Friday, February 24, 2012

Weather in Doha

We are often asked what the weather is like in Doha.  We are especially asked by people who are thinking of coming to the country.

The answer we give is normally as follows:

  • November to Mid April is nice (generally in the 20s)
  • April and May are getting hot (generally 30s to low 40s)
  • June, July, August and September is very hot and humid (40s to 50s and high humidity)
  • October somewhat more manageable! (30s to low 40s)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Which is the cheapest supermarket in Qatar?

With a family of five, we spend a lot of time and money at supermarkets and buying groceries. As such, we shop around to find the best deals that we can. In today's article we provide a brief summary of which supermarket is the cheapest, and where we buy our groceries from.

The main supermarkets in Doha are:
Carre Four
Lulu Hypermarket
Family Food Centre
Dasman Centre

In terms of price, Carre Four seems to be the most expensive; FFC and Dasman are around the same with Lulu Hypermarket being the cheapest. In our experience Lulu Hypermarket also has the greatest range.

For us though, we like to eat a lot of natural foods so we go to the Wholesale Markets once a week. For 10 QAR you can buy a box of capacium, potatoes, cucumbers, onions etc. For the items you use less, you can buy them from the retail side of the market at still very good prices.

If you share the wholesale products with other families you can see huge discounts as well.
Over the next few weeks we are going to set up a page/site that has a comparision of prices on selected products between all the major supermarkets.

Rusty Colour

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rental prices in Qatar (June 2009)

Rental Prices in Qatar

The rental prices in 2009 have come down quite dramatically in many areas of Doha. This correction has been due to a variety of reasons:

An oversupply of housing (apartments in particular)

A decrease in the number of expats in Doha

Contracts on rentals not been renewed

While it is fair to say that the Qatar economy seems to be faring better than other economies around the world, there is still the opportunity for bargains to be had when renting a property.

Comparison in costs

Al Saad fully furnished 3 bedroom apartments from $9500

West Bay Fully furnished 3 bedroom apartments from $16000

Umogulina: Fully furnished 3 bedroom apartments from $8500

With the summer months coming and many rental contracts ending in August or September (this is when many people start their contracts after the hot summer), there are bound to be some even better deals coming up.

If you are in a position to have temporary monthly rental, or stay in your current house until then it may be well worth your while.


Contracts can be a scary thing, especially in times of fast change in rental markets. Below we provide some tips on contracts:

Make sure you understand (or have someone read) the Arabic version of the control. If there is ever an issue it is the Arabic version that will be used).
Only do a one year contract as a maximum. The rental market could change quite significantly over two years.

Ask to only pay one month bond and one month rent in advance. While some companies ask for up the three months in advance, one month and one month bond (security) are world-wide standard practice. It is better to keep the money in your pocket than someone elses.

Make sure that the contract has a buyout penalty clause is you leave the country. Most contracts have this but it is worth checking.


Rusty Colour

Thursday, June 11, 2009

how to open a bank account in Qatar

Opening a Bank Account in Qatar

What you will need:

A copy of your passport
A letter from your employer detailing your monthly base salary (or letter from your sponsor)
A letter from the bank to take back to your employer stating that you have opened an account and that they have no objection to your employer putting money in.

How to open an account:

Opening a bank account is a relatively simple process, especially if you choose one of the main banks in Qatar (QNB, Commercial Bank, Bank of Doha, Arab Bank or HSBC). You first need a letter from your employer (or sponsor) detailing your base salary and that they are happy for you to open a bank account.

You simply take this letter, along with your passport (and a copy of your passport) to the bank of your choice.

You are generally able to open an account on the spot (see account choices below), and will get given a card and associated paperwork.

The bank then needs to provide you with a letter to give back to your employer, detailing that they are happy to accept your salary.

That's it!.

Note: If you have your Residential Permit then you will not be required to bring your passport.

Types of Accounts (what is the different between bank accounts)

Current Account: This is an everyday banking account. Generally no fees, and many if not unlimited transactions. Most banks have a minimum balance required, otherwise fees are charged. The minimum balance for a QNB account is 3000 QAR

Saving Account: The savings account earns a higher rate of interest that the current account however; there are fees for transactions once they reach a certain number. There is also a higher minimum balance required. For a QNB account it is 5000 QAR.

Fixed Deposit Account: As its name suggests is an account where you keep money in that you are not planning to take out. The minimum balance is 20,000 QAR and there are set monthly payments that can be made it. As a reward for keeping a larger amount of money in the account you earn a higher rate of interest.

When first opening a bank account, the current account is best. As you have just arrived in Qatar you can open the account with no deposit and wait for your first pay to keep a minimum of 3000 QAR. There also seem to be no fees if you drop below the 3000 QAR for the first few months. Once you get things set up you can set up a savings account.

Key points to note when choosing a bank account and general Frequently Asked Questions.

Same bank as your employer: It is beneficial to open up a bank account at the same bank your employer banks with. This makes payments and processes a lot quicker, and can save a lot of headaches.

Changing banks: The letter from the bank to your employer, details that you cannot change banks without the approval of the bank you have opened your account with. This means it may be difficult to change banks and have your employer put money into a different bank account in the future.

ATM Machine swallowing your card: When this happens the cards are either sent back to the branch where you opened an account, or to the head office branch. It is best to call their call centre (tel: 440 7777) to find out where it has gone.

