Qatar Country Brief
Security travel advice for Qatar
Threat level: Medium
The current travel safety advice for Qatar is to remain cautious and aware of the local laws and customs. Most visits are without issue and it is classed as one of the safest Middle East countries. The country has been given the privilege of hosting the 2022 Football World Cup, and it is thought that this will bring in millions of visitors during the period. Preparations for the event have already begun.
Qatar has recently made a statement with renewed vigour in the fight against terrorism, with regards to propaganda and financing originating from its country. This may make it a more prominent target due to the international press attention regarding its pledge.
Recent Security Risk Events
Although there is a limited security threat towards visitors in Qatar, there is a high threat of terrorism directed towards western nationals travelling globally especially towards the end of Ramadan and Eid approach. Please be aware of this and take necessary precautions for your itinerary and watch the local news for specific alerts concerning your stay in the Middle East.
Sex outside of marriage is illegal in Qatar and has resulted in prison sentences, even in the cases of rape. Article 281 of Qatar's penal code states: "Whoever copulates with a female over 16 without compulsion, duress or ruse shall be punished with imprisonment for a term up to seven years. The same penalty shall also be imposed on the female for her consent." The penalties can also involve flogging/lashings. The case of rape is hard for females to prove in Qatar, a 2016 case which involved a Dutch visitor was brought into question as she was seen consensually walking with the accused. She evidentially received a suspended sentence and fined £580 after reporting the incident to the authorities.
There is a low risk of violent crime, with some petty crime on an upwards trend, however the country as a whole has a large police presence and strict enforcement. As such the risk of being a victim of serious crime is low and more likely with regards to financial or fraudulent crime. If normal safety precautions are undertaken with regards to the use of ATMs and credit cards then your visit should be trouble free.
Qatar is a Muslim country therefore it is very important you adhere to local customs, laws and traditions, for example dressing respectively and not showing expressions of intimacy in a public place. The latter is illegal and something which should be avoided altogether. Furthermore, homosexuality is also illegal so discretion is advised when travelling to Qatar.
Qatar is a very strict country with many religious laws and traditions. It is very important that visitors respect the cultural of the country at all times.
Qatar has grown its international reach since its independence from the United Kingdom in 1971, it now has memberships with many international organisations. However Qatar’s support for rebel groups and its coverage of events through its mainline media channel Al Jazeera news during the Arab spring seen its relations strained with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain. Since then diplomatic talks have been undertaken, but there is still an underlying political competitiveness between many of the Middle Eastern Oil and Gas producing countries.
Driving in Qatar is the foremost risk when visiting this country, with many vehicles speeding and having little consideration for others on the road. Be careful when travelling; wear a seatbelt and adhere to the rules of the road. Poor lighting can cause accidents as some drivers do not adhere to good driving practices and standards.
If you are involved in an accident, move the vehicle off the main road if possible and do not leave the scene as it is considered a criminal offence. Please note that some people have been deported due to road accidents.
There is a risk of piracy within the coastal region and the Persian Gulf, prominent near to the islands of Abu Masa and the Tunbs.
Like many Middle Eastern countries, Qatar can suffer with sand and dust storms, please make your way to a safe area inside if this occurs. The heavy rain season occurs from December to January, which can result in localised flooding and travel delays. There are also high levels of humidity and severe heat between June and September, take basic precautions to prevent dehydration and exhaustion.
Time now in Doha:
British citizens can obtain a free 30-day visa-waiver when they arrive in Qatar. Visas can be obtained on arrival for British citizens, as well 34 other countries, however they may need to be requested prior to travel from other countries. Please see Qatar's Embassy advice page for further information.
It is advised that visitors to Qatar are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. You should ensure that you have been further vaccinated against diseases such as Tetanus which is usually administered when you are a young baby. You may also want to consider a Hepatitis A vaccination. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Other health risks
Personal hygiene must be paramount, the local water supply avoided at all costs and bottled water inspected prior to consumption. There have been a number of reports of bottled water being refilled with tap water and re-sold.
The general standard of the healthcare facilities are excellent in Qatar however travellers are advised that treatment can be extremely costly, even simple routine procedures. You should therefore ensure that you have purchased adequate health and travel insurance for the entire trip.
U.S. Embassy Doha
22nd February Street,
Al Luqta District,
P.O. Box 2399,
Telephone: +974 4496 6000
Onaiza Zone 66,
Al Shabab Street,
PO Box 3 Doha,
Telephone: +974 4496 2000
Other useful info
Police emergency: 999
Fire emergency: 999
Medical emergency: 999
KAHRAMAA – Electricity and Water: 991