The Supreme Committee for Tourism,
P.O. Box 2977, Doha, State of Qatar
Tel: 0974 - 426414, 427712
Fax: 0974 - 431223

Physical geography

The peninsula of Qatar protrudes northwards from mainland Arabia into the clear waters of the Gulf, bordering Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the south and covering a total area of 11,437 square kilometres. A predominantly low-lying pebbly desert landscape gradually rises towards the west. Areas of wet sand 'Sebkha' occur particularly in the south where the wind has caused the formation of many sand dunes. Offshore there are numerous islands, the most important being Hawar, Haloul with its oil storage facilities, Al-Aliya and Al-Safliya.


Natural vegetation is scarce and is only found in the northern regions. Rainfall is unpredictable and slight: 70mm per annum occurring in winter associated with a cool northerly wind. Temperatures average 19 Celsius in winter, rising to 42 Celsius in the exceptionally hot summer months with low humidity except for two months which are July and August.

Economic geography

Qatar's economy is based on petroleum extracted from fields on and offshore, and natural gas from the North Gas Field, the biggest in the world. Industry achieved a certain increase, while agriculture remains limited owing to soil erosion. Fishing and pearling were the backbone of the economy from time immemorial.


The population of Qatar is more than 500,000; the majority of whom live in the capital, the financial & commercial centre Doha.

A brief history

Recent archaeological excavations have demonstrated that earliest settlements in Qatar go back to about 8000 B.C., while the flourishing period remains the fifth millennium B.C. (over two hundred sites have already been located) with an economy depending mainly on fishing and hunting.

Grinding stones unearthed at Al-Da'sa and Al-Khor may be considered as evidence for gathering wild crops while agriculture remains a question mark.

Barter at that early state is ascertained by the presence of imported Ubeid pottery at Al-Da'sa and Al-Khor. Murwab marks a turning point in the history of Qatar since it is the oldest known fort, going back to the early Islamic period, built on the ruins of an older fort destroyed by fire.

Ruins of other forts and towers from later periods are still evident at Al-Wajbah, Al-Huwailah, Zubara, Fuwairet, Umm ElMa', Ruwayda, Al-Jumail, Abu, Ad-Dhuluf, Umm Birkah, etc.

The main 'raison d'etre' of these numerous fortified places is to protect the wealth they housed since pearl-fishing reached its peak during those periods, although, historically, this industry is known to exist as far back as the Roman period and even earlier.

The Al-Thani came to Qatar in the 18th century and in 1868 Sheikh Mohammed Bin Thani became the first ruler.

On September 3, 1971, H.H. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al-Thani announced the end of the 1916 treaty with Great Britain and proclaimed full independence.

On February 22, 1972, Sheikh Khalifa assumed supreme authority with full support of the ruling family, the people of Qatar and the armed forces.

On May 31, 1977, the Emir issued a decree appointing H.H. Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Heir Apparent and Minister of Defence.

Qatar is an independent and sovereign Arab State. It is a member of both the Arab League and the United Nations.


The religion is Islam and Islamic Shari'a is the basis of the country's legal system.

Languages spoken by nationals

The official and native language is Arabic, although English is widely spoken.


Greenwich Mean Time plus three hours.


The legal currency is the Qatari Riyal abbreviated QR, divided into 100 Dirhams appearing in coins of 5,10, 25 and 50 Dirhams, and banknote bills of: 1, 5,10, 50, 100 and 500 Riyals value.

Official holidays

All offices and shops closed

Friday is the weekly holiday. In addition, there are Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, the exact dates of which depend on the lunar calendar. The state also celebrates Independence Day on September 3 and the anniversary of the accession of HH the Emir on February 22.

What one should not fail to see

Qatar National Museum and Aquarium: Itself an old palace displaying the country's heritage, customs, traditions and the underwater world of the Gulf and its inhabitants.

Qatar National development exhibition: Under construction and future projects exhibited in a restored traditional residence.

The souks

No Middle Eastern city is complete without a bazaar, and Doha is no exception. Here small stalls and shops are packed together in narrow passages and streets where you can buy almost anything from oriental handicrafts to the most modern electronical equipment.

Palm Tree Leisure Island: The island is located in the middle of the DohaWest Bay facing the Doha Corniche. Open in 1995, it provides Fish Restaurant beach area, water sports, private cabanas and lots of other exciting facilities.

Umm Said Beach Resort: Consists of a two storey motel with all major self contained rooms overlooking the sea, a first class restaurant, a coffee bar lounge, shop units and game hall. Also, family and single chalets with private beaches and sea view are landscaped into the site.

Doha Golf Course: Opened in December 1995.

Rayyan Race Course: Much attention is paid to breeding Arabian horses and camels. Race meetings take place on Fridays and other special occasions.

The Oryx: Called the 'Arabian oryx' and also Al-Wedaihi because of its white colour. The state takes much interest in the breeding and protection of this rare animal. The oryx farms in Al-Shahaniyah and Al-Zubarah comprise one of the largest and rarest herds in the world.

The Dehlan: Three natural caves created by erosion of the limestone by underground water. Inside the dahal one finds a cool water pool despite the arid desert above.

Khor al-Udeid: Here in the most southwesterly point of the country is the area of Qatar's most impressive sand dunes which rise around a bay to some 40 metres in height. The best time to visit is at sunrise or sunset when the sun casts dramatic shadows across this amazing landscape. This is also an area to observe wildlife and migratory birds.

Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring

From October to May.

How to dress

Warm clothes during the months of December and January. Otherwise summer clothes are recommended during the rest of the year.

Main holiday resorts

See 'What one should not fail to see'.

Main holiday sports

Swimming, fishing, water skiing, diving, boating, squash, bowling, horse-riding and wind surfing, tennis and golf.

What to eat and drink

Most hotels and restaurants serve both European and Oriental meals.

What to buy

Embroidered dresses, handmade rugs traditional coffee-pots, jewellery and certain kinds of electrical and electronical equipment.

Frontier formalities

Passports and visas

Valid passport with entry, exit or transit visa required for nationals of all countries except: United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman and United Kingdom (valid passport without visa).

Health regulations

Certificates for cholera and other diseases are required by travellers arriving from known infected areas.


Entry: the following is admitted free of customs duties: cigarettes 200, or cigars 50, or tobacco 200gr. Also sports equipment, cameras, films, radios, printing or sound reproduction equipment, typewriters, phonographs, moving picture cameras, binoculars.

Strictly prohibited: firearms and spirits.

Currency regulations

No currency restrictions.

Main travel routes

Doha-Ruwais, Doha-Dukhan, Doha-Umm Said, Doha-Salwa (Saudi Arabia).


Doha Limousine

A 24-hour service provided by a fleet of luxurious cars driven by qualified bi-lingual drivers, speaking both English and Arabic. For further information just dial, Tel: 0974 - 320999, Fax: 0974-447778, PO BOX 1186.

Car hire

Self-drive cars cost from QR 100/= per day for a small car. Details available from Rent-a-Car, P.O. BOX 1316, Tel: 0974- 328100, Avis Tel: 0974 - 323684, Budget Tel: 0974 - 419500, Tristar Self Drive Tel: 0974-323588, Gulf Car Tel: 0974-427820


Identifiable by their mixed white and orange colour. Meters are now fitted. They are usually cheaper by the day.

Representatives abroad

Qatari Embassies abroad

ALGERIA: P.O. Box 118, Algiers. Tel: 595287. Tx: 52224.

AUSTRIA: Strudlhofgasse 10, 1090 Vienna. Tel: 316639. Tx: 131306 Embqva.

BANGLADESH: House No. 23, Road No. 108, Gulshan Model Town, Dhaka. Tel: 604477. Tx: 642315 Qatari BJ.

BELGlUM: Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 37, 1050 Brussels. Tel: 6402900. Tx: 63754 Qatbru.

EGYPT: Al-Thimar Street 10, Almohandisseen, Cairo. Tel: 704537. Tx: 2287.

FRANCE: Quai d'Orsay 57, 75007 Paris. Tel: 45 51 90 71. Tx: 270074F.

GERMANY (Fed. Rep. of): Brunnenallee 6, 5300 Bonn 2. Tel: 351074. Tx: 885476.

INDIA: A-3 West End Colony, New Delhi 110021. Tel: 673745. Tx.: 2087 Hwarin.

IRAN: P.O. Box 11365, Teheran. Tel: 221256. Tx: 212375.

IRAQ: P.O. Box 2445, Allowia. Tel: 5412186. Tx: 212391.

JAPAN:16-22 Shirogane, 6-Chome, Minato-Ku, Tokyo 108. Tel: 4467561. Tx: J24877 Kharijia.

JORDAN: P.O. Box 5098, Amman. Tel: 64430. Tx: 21248.

KUWAIT: P.O. Box 1825, Safat-Kuwait. Tel: 2513606. Tx: 22038.

LEBANON: P.O. Box 6717, Shouran, Aldabas Building. Tel: 810460. Tx.: 21324.

LIBYA: P.O. Box 3506, Tripoli. Tel: 36661. Tx.: 36661.

MAURITANIA: P.O. Box 609, Nouakchott. Tel: 52399. Tx.: 514.

MOROCCO: P.O. Box 1220, Rabat. Tel: 65774. Tx.: 31624.

OMAN: P.O. Box 802, Muscat. Tel: 701802. Tx: 3460.

PAKISTAN: Masjid Road 201, Shalimar 6/4, Islamabad. Tel: 824635. Tx.: 09251 .

SAUDI ARABIA: Al- Olaya, Al Takhasousi, West of Euromarche Market. Tel: 4225544. Tx.: 205755.

SOMALIA: P.O. Box 1744, Mogadishu. Tel: 80746. Tx: 629.

SPAIN: Paseo De La Castellana, No. 15, Plantas 5a y 6a. Tel: 4198400. Tx.: 48537 Qtri.

SUDAN: P.O. Box 223, Khartoum. Tel: 42188. Tx.: 223.

SYRIA: P.O. Box 4188, Damascus. Tel: 336717. Tx: 11064.

TUNISIA: P.O. Box 29, Tunis. Tel: 285600. Tx: 14131.

UAE: P.O. Box 3503, Abu Dhabi. Tel: 338900. Tx: 22664.

UK: 27 Chesham Place, London SWIX 8 HG. Tel: 01235-0851. Tx: 28469 Qatemb G.

USA: 600 New Hampshire Ave. N.W., Suitel 1180, Washington, D.C. 20037. Tel: 202-338-0111. Tx: 440246.

We have been able to publish the present tourist information on Qatar thanks to the co-operation of the Supreme Committee For Tourism in Doha.