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Submitted by an expat woman living in Doha, Qatar

City: Doha
Country: Qatar
Submitter's Name: Tunde
Nationality: Hungary
Arrival Date: Decembery 2004
Date Submitted: Septeber 01, 2007
Expand/ContractCity Description
Doha is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. New skyscrapers, hotels, houses, shopping malls and roads appearing from one day to the other. When I came here, everything was different. The Diplomatic area was almost empty, now it's full with skyscrapers and hotels under construction.

Also many awful looking houses had been demoleged, and still many other will be soon. So Doha is on the way to be a beautifull city very soon. It's nice even at the moment, but will be totally different in some years. The waether is extremely hot especially during the sommer and humidity is very high. From November till March the weather is very nice, sunny, but cool and enjoyable.
Expand/ContractPros and Cons
Locals are usually very nice and kind, I never had any problem with them. Here the main problem is the huge amount of construction and other workers, who are staring at western woman with an open mouth all the time, and very often they follow them, shouting them bad words, and continously harrassing them. So every women mustve take care of them, many of them are really dangerous! Doha is perfect for families, there are many parks and playground for children, although education is quiet expensive.

For singles, well it's not a heaven, I think...For couples it's good, but they have to take care of not kissing or showing their emotions in public. Someone told me that Doha is the biggest gay city in the world, because women are not so available, and boyfriend-girlfriend relationships are officially not tolerated, many man chooses to have relationship from the same sex. Also, often men hold their hand, but in their culture it's the symbol of relationship. But officially gays and especially lesbians are not tolerated.

Islam is the official relegion here, and everybody must respect it. During Ramadan restaurants are closed untill sunset, and people are not allowed to eat, dring or smoke during daytime. Doha consists of many nationalities, actually from all over the world. There are still gender prejudices, but foreigners must respect local women and not to stare them or talk to them otherwise they might be in trouble.

Doha is relatively safe, the only problem is with the men disturbing and harrassing women, although I think it's a biger issue than thiefs in my opinion. Dress code: local women wear the abaya, the black, long dress which fully covers them. Local men are wearing a long, white dress. Anybody can wear whatever they wish but they better wear long trousers and not show their legs or arms, because it's not appreciated here.
Expand/ContractImmigration / Visas / Work Permits
Everybody must go through a process to get Resident Permit. It includes blood test, X-Ray and fingerprint. Sponsorship is a must for every non-qatari, usually workers are sponsored by their workplace, and non-working women can be sponzored by their father or husband.
Accomodation is extremely expensive, and still it's rising. Apartmans, villas and coumpounds are all available. Villas are of course the most expensive. Although their are many new houses, many of them are not available, because it's held for companies. So accomodation is still a problem in Doha.
Expand/ContractHousehold Help
Yes, helpers are very cheap here, many people have them.
There is only one telecommunication company here called Q-Tel. Local calls are free, only there is a monthly charge of QR 33. Mobile calls have a certain charge, and international calls can be made also from landline or from mobile, you just have to buy Hala card for the amount of QR 30 or 50. Internet sevice is also privded by Q-Tel. ADSL is available for the amount of QR 200-400/per month.

Many newspapers are available in English and Arabic language as well. Most famous english newspapers are Gulf Times and Qatar Tribune. Magazines are also widely available in both languages. Everybody can oppen postal box and take their letters from their.
Expand/ContractLocal Language
Arabic is the official language, although English is widely spoken. Language courses are available.
Expand/ContractUtilities for the Home
Tap water is not safety, so we always buy water from the supermarket.
Expand/ContractLocal Employment
I think it's not too difficult to find a job. Gulf Times has also job advertisement.
Expand/ContractMoney and Banks
Local currenycy is qatari riyal. 1 USD is 3.64 riyals. Bank service is widely available but you need a letter from your employer and a minimum ammount to be placed on your account initially. It's different in every bank, but usually around QR 5000.
The state hospital is Hamad Hospital. I haven't been there, because we are always using a private clinic called Apollo Clinic, there service is very good. Medicines are widely available.
Education is expensive and the best scools are usually full or waitlisted. There is school bus for the children on a high price, but usually brought to school by parents.
Drining is dangerous, they are drinving here like crazy! There are many accidents every day, so everybody must be carefull. Now there are some strict rules, so hopefully that will help making it easier. Driving licences are issued by Traffic Department. Getting driving licence is depends actually on the mood of the people working there.

Everytime they say something different. Now I heard that they want to stop giving licence to non-working women. I still didn't get my licence and they didn't even look at my international driving licence. There is now bus service but only used by construction workers, I have never seen women sitting on it. Taxis are the most common, although still there is a shortage of it.
Expand/ContractShopping & Beauty Care
There are many beauty saloon everywhere in the city. All beauty things are available in the main stores, or there are many shops as well in the shopping malls. The most famous is City Centre, there are a huge veriety of shops.
Expand/ContractSports and Entertainment
Yes, there are gym, usally with different opening hours for men and women.
Dogs and cats need entry and exit permit. Now there is a new rules that all dogs must have blood test and animal can be only transported as cargo, not as excess baggage anymore. There are some vetrinary available, one of them is Doha Vets.
Expand/ContractUseful Resources
http://www.qatarliving.com --- you can find here all the information you need.
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