Traditional shops at Souq Waqif
Traditional shops at Souq Waqif

Is Qatar Safe For Tourists to Visit in 2023?

Looking to explore a unique destination that blends modern architecture, a rich culture, and diverse landscapes? Look no further than Qatar, a small yet prosperous country known as the ‘Pearl of the Gulf.’ This ‘pearl’ has become an increasingly popular hub and destination for globetrotters, with Hamad International Airport receiving 35 million passengers in 2022 and the city basking in the global spotlight as the host of the 2022 World Cup. Yet some may still have safety concerns due to past conflicts in other parts of the Middle East.

Is Qatar a safe place to visit? The short answer is ‘yes,’ but we’ve taken a close look to provide you with all the information you will need to make an informed decision before booking a flight.

Table of Contents

    Is Qatar safe?

    As you consider a trip to Qatar, the question of how safe it is may cross your mind. The answer is a resounding ‘yes!’ According to Numbeo, a crowd-sourced database, Qatar tops the list among the world’s 142 major countries as the safest country in the world. It’s ranked as safer than many countries with a deserved reputations for low crime rates, such as Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, and the Scandinavian countries. Due to Qatar’s exceedingly low crime rate, it’s held the top spot in Numbeo’s Safety Index ranking for the past five years.

    Infographic showing the safety index rankings of various countries in 2023
    Infographic showing the safety index rankings of various countries in 2023

    Not only is the country safe. Doha, Qatar’s capital city, has earned its own impressive ranking as the second-safest city in the world. The top-10 ranking includes three UAE cities—first-place Abu Dhabi along with Sharjah and Dubai—as well as perennially safe European cities such as Zurich and Munich.

    Compared to megacities like New York City, where the crime rate is nearly seven times higher, Doha boasts a significantly lower crime rate. Even cities like London and Paris fare worse than the Big Apple in terms of crime statistics. So, while a bit of caution is always wise, there’s no need to let safety concerns put the brakes on your exploration of this amazing destination.

    A comparison of the perceived crime rates in New York and Doha
    A comparison of the perceived crime rates in New York and Doha

    But How Safe Is Qatar for Tourists?

    Never mind the World Cup; Qatar welcomes millions of visitors every year. Whether you’re exploring the bustling streets of Souq Waqif or basking in the sun on the serene beaches of Khor Al Adaid, you will be quite safe as a tourist in Qatar.

    Souq Waqif

    It is also reassuring to note that the United States Embassy has granted Qatar a Level One Advisory, which means that travelers only need to take standard precautions while visiting the country. As of March 2023, Canada, Switzerland. and Ireland also had Level One Advisory status, while countries including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom were determined to be riskier for tourists, meriting a Level Two Advisory designation (“Exercise Increased Caution”).

    Of course, even though it may be the safest country in the world, safety should be a priority. While pickpocketing and other forms of theft are rare in Doha, visitors should still take precautions when exploring crowded public places like markets. If you can avoid carrying large sums of cash and keep your belongings close at all times, rest assured that your trip should go smoothly.

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    Is Qatar Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

    Qatar is considered a safe destination for solo female travelers. Posts on show that women traveling alone in Qatar report feeling very safe, with some even claiming to feel safer than they do back home in Europe or the United States. The data shows that they are right to feel that way.

    Nonetheless, it is important for women to be aware of the cultural norms in this socially conservative country, and there are few things to know as a woman traveling to Qatar. Women are expected to dress modestly in public areas, covering their shoulders, chest, and knees with appropriate clothing. While Qatar is an Islamic country, its residents are quite tolerant regarding how women dress. There is no need for women tourists to wear an abaya (full-length black cloak) or a hijab (headscarf) except when visiting a mosque. At hotels and resorts, the women’s dress code is very relaxed, with bikinis allowed poolside and casual clothing perfectly acceptable in restaurants and gyms.

    For women and men alike, it is also wise to avoid walking alone in isolated areas late at night and instead opt for reputable transportation services such as taxis or Uber.

    Taxis in Doha

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Is Qatar safe at night?

    Qatar is a safe country at night, according to reports by many locals and expats on TripAdvisor and Quora. The streets of Doha are well-lit, and there is a visible police presence. As with any other country, however, visitors should exercise caution and avoid walking alone in isolated areas.

    Are there any areas to avoid in Qatar?

    There are no specific areas that tourists need to avoid. This is confirmed not only by the very low crime rate but also by locals and expats on various forums.

    Is it safe to travel to the desert in Qatar?

    For adventurous travelers seeking a taste of the exotic, a journey into the desert in Qatar can be an unforgettable experience and is one of the best things to do in Qatar. However, safety should always be a top priority when exploring such rugged terrain. It’s therefore highly recommended to avoid venturing into the desert without a knowledgeable guide to avoid taking unnecessary risks. Guides can not only offer fascinating insights into the local flora and fauna; they can also ensure your safety should the unexpected occur. To further mitigate the risks of desert travel in Qatar, it’s advisable to purchase comprehensive travel insurance that includes coverage for outdoor activities and medical emergencies. Additionally, travelers should have a reliable source of communication at all times, such as a fully-charged mobile phone, and carry plenty of water and snacks to stay hydrated and nourished during the journey.

    Sealine Beach in Mesaieed
    Sealine Beach in Mesaieed

    Is it safe to drive in Qatar?

    Driving in Qatar as a tourist can be a convenient and enjoyable way to explore the country, especially if you want to get out of Doha. But it’s important to be aware of the local laws and customs. The roads in Qatar are generally well-maintained, with very modern highways and city streets that are easy to navigate. Driving speed is monitored via radar, so don’t think about speeding as speeding is heavily fined. In addition, driving with any amount of alcohol, drugs, or other psychotropic substances in your system is illegal.

    Shops and parking area around the Pearl Qatar
    A street at the Pearl-Qatar

    Is it safe to fly through Qatar?

    Now that you know that Qatar is the world’s safest country and that Doha is the world’s second-safest city, you might still wonder about the airport if you’re planning a stopover or layover. Well, Hamad International Airport in Doha is not only secure but modern and efficient. It’s consistently ranked among the best airports in the world, while Qatar Airways, the nation’s flagship airline, has been named the world’s best airline.

    Is it safe to sleep at the airport?

    All travelers, including women, can feel safe sleeping inside Doha’s Hamad International Airport. However, it’s far more comfortable to sleep in a hotel room that you book in advance if you have a long layover or want to get quality sleep. If you choose to sleep at the airport because the layover is too short to bother with a hotel room, it’s best to find a quiet area and keep your belongings close at all times. An alternative is to stay at the luxurious Oryx Airport Hotel, which is conveniently located within the airport. It offers six room types, a fitness center, and spa services. If you’re interested in recreational facilities, you may also consider Oryx Garden Hotel which opened in September 2022 as part of the expansion of the airport and features a 25-meter swimming pool, a fitness center, a spa and a squash court! It’s open from 6am to 2am every day but there are plenty of other things to do in case you don’t know what to do in Doha airport overnight.

    Are Qataris friendly to Americans?

    The nation of Qatar maintains such strong ties with the United States that Al Udeid Air Base, the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East, is based in Qatar, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of Doha. More importantly, all Americans are welcomed as visitors or expats. In fact, many Americans live and work in Qatar, particularly in the petrochemical, banking/financial services, law, healthcare, education, and technology industries.

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