Preparing to come to Qatar
Please make sure to determine how to get a visa to Qatar by visiting the visas page. If you already obtained a visa, make sure to bring a printed copy with you. If you are eligible to obtain a visa upon arrival, you will need to pay for your visa using a credit card. You may need to contact your credit card company to ensure that your card will work in Qatar.
There are two ways to get from the airport to your hotel, namely by bus and by taxi. Using a bus is not advisable as the routes don’t cover most hotels and finding a way to get to the hotel after the bus drop-off can be tricky. Taking a taxi is the preferred mode of transportation and should cost around 20 USD. Beware that taxis only take Qatari Riyals, and they only accept cash.
Qatar uses UK plugs and sockets like these
Culture, customs, and local information
Kindly visit the local arrangements to find answers to question about what to wear, whether you can drive, tourist attractions, and weather. The weather can be warm during this time of the year, so we recommend light loose clothes covering up susceptible parts of the body from the sun.
Driving in Qatar
If you want to drive in Qatar, you can rent a car from the airport or from rental offices around the city. You can use a foreign driver’s license for up to a week and an international driver’s license for up to six months. Like most countries, traffic in Qatar is right-handed, and drivers sit in the front left seat. Driving is generally orderly, but with the occasional aggressive drivers. So, drive defensively. Roundabouts are popular in Qatar. The right-of-way is always to the cars in the roundabout. Traffic law enforcement is mostly done using traffic cameras. Follow the post speed limits and obey traffic lights. Beware: running a red light can set you back $1,650. Qatar has a zero-tolerance policy for drunk driving with huge fines, mandatory jail sentences, and deportation. Talking on the phone while driving is also prohibited. More information is available here.
Things to do in Qatar
Though Qatar is an Arab country, English is widely spoken, and most instructions and signs are in both Arabic and English.
Getting a local number
There are two mobile operators in Qatar, namely Ooredoo (the biggest of the two) and Vodafone. You can get a prepaid SIM card from the “24-7” store (for Ooredoo) or the WH-Smith store (for Vodafone) in the arrival hall in the airport. An Ooredoo pre-paid SIM card is 25 Qatari Riyals with no credit, but allows you 250 minutes to other Ooredoo numbers and 250 megs of data. Ooredoo local calls are 0.55 QAR/minute and international calls are mostly 0.99 QAR/minute, but can be up to 3.99 QAR/minute for some countries. A Vodafone pre-paid SIM card is 15 Qatar Riyals with no credit. Vodafone local calls are 0.55 QAR/minute and international calls are 0.99 QAR/minute. The stores will take a copy of your passport when you buy the SIM card. For both, receiving calls is free, but you would need to top-off to make calls.
Food, pharmacy, exchange, and shopping
City Center Mall, which is right next to the conference venue, has dozens of restaurants, a pharmacy, opticians, a money exchange, multiple department and electronics stores, a hypermarket, and sports shops.
Foreign embassies and consulates in Qatar
Here is a comprehensive list of embassies and consulates in Doha, Qatar.
Moving around the city
There are several ways to go around the city.
One of the easier ways is by Taxi. There are a few local taxi operators. It is generally difficult to pick up a taxi off the street. You would need to call the operator before hand or go to their meeting points. The closest meeting point to the conference venue is in front the City Center Mall (less than 50 meters from the conference venue). A taxi ride is typically around 30 Qatari Riyals (about $8).
There are three different bus service options, namely:
- Public bus service. The service is sparse and not recommended.
- The West Bay Bus service. This is a free service with buses every 15 minutes between 6 am and 12 midnight. It only operates in the West Bay area and has a stop within 50 meters of the conference venue. The bus map is available here.
- The Doha Bus (aka the Hop-on Hop-off). This is a paid service with daily passes with buses every 30 minutes. It connects most of Doha’s tourist attractions including the Museum of Islamic Art, the Pearl, and Souq Waqif. They are bit pricey. They make sense only when you are traveling alone and you want to visit several places on the same day. You can find more information here.