Qatar Country Report
A trade and diplomatic boycott by Gulf neighbours, imposed in June 2017, caused delays to construction projects as supply chains were re-routed. Although there are positive indicators of a shift in the Saudi position, the boycott is unlikely to be entirely resolved in 2020. Qatar has undertaken an expansive infrastructure development programme in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Although high-profile projects, such as the Doha Metro, are unlikely to be cancelled, growing fiscal pressure is increasing contract re-negotiation, cancellation, and insolvency risks for subcontractors. The state's emphasis on rationalising spending and identifying essential versus non-essential projects will probably continue in 2020, increasing contract risks.
There is a moderate risk of shootings and small IED attacks against Westerners and soft targets by jihadists. There is a very small proportion of Qatari jihadists fighting abroad compared with other nationalities, despite domestic support for Salafism. Potential targets in Qatar include Western residential and office buildings, hotels, international schools, and entertainment venues frequented by expatriates in the West Bay area. Western embassy staff and workers in the oil and gas industry are at moderate risk of one-off attacks while off-site, but such attacks are unlikely to cause significant material damage.
The high standard of living among Qatari nationals means that petty crime, such as pickpocketing, is not a major problem in Qatar. However, there is likely to be an opportunistic increase with large crowds of visitors.
Petty crime is highly unlikely to develop into a potential embarrassment in the run-up to the world cup. The Qatari Ministry of Interior has been successful in reducing the rate of crime in Qatar year on year. In 2018, 88.3% of total crimes committed were classified as minor – involving financial violations and non-criminal disputes.
Public markets are common locations for pickpocketing; such areas are likely to be heavily policed and under surveillance during the tournament and this is likely to limit the incidence of petty crime. Qatari citizens are unlikely to engage in minor robbery, and any foreign workers that do so are likely to be deported. Large crowds of fans are more likely to be targeted by pickpockets, but theft is unlikely to be high volume, and is more likely carried out by individuals rather than organised criminal cells. The world cup is expected to attract a high number of 'court-siding' gambling gangs.
The risk of a US-Iran war in the Gulf, which would inevitably involve Qatar, is elevated and increasing following the US killing of Iranian Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani on 3 January 2020.The probability of conflict is reduced by the strong likelihood of Iran being defeated by the US in a conventional conflict. There are indications that the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar involving Bahrain, Egypt, and the UAE will ease in 2020, including a decision by the boycotting states to attend the Gulf Cup tournament in Qatar in November 2019. The dispute is unlikely to escalate militarily as long as the US rejects this option.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
No vaccinations are required to enter the country.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Sandstorms can occur at any time and regularly disrupt road and air traffic.
Rain, while rare, is generally violent and often leads to flash flooding, which can cause road accidents. Periods of heavy rain usually occur between October and March.
From April to October, temperatures can rise to 50°C (122°F). In the winter, nights can be cool with temperatures around 7° C (45 °F).
Qatar is located in a seismic zone. Strong tremors have previously been felt from powerful earthquakes with epicenters in neighboring Iran (e.g. April 2013) and Afghanistan (e.g. October 2015).
Doha's Hamad International Airport (DOH), which opened in 2014, is considered one of the biggest travel hubs worldwide; more than 90 percent of travelers flying to DOH are in transit to another location.
However, all flights to and from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the UAE have been suspended since June 2017 until further notice due to an ongoing diplomatic rift (see the POLITICS section). Qatar Airways was also forced to reroute its flights given that neighboring countries (UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain) closed their airspace to Qatari planes.
The land border with Saudi Arabia is also closed until further notice and sea routes are suspended.
The national road network is well developed but construction sites located throughout the country regularly disrupt traffic. Due to rapid development in Doha, maps can be inaccurate, and GPS devices are rarely up to date. Finally, cultural and sports events usually lead to the closure of the "Corniche," one of Doha's main roads.
Authorities are very strict in enforcing traffic laws; traffic cameras are numerous and fines can be high. Qatar has a zero-tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving.
Metered taxis (turquoise in color) are available in Doha and are reliable and safe, and can be hailed on the street. Furthermore, many drivers speak English. The Uber ridesharing system is also well implemented in the country.
Road accidents are frequent due to unskilled and/or young drivers (especially on Thursday and Friday evenings), speeding, and the presence of animals on the roads.
Qatar has an arid climate. Summers, from May to October, are scorching (up to 46°C) and humid. During this time the Shamal, a violent and dusty wind, can provoke sandstorms. Conditions during the winter (November to April) are milder with cool nights and low levels of rainfall.
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