Browsing 'Life' News

Chantelle D'mello

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Ramadan is less than a week away, and schedules in Qatar will change dramatically as people begin the fasting month.

Whether this is your first Ramadan in the country, or your fifteenth, here are some things you may want to keep in mind in the coming days.

The moon matters

Because the Islamic calendar is a lunar one, Ramadan won’t officially begin until the new moon is spotted.

Every year, Qatar’s Islamic affairs ministry sets a date for people to look for the crescent. This will likely be on Friday, May 26.


Ramadan moon (seven days in)

If the moon is seen after sunset, then fasting will begin on Saturday, May 27. Otherwise, the first day of fasting will be May 28.

Residents will also be asked to look to the sky to mark the end of Ramadan, which will be either 29 or 30 days long.

When it’s over, a days-long festival called Eid Al-Fitr begins. It is estimated to be around June 25 this year.

Shorter work and schooldays

By law, Qatar residents (whether they are fasting or not) are required to have abbreviated working days during Ramadan.

For the public sector such as government ministries, that means five hours a day, from 9am to 2pm.


Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Private sector employees usually get a 36-hour workweek, which means their workday goes from eight hours to six. However, this isn’t always the case.

Those who don’t get shorter hours during Ramadan are usually entitled to compensation or extra vacation days, but check with your employer to see how you’ll be affected.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Children’s days will also be reduced to five hours, whether they are in independent, private or international schools, with a handful of exceptions.

No eating or drinking in public

In Qatar and some other Gulf countries, it’s illegal for adults to drink or eat (or chew gum or smoke) in public during the fasting day. Those who do can be fined.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

This can pose a problem for people who aren’t fasting, including non-Muslims and Muslims who are sick, pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating.

Some workplaces have special areas for employees to eat lunch, but others prefer to wait until their shortened workday is over to eat at home.

Most restaurants are closed during the day in Ramadan (as are many shops), but some will offer takeaway services. Stay tuned for our Ramadan opening hours guide, which will have a list of those places.

No booze

Muslims aren’t allowed to drink alcohol, and Qatar honors this by going dry for the duration of Ramadan.

This means hotel restaurants won’t be selling drinks and the Qatar Distribution Co. (the only place where booze is sold for home consumption) will be closed until Eid.

Andreas Levers / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The last shopping day at QDC is Thursday, May 25. It will reopen the second day of Eid. Expect long lines outside the warehouse in the coming week as people stock up on their spirits.

Hours are 9am to 9pm Saturday to Thursday and 3 to 9pm on Fridays.

Traffic patterns change

Since this Ramadan is during the school year, lots of people won’t be leaving Qatar for vacation until Eid or beyond.

So traffic will still be busy in the mornings, though it might build later than usual because government offices don’t get started until 9am.

Sanjiban Ghosh/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

There’s also going to be a lot of congestion at night as people go out to meet friends and family, shop and run errands. For those who wish to avoid gridlock, try to stay off the roads after 8pm.

Another fraught time period is the half hour before iftar, which is going to be around 6:20pm when Ramadan starts.

Lots of hungry people are rushing to get home or to someone’s house to break their fast, and they don’t always drive very safely.

Cool traditions

Though things can get pretty mellow in Ramadan, there are some unique things to check out during the month.

For example, people like to gather around a cannon at the State Mosque around sunset that goes off when it’s time to break the fast.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Ramadan cannon at State Mosque

Another interesting tradition is the Ramadan car parade, in which young people cruise down the Corniche in their classic or luxury vehicles about an hour before iftar.

There’s also the Garangao festival for children in the middle of the month.

Additionally, most restaurants usually stay open late, hotels have lavish iftar and sahoor buffets and venues like Katara Cultural Village and the Aspire Zone usually hold Ramadan-centric activities.

People try to be better

Muslims believe Ramadan is a special month to practice generosity and build up spirituality and closeness with God.

More people will be spending time in the mosques during the evening, especially as we get closer to Eid. This is also one of the two times of the year that the Emir officially pardons prisoners (the other is National Day).

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

Ramadan 2015 Charity Iftar

And lots of local charities also host large iftar dinners for blue-collar workers in Qatar during this month.

You can do your part by being more considerate of others, ensuring your househelp gets enough time off during the month and donating your time or money to help the less fortunate.

What does Ramadan mean to you? Thoughts?

Sulieman Fayyad‎

The road sign, before it was changed

A new temporary sign posted near the Al Saad Sports Club elicited chuckles from several passersby this week.

The sign, which read “In Arabic/New Road Layout Ahead,” appears to be missing the actual Arabic translation of the message.

“I stopped my car when I saw it because I was about to get myself killed from laughter,” local resident Sulieman Fayyad told Doha News. “I couldn’t believe that I actually saw that. Then I drove around again to take a photo.”

Fayyad shared the picture, which he took on Wednesday, on the Facebook group When, Where and How in Doha, where it drew over 1,000 likes.

Sulieman Fayyad‎

The new road sign

However, Fayyad said that when he drove past the same spot on Thursday, the sign had been replaced with the one above.

Lost in translation

This is not the first amusing error on a sign in the multilingual city of Doha, of course.

Qatar residents have a long history of looking on the funny side of some very human mistakes.

