Living in Qatar
The State of Qatar is a small peninsula bordering Saudi Arabia and projecting into the Persian Gulf. With substantial oil and natural gas reserves, Qatar has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world and has developed high quality health care and education systems. Like most of Arabia, it is a hot and dry desert land with no surface water and few native plants and animals. Most of Qatar’s 850,000 people live in cities, particularly Doha, the national capital.
Doha lies on the east coast of the peninsula, and displays a mix of modern and traditional Arabic architecture. The Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam is the predominant religion. Most women wear a long black dress, called an abaya, and some wear a face cover, called a niqab, but foreigners are not expected to do so. Loose pants, capris, or jeans are recommended, paired with t-shirts or long-sleeved tops. Shorts and tank tops are not allowed on the University’s campus and not recommended in general.
Only 20 percent of the nation's population is native to Qatar, as a large number of expatriates from India, Pakistan, Iran, North Africa, and various Western nations live and work in the country. Qatar's official language is Arabic, although Urdu and English are widely spoken, especially among the foreign community. It is known for its wide array of international cuisines, and shopping and recreational activities are plentiful.
The desert in Qatar is surprisingly varied. Magnificent sand dunes curve across the country in the south, while to the north, the desert is flat and rocky, with limestone outcrops. Oases and farms that draw on sources of sweet water are found in central and northern areas. The climate is mild and pleasant in winter, hot and sometimes humid in summer. Doha is situated around a bay, so there are many beaches, as well as a sea line "Corniche" which runs along the water.