The sun shines year-round with temperatures that range between 25 and 45 degrees. In July and August, temperatures can soar past 50 degrees. Humidity will often be at 90 per cent in the summer months. Temperatures plummet over night and it can be bitterly cold. Qatar sees very little rain, about 7.5cm per year. When it does rain, showers are torrential and afterwards temporary lakes appear in the desert. For a short time, Qatar turns green.
When to fly to Qatar
The best time to book a flight to Qatar is between October and April. Winter-sun lovers and divers should note that the sea is coolest in December and January.
The Eid al Adha, or the feast of sacrifice, Ramadan and Eid Al Fitri are all important religious events in Qatar.
July and August are low season times in Qatar when it is simply too hot for most Western visitors. However, if you're a keen diver it's a great time to go.
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Getting around Qatar
There is only one airport, Doha International Airport, for travellers taking flights to Qatar.
The Qatar Transport Company (Arabic name is Mowasalat) operates taxis, known as Karwa, throughout Doha, the capital. The taxis can be booked in advance or hailed from the street or at a taxi rank.
The best way to get around Qatar is by car, either 4X4 or with a car and driver. Cars can be rented easily at the airport (Avis, Hertz, Sixt, Thrifty, Budget, Europcar, Mustafawi) and taxis are a cheap option too. As befits an oil-producing nation, petrol is inexpensive.
Qatar insider information
- The warm waters of the Arabian Gulf are a draw for divers. Visibility is generally 65-100ft, but the best months are between July and September. This is when land temperatures are at their hottest (up to 50 degrees Celsius) however. Some of the best dive sites are Kalbuh, Fahal Island, Cemetery Bay, and the Dimaaniyat Islands. There is an abundance of marine life: sharks, dolphins, turtles, grouper, coral and sea anemones among others.
- The protected (it was very nearly extinct) Arabian Oryx, a type of antelope, lives on a farm in Shahaniya. The animal is probably the closest thing to a unicorn. Falconry is the ancient sport of the Bedouin. The birds were used to hunt game in the past – they can fly faster than 50 miles per hour – but it is still an important sporting activity. The hunting season extends from October to March.
- Desert safari in a 4X4 can be a white-knuckle ride as the drivers weave their way through the sand dunes. This is one way of getting to the beautiful inland sea, which is an inlet of the Arabian Gulf that runs along the border. It almost cuts Qatar off from the Saudi Arabian Peninsula.
- In Doha, take a turn around the Corniche, a four mile-long stretch of coastline by the Arabian Gulf. Doha’s souk is small, but still worth a look.
- Take a dhow (traditional boat) to Palmtree Island, a man-made island in the bay of Doha.
- Al Zubara Fort in the north west looks like the type of place to have French Legioniers patrolling around. It was built in 1938 and is considered to be Qatar’s best-preserved fort. It was in operation until the middle of the 1980s, and is now a regional museum housing pottery and other artifacts.