TRAVEL ADVISORY FOR QATAR (updated 6 August 2008)
Τhere is threat from terrorism in Qatar. Al Qaeda continues to issue statements threatening to carry out attacks in the Gulf region. These might include Western interests, residential compounds, military, oil and transport and aviation interests. A suicide-bomb attack occurred on 19 March 2005, outside a theatre in Doha. One British national was killed and at least 12 other people were injured.
All Cypriot citizens should continue taking sensible precautions for personal safety and avoid large public gatherings and demonstrations. You should review your security arrangements carefully and remain vigilant, especially in public places.
Consular Protection: Qatar has not signed or ratified the treaty of Consular Relations. Double citizenship is not recognized and individuals with Cypriot and Qatari citizenship are only considered as nationals of Qatar. The legal system is particularly restrictive, especially with regard to the guardianship of children and exit and entry in the country. In the framework of dissuasion and prevention of kidnapping of children, strict controls are adopted at the airport and in enough cases a written consent of parent or guardian is required for travelling children. Qatari nationals need permission from the State to marry foreigners and need to submit an application in order to ensure citizenship. Women as a rule cannot acquire Qatari citizenship for their alien spouses.
Crime: Crime is rare in Qatar but the visitors are advised to be circumspect and careful. Women in particular should be careful when travelling at night and are advised to use reputable means of transport. Lately an increase in the use and circulation of narcotic drugs has been observed and a lot of people have been arrested and put in prison. There is also an increase in petty theft and credit card theft.
Health: The country has an adequate medical system with a state owned hospital, the Hamad, medical centres, private clinics and private doctors. The pharmacies provide a big variety of medicines or their substitutes. The hospitals and doctors expect to be paid in cash. All travellers are strongly advised to obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance.
Road system/Driving: The road system is at this time undergoing drastic repairs and improvements. Unfortunately a big number of lethal accidents are reported due to excessive speed and negligence of drivers and Qatar has been placed on top of countries with the worst driving record. You are advised to exercise maximum diligence. In case of accident you remain with your vehicle. It is an offence to abandon the vehicle before the police arrive. You should maintain your calm and avoid displays of anger. Recent legislation provides strict sentences and big fines for use of mobile phones while driving and transport of minors in the front seats. Driving under the influence of alcohol is not tolerated and offenders might incur detention, heavy fines, imprisonment or even deportation. If a case is opened against you this automatically result on a ban on your departure from Qatar until your case has been resolved. There is increased checking and monitoring of offenders with zero tolerance. Particular attention is needed when travelling in the desert when an adequately equipped 4 x 4 vehicle should be used and you must be alert for poor lighting, wandering camels and lack of orientation. Particularly in the summer months, with temperatures up to 50Cο, travel with inadequate vehicle and lack of water can be fatal.
Driving is permitted on a valid Cypriot licence for 7 days only. For longer periods you should obtain a temporary permit from the local traffic department. Once you obtain a residency permit, you must contact the local traffic department to obtain a full Qatar driving licence, as you are not allowed to drive on a Cypriot or temporary licence. Driving on an international driver’s licence is not permitted.
Local Customs, Code of Behaviour: Dress modestly, behave with politeness and respect local customs and sensitivities especially religious ones. Intimacy in public spaces is strictly prohibited and can lead to arrest and imposition of heavy sentences, as imprisonment and deportation. The import of alcoholic drinks, pork meat, pornography and religious material and books is prohibited and possession and use of narcotic substances incurs strict sentences and imprisonment. The public possession and use of alcoholic drinks it is penal offence. Alcoholic drinks are sold in hotels and restaurants and foreigners, permanent residents, can obtain alcohol locally on a permit system with the condition that it is for private use and consumption. It is only allowed to transport alcoholic drinks from the warehouse to your house.
Air link: There is at the time no direct air link with Cyprus. Most visitors arrive to Qatar from Bahrain, Dubai, Beirut or Amman.
Justice: Cypriots in the Qatar are under the jurisdiction of the state and should respect and obey the laws and regulations of the country. Sentences in certain cases are very strict and include flogging, deportation or and imprisonment. Driving under the influence of alcohol incurs particularly severe penalties. Strict sentencing is also imposed for possession and use of narcotics. Homosexuality is a penal offence and is punished with flogging, imprisonment and or deportation. In many cases individuals have been expelled from the country with only a warning of 24 hours.
Entry Requirements: Cypriot nationals need to apply for a visa to Qatar prior to travelling. Applications should be submitted at least 7 working days prior to departure. Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months. Visas are valid for three months from the day of issue and upon entry to Qatar it is valid for 14 days. The visa can be extended locally for another 14 days. Applications are usually submitted through hotels or companies and applicants should make their own arrangements providing their hotel with photocopies of the relevant pages of their passports. Visitors should present on arrival at least 5,000 Riyals or the equivalent amount or a credit card. Visas for business are requested from registered companies, are valid for 14 days and they can be extended for 3 months. On arrival to the airport a copy of the visa should be presented to the authorities. Applicants for resident permit, working visa or registrations of companies should be prepared to produce a police report fro their country of origin.
Visas at the airport: It is noted that citizens of the countries of the Gulf (GCC) are allowed visa on arrival. This is also the case of a number of other countries, among them the fifteen initial members of the European Union (including Greece). It is expected that very soon the list should be expanded to include the rest of the European Union.
DIPLOMATIC REPRESENTATION FROM QATAR: A Qatari Embassy was oppwned recently in Cyprus.
Accredited ambassador: Mr Mubarak bin Abdulrahman Al Nasser
DIPLOMATIC REPRESENTATION IN QATAR: The Cypriot Εmbassy in Qatar opened in 2003.
Accredited ambassador: George C. Kasoulides
Address: Saba Saha 12 Street, Bld. No. 3, District 63, West Bay, P.O.Box 24482, Doha, Qatar
Tel.: + 974 4934390/1, Fax: + 974.4933087, E-mail: email@example.com.
Working hours: The Εmbassy is open from Sunday to Thursday from 07:00 up to 14:30. The consulate is opened to the public from 08:00 up to 12:00.
Registration at the Embassy: The Cypriot Εmbassy maintains a registry of citizens in accordance with European Union regulations and Cypriot citizens that either live or are employed in the country are encouraged to register with the Εmbassy.