Qatar Country Report
Qatar's failure to halt support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas and its cultivation of a closer relationship with Iran antagonised Saudi Arabia and the UAE in 2017. On 5 June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain imposed an economic blockade on Qatar, with the likely intent of forcing it to renounce support for Islamist groups and create distance between it and the Iranian regime. Qatar has rejected these demands and the boycott is likely to continue in 2018. There is a moderate risk of jihadist attacks against Westerners, although attacks against embassies and hydrocarbon infrastructure are unlikely to succeed.
A trade boycott by Gulf neighbours, imposed in June 2017, caused delays to construction projects as supply chains were re-routed. 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 grow in 2018, increasing contract risks. Mega-projects unrelated to the World Cup will probably be delayed indefinitely.
There is a moderate risk of shootings and small IED attacks against Westerners and soft targets by jihadists. There is only a 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 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.
The risk of a Saudi-Iran war in the Gulf, which would inevitably involve Qatar, is low. The dispute between Qatar and a Saudi-led bloc involving the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt, is very unlikely to escalate militarily as long as the United States rejects such an option. Although border disputes between Qatar and Saudi Arabia have long strained their relations, both are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council mutual defence alliance and the risk of disputes leading to military confrontation is negligible.
Qatar's generous welfare system and extensive patronage for Qatari nationals and its small population reduce the risk of politically or economically motivated unrest. There have been no widespread calls for democratic reforms. There are no organised Qatari opposition groups, and the large population of migrant workers is unlikely to protest given the high likelihood of consequent deportation. A prolonged economic and trade blockade by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, imposed in June 2017, raised the risk of political unrest and calls for a change in leadership should basic foodstuffs become scarce and inflation increases, but no such movements have materialised.
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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