Global Rescue, the world’s leading travel risk and crisis management firm, released its risk assessment for the 2022 FIFA World Cup scheduled to take place in Qatar between November 20th and December 18th.
“There are special international entry requirements for travelers to Qatar whether your trip is for the World Cup or not,” said Kent Webber, senior manager of Intelligence Services at Global Rescue and a former senior intelligence operations officer in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence at the Pentagon.
“Travelers entering Qatar after November 1st will need to have a Hayya card and a passport, regardless of the purpose of the visit. Qatar Airways has optimized flights to prepare for an influx of travelers during the World Cup,” Webber said, referring to the FIFA World Cup 2022 Risk Assessment.
“Travelers are not required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or to present negative COVID-19 test results upon arrival. But the contact-tracing app Ehteraz is required for entry into healthcare facilities,” said Josh Hennessy, an intelligence services analyst at Global Rescue and a former Arabian Peninsula Team editor for Tesla Government Inc.
The country’s risk of crime and civil unrest is low; despite regional terrorist threats, no major attacks have been reported in Qatar since 2005. “Nevertheless, travelers to Qatar must become familiar with the local laws, many of which are vastly different from those in North America and Europe,” Webber said.
Several things that are legal in the U.S. and other countries are illegal in Qatar. For example, it is illegal to criticize the government or damage flags. There is zero tolerance for drug-related offenses.
“If you are bringing prescription medication into Qatar, ensure you carry your official doctor’s prescription, hospital note, or a doctor’s letter detailing the drug, the quantity prescribed, and dosage,” Hennessy said.
“Drinking alcohol in public is a crime but alcohol is available at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, as well as at the Arcadia Festival and FIFA Fan Festival. Alcohol may also be available in hospitality boxes within stadiums,” Hennessy added.
The Risk Assessment points out that if you’re planning to use social media or your laptop while in Qatar then be advised that VPNs are illegal and online posts that appear to insult, slander, or are culturally insensitive may result in a prison sentence. Travelers should dress conservatively in public spaces to respect local practices. Female travelers should cover their shoulders and avoid wearing short skirts. Public displays of affection are considered offensive and could result in legal action.
“The laws of your home country don’t travel with you — that’s why knowing the local laws of Qatar is critical before traveling there,” said Dan Richards, Global Rescue’s CEO.
Medical facilities have a high standard of care. Hamad General Hospital in Doha is an internationally accredited facility with English-speaking staff. Medical services include a 24/7 emergency room, general surgery, emergency ambulance service, invasive cardiology readiness, neurosurgery readiness, and trauma surgery readiness. Hamad General Hospital is equipped with advanced diagnostic technology, and the standard of care is generally high. The facility’s Emergency Department is one of the busiest in the world, and wait times may fluctuate.
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