Water is safe to drink from the tap in Qatar, although many prefer to use bottled water.
Coffee enjoys a special place in Qatari culture. It is common to have jugs of coffee or tea awaiting visitors in Qatari homes. Arabian coffee is of very high quality, and may be spiced with cardamom and sweetened or served with dates. Thickly brewed Turkish coffee is also popular in Qatar. For those who prefer American-style coffee, Starbucks are very common in Doha.
Fresh fruit and herb cocktails are also popular in Qatar, and are sold by street vendors throughout the country. Popular flavours include mint and lemon juice, and avocado smoothies.
Qatar is a Muslim country, and although their laws are considerably more liberal than other parts of the Middle East and alcohol is not illegal in Qatar and Doha. However, under Sharia Law it is illegal to show alcohol or be drunk in public in Qatar.
The following rules apply to the purchase and consumption of alcohol:
Expats and non-Muslims in Doha can purchase and consume liquor in licensed restaurants and hotels, such as the Ramada, Grand Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, etc. Bars require that all patrons show identification at the door, so expatriates should carry their passport or identification card.
Expatriates in Doha may also purchase alcohol through a permit system. There is one importer and retailer of alcohol in Doha: The Qatar Distribution Company (QDC; Address: Nr Qatar Technical College, Street 668, Al Maamoura, Doha; Tel: 4469 9412). They operate two liquor stores, where a permit must be presented to purchase alcohol, and any liquor purchased must be hidden from view and taken straight home. The amount of alcohol a person can purchase each month in Qatar depends on their salary (i.e. you may purchase alcohol equaling 10% of your salary).
Applications are available at the shop. A letter from the expat's employer, addressed to the Qatar Distribution Company, and written in English, is required to apply for an alcohol permit. If this letter is written in Arabic, it must be accompanied by a translation. This letter must state:
The following documents must also be submitted with the alcohol permit application:
Eating is an important social and family ritual in Qatar. In Qatar it is considered offensive for visitors to turn down food and drinks that are offered to them.
Breakfast in Qatar is typically light, consisting of yogurt, cheese and olives eaten with coffee. A main, midday meal is usually heavy, beginning with an appetizer (mezze), served with Arabic flat bread and a meat or fish stew with vegetable and salad side dishes. It is traditional to scoop food using Arabic flat bread, rather than use cutlery. It is also customary to taste and share a large number of dishes during a meal. Evening meals are typically light snacks, except during Ramadan and other special occasions. The week's main family gathering is typically the main midday meal taken after Friday prayers.
During the month of Ramadan, a time of self-examination and religious devotion, Muslims fast between dawn and dusk. Elaborate, festive meals are served after nightfall. Eating and drinking in public during daylight hours in the month of Ramadan is prohibited for all, whether fasting or not. The month of Ramadan is the ninth calendar month in the Islamic calendar (which consists of 12 months and lasts 354 days). Start and end dates for Ramadan each year can be found here.
More information on Ramadan can be found in our article Respecting Ramadan as an Expat or Traveler.
The number of expatriates in the city has led to a fusion of cuisines in Doha, influenced by Iranian, Indian and North African flavours.
Common Qatari dishes
While there are few strictly vegetarian restaurants, there are many vegetarian-dining options in Doha owing to the city's large Indian population and the vegetarian dishes found in local cuisine.
Le Pain Quotidien
Villaggio Mall, Doha
Part of the Le Pain chain, Le Pain Quotidien Doha offers vegetarian and vegan menu options.
Phone: +974 4413 5444
Museum Park Street, Doha
Part of the Sukh Sagar Indian cuisine chain, offering a variety of vegetarian options.
Phone: +974 4431 9172
B-Ring Road and Airport Road Intersection
Indian vegetarian cuisine.
Phone: +974 4443 2211
While many locals do not tip, expats may tip 5-20% on café and restaurant bills. Be aware that some cafes and restaurants add a surcharge to your bill that is not a tip.
When staying in holiday accommodation, you can tip 100 QR to security personnel at your compound or villa. Tips to people who fill your car with petrol, wash cars, etc. vary from 2 QR to 15 QR.
Doha boasts a variety of cafes serving fresh Arabic pastries and breads, Arabic roast coffee, Turkish coffee, American coffee, and light snacks.
Menu: Egyptian restaurant located in the Katara Cultural Village. Mains starting at 45 QR, with a minimum spend of 100 QR per person during evening meals.
Red Velvet Cupcakery
Building 24, Katara Cultural Village, West Bay, Doha
Phone: +974 4408 2022
Cupcakes made with fine French chocolate and Madagascar vanilla.
