have formed along the coast. 

Political system: The political system in Qatar is an absolute monarchy with the Emir of Qatar as head of state and head of government. Sharia law shapes most legislation in Qatar.

Major religion: Islam

Main languages: Arabic (official), English

Money: The currency is the Qatari Riyal (QAR) which is divided in 100 dirhams. Expats are able to open a bank account in Qatar, but will need their employer to provide a "no objection" letter for their application. ATMs are widely available. 

Tipping: A 10 percent service charge is often added to hotel and restaurant bills, and remains the expected amount when service hasn't been charged for. Taxi drivers also expect a small gratuity, and rounding up the due amount is often enough.

Time: GMT +3

Electricity: 240/415 volts AC; 50 Hz. Rectangular-blade plugs (three flat pins in a triangle) and round-pin plugs (three round pins in a triangular pattern) are used most often.

Internet domain: .qa

International dialling code: +974

Emergency contacts: The general emergency number for police ambulances and fire services in Qatar is 999. Operators will often speak English.

Transport and driving: Traffic in Qatar drives on the right. Expats should drive defensively because the country is known for having accident rates. Taxis are available in certain areas but buses are scarce and the rail network is only due for completion in 2030.