Since the mid-1800s, Qatar transformed itself from a British protectorate into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues, which enable Qatar to have a per capita income almost above the leading industrial countries of Western Europe. Qatar is home to the Al Jazeera television station and is rapidly gaining interest among foreigners as it hosted the 2006 Asian Games and is now scheduled to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Oil and gas account for more than 30% of GDP, roughly 80% of export earnings, and 58% of government revenues. Proved oil reserves of 15 billion barrels (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Qatar) should ensure continued output at current levels for 23 years. Oil has given Qatar a per capita GDP comparable to that of the leading West European industrial countries. Qatar’s proved reserves of natural gas exceed 7 trillion cubic metres, more than 5% of the world total, third largest in the world. Production and export of natural gas are becoming increasingly important. Long-term goals feature the development of offshore natural gas reserves. In 2000, Qatar posted its highest ever trade surplus of $US7 billion, due mainly to high oil prices and increased natural gas exports, and managed to maintain the surplus in 2001.
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- Doha – capital
- Al-Khor – northern municipality with a population of some 36,000, close to Ras Laffan Industrial City (RLIC), where the LNG (liquified natural gas) terminals are located.
- Rayyan – second largest city with a population of some 275,000
- Wakra – Southern municipality.
Khor Al Udeid (Inland Sea) – a region of rolling dunes and high revving engines, many tourists and locals alike enjoy racing up and down the seemingly endless sand dunes. There are a variety of tourism companies that will give you a guided tour of the region, often complete with a traditional Arab meal and campfire.
Zubarah – Contains the ruins of a deserted city and a fort built in 1938 by Sheikh ‘Abdu’llah bin Qasim Al-Thani. Also the planned site of the Qatar-Bahrain Friendship Bridge which will allow road travel between North-West Qatar and Bahrain.
Citizens of all European Union nations (except Ireland and the United Kingdom), plus the Bahamas, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Norway, Seychelles, Switzerland and Turkey are granted a free multiple-entry visa waiver on arrival, provided they arrive through Hamad International Airport, have a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months and a confirmed onward or return ticket. Visa waivers are valid for 180 days from the date of issuance, and entitle its holder to spend up to 90 consecutive days in Qatar.
Citizens of Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China (PRC), Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Georgia, Guyana, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Macedonia, the Maldives, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Russia, San Marino, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Suriname, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela may obtain a visa waiver upon arrival valid for 30 days from the date of issuance. This waiver may be extended for a further 30 days.
Citizens of Pakistan can obtain a visa on arrival valid for 30 days, provided that they hold a passport valid for 6 months, QAR 5000 in cash or a major credit card, and a confirmed return ticket.
Citizens of Iran travelling on business can obtain a visa on arrival at a cost of QAR100 for a maximum stay of 6 days, provided they hold QAR 5000 in cash or a major credit card, return ticket, upper class hotel reservation and an invitation by a company that is certified by the Government.
Citizens of all nationalities who hold valid residence permits or visas for either the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Schengen Area, or the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council can obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation valid for up to 30 days. The visa may be extended online for 30 additional days.
Regardless of nationality, travellers who are in transit through Hamad International Airport do not require a visa if they depart within 24 hours and remain within the airport. Free transit visas, which are valid for up to 96 hours (4 days) and allow travellers to briefly visit Qatar, are also issued to all passengers of any nationality transiting through Hamad International Airport, provided that they travel with Qatar Airways.
For those needing visas, tourist visas are available online through the eVisa system. Visas are issued within four working days if all documents are submitted, and are valid for a stay period up to 30 days in Qatar.
For other visa applications, visa procedures can be complicated, as you will need a guarantor on the Qatari side, either a company or a government entity. Also Qatari embassies, unlike those of most other countries, are not entitled to issue visas, so someone in Qatar will have to file the application for you. 4/5-star hotels offer full visa service, for a price, if you book a room with them for the duration of your stay. Qatar Airways can arrange the hotel and visa for you, tel. +974 44496980 if you contact them in advance (a 7 day notice seem to be required). In this case, there also seems to also be a new regulation in place (2008) to either present a credit card or QAR 5000 at the point of entry – which should generally not be a problem, if you can afford the room. When booking with other hotels, you’ll need a guarantor in Qatar.
For longer stays, visas must be arranged by having a sponsor. Unmarried women under the age of 35 will have a hard time in procuring a visa for a lengthy stay, as the country seems to fear that their safety and well being cannot be guaranteed.
Qatar is among the few Gulf states that officially accepts Israeli passports (with the necessary visas) and passports with evidence of visits to Israel.
When going by plane to Qatar, you will most likely enter the country at Doha‘s airport: Hamad International Airport (DOH), which opened on 30 April 2014. Local carrier Qatar Airways is building a growing worldwide network with flights from there.