The Pearl Qatar and Landmark Mall
Phone: +974 4495 3876 Ext. 5387 and +974 4488 7360
Villaggio Mall and City Center Mall and Landmark Mall
Phone: +974 4488 0575 (Landmark Mall location)
Villaggio Mall and The Pearl Qatar
Phone: +974 4450 7896 and +974 4495 3876 Ext. 2623
Deli and café, with sandwiches from 35 QR and pizzas from 55 QR.
W Hotel and Restaurants, West Bay, Doha
Phone: +974 4453 5000
Light bites and takeaway.
Ya Hala Café
Hilton Doha, Diplomatic District, Doha
Phone: +974 4233 3333
Alison Nelson's Chocolate Bar
The Pearl, Doha
Phone: +974 4495 3878 Ext. 1311
The Pearl, Doha
Phone: +974 4495 3878
Showarma is a popular meat snack in Qatar consisting of spiced lamb or chicken served rolled in a pocket of Arabic bread with pickles, lime juice, and tahini. Falafels and sandwiches are also popular snacks.
International fast food franchises are becoming increasingly common and popular in Doha, and offer delivery and drive through services. Chains in Doha include McDonald's KFC, Dairy Queen, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Little Caesar's, and Pizza Inn, TGI Friday's, Applebee's, Chili's, and Ponderosa Steakhouse. You can find these and other international chain restaurants at the intersection of Doha's C-Ring and Salwa Road (called the Ramada Junction by locals, as the Ramada hotel is located there), and at major shopping centres.
Given the city's large expatriate community, it comes as no surprise that you can dine your way around the world from the tables of Doha's restaurants. From Indian to American and everything in between, you'll be spoilt for choice.
Southeast Asian food prepared by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Set menus from 275 QR, Express lunch menus from 89 QR.
St. Regis Hotel, West Bay, Doha
Phone: +974 4446 0170
Dress code: Smart elegant, no sportswear, jeans permitted only with closed toe shoes and collared shirts. No hats.
Set in the gardens of the St. Regis, offering Asian cuisine.
Grand Hyatt Hotel, West Bay, Doha
Phone: +974 4448 1250
Thai food with special Thai brunches on Fridays from 12:30 to 4:00 pm from 250 QR.
Landmark Mall, Doha
Phone: +974 4487 5222
Opal by Gordon Ramsay
St. Regis, West Bay, Doha
Phone: +974 4446 0105
Dress code: Smart casual
Winner of the Best Contemporary European Restaurant 2013 from Time Out Doha, this bistro-style restaurant has a sommelier on staff and offers free meals to children under six.
St. Regis, West Bay, Doha
Phone: +974 4446 0105
Dress code: Business casual
Winner of Best Romantic Restaurant 2013 from Time Out Doha, this 5-star restaurant offers avant-garde dining.
Katara Cultural Village, West Bay, Doha
Phone: +974 4408 0800
A melting pot of international cuisines by 3-Michelin-star chef Jean-Georges. Set menus from 210 QR, with Express Lunch menus from 89 QR.
New York Steakhouse
Al Wahda Street, West Bay City Center, Doha
Phone: +974 4419 6100
Dress code: Smart casual
American food served in a comfortable, stylish ambience.
French cuisine at affordable prices.
Al Adhamiyah Iraqi Restaurant
Souq Waqif, Doha
Phone: +974 4432 4326
Iraqi restaurant nestled in Waqif Souq. Kebabs from 40 QR, salads from 18 QR, sodas from 3 QR.
Japanese and Korean cuisine.
Specializing in bagels with a variety of toppings, and pizzas from 11 QR.
Babbel is an international success with millions of active subscribers and ranked as the world's #1 innovative company in education.
Learn and review on your own schedule: Mobile, tablet or desktop compatible, with lessons about 10-15 min.
Expert-made courses: Learn the basics or focus on topics like travel, culture, or business.
Start speaking right away: Learn to speak a new language naturally and conversationally.
Every learner is different: Each course is based on your native language and personal interests.
Remember everything: Babbel employs proven cognitive techniques that move new vocab to your long-term memory.
Refine your pronunciation: Practise speaking and improve your pronunciation with speech recognition technology.
Registration with Babbel is completely free of charge and the first lesson in every course is FREE to try (Depending on the language you choose, that's 30-80 free lessons!).
If you want full access to Babbel's courses, simply choose a subscription that works best for you. Buy with confidence: 20-day money back guarantee!