A Qatar Guide for Tourists and Residents
Home   Qatar   Doha   Contact   Qatar Jobs   Qatar Map   Request

Friday, October 27, 2006

"Tell me more!": Information in Qatar

"We’re really spoilt for information in the U.K.," a friend said to me recently. It didn’t sink in straight away, but the more I thought of it the more I realised she was right.

Here are some examples of the total lack of information we have here:

- Tourist information: every time I go to a Qatar government tourist website, my heart lifts in joy as a beautiful flash introduction jumps onto the screen. At last, I think, I have found the website I need. Then I find that all the events advertised took place two years ago. And all this with the Asian Games only 30 days away! (Update 1st November 2006 - the Qatar Tourism Authority website has finally been updated!)

- Which leads onto the internet. Qatar must be fifteen years behind the rest of the world – there’s hardly anything on the web. (The exception being e-government – nice piece of work!)

- Visa information. Okay, it’s there all right, but every book and website has different information.

- Emails. With the total lack of information, you have to contact people directly and ask for it. One problem. No replies. Ever.

- Telephones: ditto. I got four replies out of twelve calls to property companies when researching my recent post on property. You have to ring people on their mobiles – which they’ll answer while driving, of course.

- Road works. Two days ago, as I swung onto C-ring road across a major city intersection, relieved to have made it back across the desert alive (all the dune-bashing nutters were heading back home) I nearly crashed into a barrier shutting off one of the main roads of the city. There was no warning sign. (Just in case you think I'm exaggerating, I returned the next day and made a video of other cars having the same problem).

- Speed signs and speeding. I recently got caught by a speed camera. It was in the desert, on a large empty road with no speed signs and I was doing 90 kilometres per hour (road speeds can go up to 120 here).

- Hospitals. I feel a little unfair here, as the health care is superb! (I know from experience). But the one area they lag behind the U.K. (and they’re ahead of them in others (food springs to mind (not that it’s hard to beat the U.K. in that area))) is keeping the patient informed.

- Work. Recently a lady friend had a job interview – but she didn’t know what for, what the wages were or what the position was – or even the name of the company! She drove all over the city looking for the place where she was to be interviewed, only to be driven back to the building opposite her apartment. And did she find out about the job from her prospective employers? No, she found out from the one interviewee who knew the details (and who in turn had found out from a friend in the company).

- Work. I only found out my wife wasn’t coming with me to Qatar when I went to pick up the plane tickets.

- Law. Can you believe the only company in the country allowed to sell alcohol claimed not to know anything about the laws regarding alcohol?

- Banks. When you leave the country you have to go through a long and lengthy process to cancel your bank account and credit card. What your bank (well, HSBC, anyway) doesn’t tell you is that they freeze your account for 30 days in the process, as my friend found out the day before he was due to go on holiday.

So next time you see a poster in the U.K. telling you the correct way to make a cup of tea safely – don’t complain. Better one extreme than the other.

Qatar Visitor bookshop.