The State of Qatar is a sovereign and independent state in the Middle East, occupying a peninsula spread over 11,521 sq km that juts 160 km north into the Persian Gulf. Varying in width between 55 and 90 km, the surface area is predominantly flat (with the highest point being 103 metres) and rocky covered with sand flats and dunes. There are some breathtaking low-rise outcrops to the north and northwest of the country. The surface of Qatar is characterised by a variety of geographical phenomena, with interesting coves and inlets scattered along the coastline.
Capital – Doha City: Doha's history may delve back into the 19th century, but the face of the city that visitors see today only really started to emerge after the discovery of oil and Qatar's independence in 1971. Before the discovery of oil, Qatar was noted mainly for pearl hunting. Qatar has been ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-19th century. The country is the world's richest per capita and has the highest human development in the Arab World; furthermore, it is recognised as a high income economy by the World Bank.
Over the last few decades the most obvious display of this wealth has come in the form of gleaming skyscrapers and office blocks in the Al Dafna/West Bay area. Qatar is aiming to position itself as a major global tourist destination with hotels, restaurants and purpose-built attractions to match. Billions of dollars have been invested in the Hamad International Airport, The Pearl-Qatar, Lusail City, the rapidly expanding state airline Qatar Airways, and other tourist-orientated developments. There is now plenty for tourists as well as business people to enjoy. In addition to the recently added attractions, Qatar also boasts UNESCO archeological sites, dune bashing tours and dhow cruises
Population: As at July 2014 Qatar Statistics Authority puts the country's population at over 2.1 million, 80% of whom live in and around Doha city, which is the political and economic capital.
Climate: Qatar has a desert climate of hot summers and relatively mild winters, with temperatures rarely falling below 7˚C. In summer, the temperature ranges between 25˚ and 48˚C. Rainfall is minimal and on average does not exceed 75.2 mm per year, with rains falling between the months of October and March.
Language: Arabic, though English is widely spoken and understood.
Electricity: 240 volts, 3 or 2 pin plugs.
International Dialling Code: 00(country code)(phone number)
Dialling Code, Qatar: +974(phone number)
Religion: Islam is the official religion of the country, with Shariah (Islamic Law) being the principal source of legislation in Qatar.
Hours of Business: The working week in Qatar is predominantly from Sunday to Thursday. The Government's official working hours are 7:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Banking hours are 8:00 AM to 1:30 PM, Sunday through Thursday, while private sectors are generally 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM and 4:00 PM to 7:30 PM, Saturday through Thursday. Friday, the Muslim holiday, is a day of rest of all sectors; however shops and shopping malls are open on Friday evenings.
Currency: The unit of currency is the Qatar Riyal (QAR), which is divided into 100 Dirhams. Notes in circulation are Qatar Riyals in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500. Coins commonly found are 25 and 50 Dirhams. The Qatar Riyal has a fixed exchange rate against the US Dollar – USD1 = QAR 3.64.
Dress Code: Qatar is an Islamic state and it is deemed courteous for visitors to dress modestly. Swimwear is acceptable on hotel beaches or by the pool, but on public beaches T-shirts and a discreet covering of legs is required. Topless sunbathing is not permitted. Be particularly conscious of your attire when visiting malls, souqs or other areas frequented by mixed nationalities.
Women should avoid wearing strappy sleeveless dresses, shorts or see-through fabrics. Men should avoid vest-type T-shirts and brief shorts. It is important to dress modestly during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Alcohol: In Qatar, as in most Islamic countries, alcohol is forbidden by religion, though some four and five star hotels are usually licensed.
Taking Photographs: Do ask for permission before you take photographs of traditionally attired individuals. Many older people and most women object to being photographed. Equally, avoid photographing sensitive locations and people, which include members of the police, armed forces, as well as embassies and other government buildings.