Geography of Doha


Located on a peninsula bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia, Qatar is one of the world's fastest-developing countries. Its oil and natural gas reserves also make it one of the richest, with one of the highest per capita incomes in the world.

The demography of Qatar and Doha is unusual in that the majority of its residents are expatriates. Qatari nationals are a minority in Qatar; there are 33 migrants for every 1000 residents in the country. Ethnic groups in the country include Arab (40%), Indian (18%), Pakistani (18%), and Iranian (10%). Qatar shares the top spot with Libya for the country with the highest ratio of migrants to nationals.

Geography of Qatar

Qatar is a peninsula, just less than 12,000 square kilometers in size, with over 560 kilometers of coastline and 60 kilometers of shared border with Saudi Arabia. The country lies between the Gulf of Bahrain and the Persona Gulf with a width that varies from 55 to 90 km (34 and 56 mi). The Kingdom of Bahrain is just northwest of Qatar.

Qatar is comprised of mostly flat and barren dessert covered in loose sand and gravel. This includes the geographic features of coastal salt pans, elevated limestone formations, and impressive sand dunes. Khawr al Udayd, known to English speakers as the "Inland Sea", is an inlet of the Persian Gulf in the southeast border.

Several islands surround Qatar with a few belonging to the nation. Halul lies around 90 km (56 mi) east of Doha and is an important location for the storage and transfer of oil. Hawar and several other nearby islands off the west coast have been subject of territorial disputes between Qatar and Bahrain.

The highest point in Qatar is Tuwayyir al Hamir, at just 103 meters above sea level. Only 1.2% of the country is comprised of arable land.

Cities and Municipalities in Qatar

Qatar's population is just over 2 million, 60% of which live in its capital city of Doha. Doha is Qatar's economic centre, one of the municipalities (or baladiyat) of Qatar, and also serves as the seat of its government.

Other municipalities in Qatar include:

  • Madinat ash Shamal in the north
  • Al Khawr in the north east
  • Umm Salal in the centre of the country
  • Al Daayen on the east coast
  • Ar Rayyan in the south and west coast
  • Ad Dawah on the east coast
  • Al Wakrah in the south east

Of these municipalities, Ar Rayyan, Ad Dawah and Al Khwar are the most populous.

Climate in Qatar

Qatar's climate is a hot desert climate: Arid and mild in the winter, with very hot humid summers. On average, humidity is 60% in Qatar, being more humid in the winter than the summer.

In the summer (May to September) temperatures average 38 °C (100 °F) plus humidity, and there is no precipitation.

In the winter (October to April) temperatures average 21 °C (70 °F) and rarely fall below 7 °C (45 °F) with very little precipitation. Qatar receives just 75 mm (3 inches) of precipitation annually.

Time Zone in Qatar

The time zone in Qatar is UTC+3 (Arabia Standard Time or AST). Qatar does not observe daylight savings time.

Customs and Etiquette in Qatar

Qataris place great importance on greetings. In Qatar, greetings include a number of phrases and fixed responses. As a courtesy, expats should learn the basics of how to say hello and goodbye when in the company of locals. Often a greeting will be accompanied by a handshake (using the right hand only) or a kiss on both sides of the cheeks.

Common greeting exchanges include:

  • Peace be upon you (Assalam 'alaykum) / And upon you be peace (Wa'alaykum salaam)
  • Good morning (Sabah al khair) / May your morning be bright (Sabah an noor)
  • Welcome (Marhaba) / A double welcome to you (Marhabtain)
  • Go in safety (Ma'a salaamah) / Same to you (Ya hala feek)
  • Ramadan blessings (Ramadan Kareem)
  • Eid blessings (Eid Mubarak)

In Qatar it is considered offensive to show the soles of your feet or shoes to your Qatari hosts. It is also insulting to sit with your back towards other guests (chairs are usually arranged around the walls to avoid this).

In Qatar you should also ask before photographing people. Many older people and women will object to being photographed. You should also avoid photographing members of the police or army.

You should not accept items with your left hand in Qatar. If you eat with your fingers, a local custom, follow Muslim convention and use your right hand.

Geography of Doha

Cityscape of Doha

The city of Doha is organized in a crescent shape, with its main roads running parallel to its Corniche waterfront and beach. Opposite Corniche waterfront is Al Bidda Park, located near the Qatar Islamic Cultural Centre with its iconic architecture and the Museum of Islamic Art. Behind the Corniche is the city's Hamad General Hospital on Al Rayyan Road.

In the north the Pearl Qatar development is home to hotels and resorts, situated on reclaimed land across from Qatar University and the Doha Golf Club. In the middle of Doha's harbor, and across from the Pearl development, is Al Safliya Island.

Main streets include Khalifa Street, AL Wadha Street, Al Markhiya Street, Al Rayyan Road Al Matar Street, the C Ring Road, and AL Corniche Street. The central Salwa Road runs through the middle of the city, and continues eastward through the city's industrial area all the way to Qatar's west coast.

Climate in Doha

The climate in Doha is hot and arid, with variable humidity. Temperatures average 38 °C (100 °F) in the summer, but most buildings in the city are equipped with air conditioning.

For up-to-date weather information, consult Doha Weather.

Districts of Doha

Doha's main neighbourhoods are:

  • Al Sadd - A busy commercial area.
  • Al Waab - Popular with families, located near the Villaggio Mall and Aspire Park, and surrounded by villas and compounds where many expats live. Doha College and the American School of Doha are also located in Al Waab.
  • The Pearl - Located on reclaimed land north of the city's waterfront area (Corniche) that boasts luxury apartments and developments.
  • West Bay Lagoon – Also known as Al Qutaifiya, this area is marked by high-rise apartments, embassies, and luxurious waterside villas. Properties in this district may be purchased by non-Qatari nationals (details on purchasing property in Qatar are provided in the "Accommodation - Buy" section of the guide).
  • Madinate Khalifa – This is becoming a popular area for families in Doha, near the Landmark Mall, and full of villas and compounds.
  • Abu Hamour - A popular residential area due to its number of new compounds and stand-alone villas.
  • The Old Airport Area - One of the oldest areas of the city.
  • Al Wakra - Just outside the city on the coast, comprising a very small beach community with a more relaxed vibe.
  • Al Dafna - Set to be Doha's main business district, located on the seaside.

Update 1/10/2013

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