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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet

Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Qatar

Qatar - Consular Information Sheet
July 19, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Qatar is a traditional emirate, governed by the Al-Thani family in consultation with a council of ministers, an appointed advisory council and an elected municipal advisory council. Islamic ideals and beliefs provide the conservative foundation of the country's customs, laws and practices. Qatar is a modern, developed country. Tourist facilities are available. Qatar is not a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations nor to any other bilateral or multilateral consular accord.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Passports and visas are required. For further information, travelers may contact the Embassy of the State of Qatar, 4200 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Suite 200, Washington, D.C. 20016, telephone (202) 274-1600, fax (202) 237-0053, or the Consulate General of the State of Qatar, 4265 San Felipe Street, Suite 1100, Houston, Texas 77027, telephone (713) 968-9840, fax (713) 968-9841. Additional information is available on the internet at http://www.traveldocs.com.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of the relationship between the child and an accompanying adult and, when the child's parent(s) or legal guardian is not traveling with the child, permission from that adult for the child's travel. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

DUAL NATIONALITY: Qatari law does not recognize dual nationality. Persons who possess Qatari citizenship in addition to U.S. citizenship are considered Qatari citizens by the State of Qatar and are subject to Qatar's laws. Qatari citizenship imposes special obligations, particularly with regard to child custody and exiting or entering the country. For additional information, see Dual Nationality flyer or contact the U.S. Embassy in Doha.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Americans in Qatar should exercise a high level of security awareness. The Department of State remains concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks against United States citizens and interests throughout the world. Americans should maintain a low profile, vary routes and times for all required travel, and treat mail and packages from unfamiliar sources with suspicion. In addition, American citizens are urged to avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects, and to report the presence of the objects to local authorities. Vehicles should not be left unattended, if at all possible, and should be kept locked at all times. U.S. Government personnel overseas have been advised to take the same precautions. In addition, U.S. Government facilities may temporarily close or suspend public services from time to time as necessary to review their security posture and ensure its adequacy.

CRIME: Crime is rare and generally not a problem for travelers in Qatar. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Useful information on safeguarding valuables, protecting personal security, and other matters while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlets, A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips For Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa. They are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, .

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Basic modern medical care and medicines are available in the government-run Hamad General Hospital and the privately run American Hospital in Doha. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payments for health services.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via their Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Qatar is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of public transportation: Good
Urban road conditions/maintenance: Good
Rural road conditions/maintenance: Good
Availability of roadside assistance: Poor

Travel by road in Qatar is generally safe, although safety regulations in Qatar are not consistent with U.S. standards. Roads in Doha and Qatar's highway system are well planned and engineered. Informal rules of the road and local customs, however, may prove frustrating for first-time visitors. The rate of automobile accidents due to driver error is higher than in the United States. In rural areas, poor lighting, wandering camels and horses, and high-speed driving are other factors of concern.

For specific information concerning Qatari driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact either the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate General of the State of Qatar in Houston, Texas.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.

AVIATION OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial service by local carriers at present between the United States and Qatar, nor economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Qatar's civil aviation authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Qatar's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.htm.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. As a result of the August 23, 2000 crash of a Gulf Air flight in the Persian Gulf, DOD has recommended that military commanders use air carriers other than Gulf Air for DOD official travel, at least until investigation of the crash is complete. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Qatari customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning importation into Qatar of items such as alcohol, narcotics, pork products, firearms, or anything deemed pornographic by Qatari authorities. While importation of religious material for personal use is acceptable, importation of religious material for the purpose of proselytizing is not. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Washington, D.C., or the Consulate General of the State of Qatar in Houston for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Pets entering Qatar require an import permit from the Ministry of Agriculture. Cats with proper documentation are allowed to enter with no difficulty, but some breeds of dogs, especially large dogs, are not admitted. Application forms for import permits may be obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture through a sponsoring employer. A copy of the pet's health certificate and vaccination record must be submitted with the application.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Qatari laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for drunk driving and other alcohol-related offenses are treated with severity and may result in heavy fines, imprisonment, or expulsion from the country. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs in Qatar are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Homosexual activity is considered to be a criminal offense, and those convicted may be sentenced to lashing and/or a prison sentence, and/or deportation.

IDENTIFICATION REQUIREMENT: U.S. citizens, particularly those of Arab descent, are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship is readily available.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Qatari employers/sponsors have customarily held on to the passports of their foreign (i.e., non-Qatari) employees during the terms of their employment in Qatar. Foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, may not leave Qatar without the permission in the form of exit visas from their employer/sponsor.

Islam provides the foundation of Qatar's customs, laws and practices. Foreign visitors are expected to remain sensitive to the Islamic culture and not dress in a revealing or provocative manner, including the wearing of sleeveless shirts and blouses, halter tops and shorts. Western bathing attire is worn at hotel pools and beaches.

THIRD COUNTRY VISAS: The United States Embassy in Doha cannot assist U.S. citizens in Qatar to obtain third country visas for unofficial travel.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION AND EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens living in or visiting Qatar are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Qatar and obtain updated information on travel and security within Qatar. The U.S. Embassy is located at the Al-Luqta District on 22nd February Street, P.O. Box 2399, Doha, phone (974) 488-4176. For after hour emergencies, American citizens may contact the duty officer at (974) 553-1085. On the Internet, you may reach the Embassy website at http://www.usembassy.org.qa. The workweek in Qatar and for the Embassy is Saturday through Wednesday.


This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated October 2, 2000 to update information on Entry Requirements, Safety and Security, Medical Insurance, Criminal Penalties, Special Circumstances, the Embassy's phone number; to revise the section on Children's Issues; and to add the section on Third Country visas.

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