International Transfers: The majority of current bank accounts can be set up for International Transfers. Transfers are done one of two ways, either via the Internet (you can set up an account to send the money to) or over the counter. Generally, the Internet is the best option as the fees are around 35 QAR as opposed to 60 QAR for an over the counter transaction. The drawback for the Internet is that it can take 24-48 hours to set up the account (the bank call you to approve it).

The call centers: To be honest the call centers are not always that helpful. It is often best to go into a branch to ask questions – there is often a quicker response.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Beaches near Doha

During the cooler months (September to May), there are many beaches that you can visit near Doha. One of the best spots to go is Sealine Resort. Situated to the south of Doha (near Mesaieed), the Sealine beach is only a 45 minute journey from the heart of Doha and around 55km from the Doha International Airport. This location makes it a very drivable destination, especially if you are travelling with young children

There are two main choices:

The paid Sealine Resort
The free public beach just past the resort

The paid beach is located specifically within the Sealine Beach Resport. The Sealine Beach Resort was built in 1994 and includes landscaped lawns and gardens as well as three swimming pools (one lap pool, one kids pool and one large rock pool which includes a waterfall and bridges).

The resort also includes a full restaurant and bar, and for an addition fee Jet Ski's can be hired. However, all of this comes at a price. The following costs apply:

100 QAR per adult
50 QAR per child
35 QAR for car parking
500 QAR for jet ski hire.

If you are looking for a cheaper option, then there is also the free public beach just to the south of the resort. The directions are quite easy. At the roundabout opposite the Sealine resport, drive straight. After about 50 metres the road ends, and you have to drive on sand and rocks to go through to the beach (don't worry too much, it is hard sand and easy to drive on). Drive for around 600 meters going slightly towards the left and you will beach at the beach.

The public beach is at an idyllic setting, with sand dunes surrounding the beach (getting higher towards the south, and soft and golden sand).

Other things to do near sealine:

Quad bikes
Inland sea (we talk about this in another article)



Thursday, May 14, 2009

Qatar Drivers Licence - Frequently Asked Questions

Drivers License Frequently Asked Questions

Can you drive on an International Drivers Licence?

Yes in most cases, although it does depend what country you obtained the International Drivers Licence from as some countries are not recognized. Once you receive your International Drivers Licence (or before you apply for it) check on the document whether it is valid in Qatar.

Assuming that it is, you are able to drive on your International Drivers License for a period of up to six months.

What happens once you get your Residential Permit?

Once you obtain your residential permit, you must obtain your Qatari Drivers License almost immediately (the maximum period is seven days). If you are driving without a Qatari Drivers License you are breaking the law.

It is however possible to get approval from the traffic department within 15 days of arrival for your drivers license from your home country, however this is not deemed to be common practice.

What happens if you are caught driving without a Valid Drivers License?

This is a big one. Driving without a license can land you with a hefty fine and potentially a jail term which can range from one week up until three years. Definitely don’t do this here!

Is it hard to get a drivers license?

We cover this in the next article. Although the short answer is generally not.

What are the dermit points?

A full list of demerit points can be found at however we provide some of the more serious ones below:

Running an automatic or manually activated red light (7 points)
Driving in the wrong direction (6 points)
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs etc (6 points)
Exceeding the maximum speed limit (4 points)
Driving recklessly or dangerously or in a way that harms others (4 points)
Driving a vehicle without brakes or with faulty brakes (4 points)

Cheers Andrew

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Driving in Doha

Driving in Doha

Once you get over the initial shock of the speeds and the general acknowledgment that road rules are nothing more than advisory, driving in Doha can actually be a pleasurable experience.
The purpose of this article is to provide you with some background to driving in Doha and how you can best prepare yourself.

We will start with the basics. What to expect:

• Expect a lot of large SUV’s and 4WDs. This is one of the only places in the world where the Toyota Land Cruiser actually looks quite small (it is often dwarfed by GMC’s and the like).

• Expect round-a-bouts and lots of them. Round-a-bouts seem to be the number one solution for traffic management in Doha. Just remember that the lane markings an arrows aren’t really followed so expect people to turn from any lane.

• Expect lane changing and a lot of it. Some people indicate, and some people don’t. Also don’t expect people to stay in their lanes around round-a-bouts, or on straight roads for that matter. We are all sharing the companionship of the road and anything goes!

• Expect to be flashed or tooted. If you are in the left hand lane (the fast lane) and are only doing the speed limit, you will be shown (in a not very subtle way) to move out of the way.

• Expect people not to wear seatbelts. Seatbelts seem like an optional extra. It is not uncommon to see kids running around the inside of the car while driving.

• Expect hefty fines for breaking the road rules. Speeding will set you back 7000 QAR.

• Expect short “Amber” lights. The change from “Red” to “Green” is almost instant.

• Expect people to park anywhere.

Things that will help you drive well in Doha:
• Always expect that someone is going to be pulling into your lane.
• Drive confidently, especially when merging. Hesitations can cause accidents.
• Use your horn to warn people that you are there (just a soft toot is enough)
• Use the middle lane where possible – you have more choices
• Indicate at round abouts
• Obey Red Lights and speed zones. Always be ready to break.

The above are some simple tips, that hopefully help your driving experience in Doha.

As we previously said, it can be a very enjoyable experience, however you have to go out there with confidence and be ready to think for others as well.