There’s this translation from the Thai Snack menu, for example:

An image from the Thai Snack menu

The writing on this tanker:


A tanker with a translation issue

And this impressive effort to brand this pick-up truck. So close, and yet so far:

Victoria Scott

A pick-up truck with an identity crisis

Have you spotted any good bloopers around Qatar?

We’d love to see them. Please email them to [email protected] or comment below.



New Khalifa Stadium

From taking a look at Qatar’s first World Cup stadium to enjoying a Jay Sean concert to checking out the latest in wedding fashion, there is lots to do around town during the last weekend before Ramadan.

Here are our picks:

Emir Cup final

After three years of renovations ahead of the World Cup, Khalifa International Stadium will reopen to the public for the Emir Cup final on Friday, May 19.

During the match, Al Rayyan will face off against Al Sadd, which is led by former FC Barcelona player Xavi.

Opening ceremonies begin at 6:30pm, and kickoff is at 7pm.

Tickets are already on sale at Villaggio and City Center malls and cost QR30/person. They are also currently being sold at Souq Waqif and at the stadium during the day of the event.

Jay Sean concert

British singer and songwriter Jay Sean is set to perform weekend at The W Doha Hotel’s Crystal Lounge.

Known for his creative fusion of contemporary R&B, British hip hop and Indian music, Jay Sean will take the stage Thursday, May 18 from 9pm to 2am.

Entrance fee for males is QR200, but free for ladies. Only those ages 21 and above and with a membership card will be allowed entry.

For more information or reservations, see the event’s Facebook page or call 44535353 or WhatsApp 55003898.

Wedding expo

The 10th International Wedding Exhibition (IWED) and Fashion Show Doha will kick off on Thursday, May 18 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center in Dafna.


Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The event focuses on the latest wedding-related trends and will be selling goods and services to shoppers. There’s also a pampering area where beauty tips and ideas will be offered by professional experts and stylists.

The exhibition is free and open from noon to 10pm on Thursday, from 3pm to 10pm on Friday and from noon to 10pm on Saturday. Fashion shows will be held from 5pm to 9pm each day. More information is here.

Calligraphy exhibition

A new exhibition featuring intricate calligraphic artworks dating from the 1960s until today is now open at the Qatar Museums (QM) Gallery Al Riwaq.

Currently, more than 200 works collected by the renowned Turkish expert Mehmet Çebi are on display.

Qatar Museums

Art from Contemporary Calligraphy – Mehmet Cebi Collection

The pieces include an assortment of Hilye-i Şerif (The Noble Hilya), which is also known as a form of classic calligraphic art. There is also a section of tasbih (prayer beads), which are used by Muslims for ruminative prayer.

The exhibition, called Contemporary Calligraphy – Mehmet Cebi Collection, will run until June 17. More information about it is here. 

Al Riwaq is open from 10:30am to 7pm from Sunday to Thursday (but is closed on Tuesdays); 2pm to 9pm on Fridays; and noon to 9pm on Saturdays.

Movie Magic concert

Qatar’s largest and oldest amateur choir Doha Singers will perform some of Hollywood’s popular hits this weekend at Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC).

Titled Movie Magic: Your Favorite Hollywood Hits, the concert will feature songs from films such as Dirty Dancing, An Officer and a Gentleman, Love Actually, Titanic, Skyfall and others.

The concert will take place on Friday, May 19 at 4:30pm. Tickets cost QR120 each and are being sold at Lagoona, Landmark, Villaggio, City Center, and Doha Festival City malls. For more information, email [email protected] or see the event’s Facebook page.

Free film screening

The Doha Film Institute (DFI) will screen The Poot this weekend, a 40-minute Iranian documentary about Persian carpets.

Doha Film Institute

The Poot

The documentary is being shown as part of the Museum of Islamic Art’s Imperial Threads: Motifs and Artisans from Turkey, Iran and India exhibition.

It demonstrates how carpets, in some place, are still intricately woven by hand, and follows the sequence of its making from start to finish. This includes grinding plants into a powder of a dozen different colors to the “weaving and the smoothing of the final product with a sharp knife.”

Four screenings will be held at the Museum of Islamic Art Auditorium on Thursday and Friday, May 18 and 19. Only one screening will take place on Thursday, which starts at 7:30pm. Friday’s screening times are 3:30pm, 5:30pm and 7:30pm.

The film is free and open to all, but those who wish to attend should reserve seats in advance here.

QPO concert

The Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) will perform Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird this weekend at the Katara Opera House.


Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra

Conducted by Dmitrij Kitajenko, the concert will take place on Saturday, May 20 starting 7:30pm. Other music pieces will also be played, with more information here.

Ticket prices range between QR75 and QR200 and can be bought here.


  • Community food market: The Strongbox Gym at Al Jazi Gardens is hosting a community food market on Friday, May 19 from 4pm to 8pm. Guests are invited to indulge in different healthy foods while their kids engage in arts and crafts. The event will also feature a barbecue, a swimming pool and will sell products from an organic farm. Entrance is free for all. More information here.
  • QMA End of Year Ceremony: The Qatar Music Academy (QMA) will perform its End of Year Ceremony this Saturday, May 20 at QNCC’s Auditorium 3 from 3:30pm to 4:30pm. Seniors will be performing a selection of both Arabic and Western repertoire. Entry is free of charge and seats are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

What are your plans for the weekend? Thoughts?