Qatar sits in the heart of the Arabian Gulf, connected by land to Saudi Arabia and in close proximity to the Tropic of Cancer. It experiences desert climates with sunshine almost year-round, and the occasional dust storm thrown in.
Visitors should expect long, hot summers followed by mild winters. But does that mean you can only visit Qatar during the cooler months?
Certainly, the cooler months from late October through to April are the most pleasant. However, increasingly there are more attractions open year-round and Qatar has its open lights on 24/7.
In this post, we will talk you through what to expect throughout the year, both in terms of climate in Qatar, holidays and events to be aware of.
How hot does Qatar get in the summer?
Peak summer temperatures in Qatar can average 45c (113F), so it’s a case of life moving indoors during those hottest months, outdoor activities during the peak of the day are all but unbearable.
You will find a lot of the expat population use this time to leave the country, and everything really slows down across the city.
That said, it’s also your best opportunity to snap up a bargain-priced resort or short getaway. DOH airport still runs at its busiest, ferrying passengers across the airways over summer. You will still find plenty of things going on in Qatar to make it worth a stop.
You will find there is quite a dry heat at the start of summer, changing to ultra humid and sticky as August and September roll on. There is sudden relief come mid-October and temperatures will drop.
Note that sea temperatures will be high as well. You can expect ocean temperatures to rise as high as 34c (93F) so don’t go planning a refreshing open dip mid-summer (and check your hotel has a temperature-controlled pool!)
Thinking of driving in Qatar? Check out our guide to desert driving in the heat.
Qatar in the winter
Qatar in the cooler winter months can be a beautiful place to be, an ideal mid-winter escape (and still quite pleasant during school term breaks too); end of October half term and the Spring Break are perfect times to plan a visit.
Day time temperatures really start to fall back to the low 30’s by the end of October, and to around the low 20’s by December/January. These pleasant conditions last until around the end of April, by May things really heat up again to 40c+.
Careful of planning anything to do with the resorts or beaches though mid-winter, you may find this a little on the chilly side (though coming from the coldest parts of Europe it will probably feel tropical!!)
Winter is the perfect time to head out to some of the more remote parts of Qatar, including the inland sea, or north to visit some of the historic points such as Al-Zubarah Fort. We have a great guide here of things you can do all around Qatar.
The springtime also sees the Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) and many festive events across the city as well as international sporting events.
The country is gearing up ready for World Cup 2022, which will take place during the cooler winter months for the first time (Slated in for 21 November to 18 December 2022).
Does it rain in Qatar?
Yes! It might take you by surprise, but rain is possible over the cooler winter months (or it could stay completely dry!)
We wouldn’t recommend packing your umbrella just in case – but do expect sheer pandamonium if it does as buildings are put to the water-tight test; roads become easily flooded and most drivers don’t know how to react.
Does Qatar get dust storms?
Very much so. This occurs largely in the spring to summer period, but can occur at any time of year. Qatar can be susceptible to the Shamal – a northwesterly wind that blows over Iraq and the Persian Gulf states.
Those with respiratory conditions such as asthma should keep abreast of the AQI if it’s dusty out.
Public and school holidays in Qatar
Although the country follows the Gregorian calendar (January through December), the Hijri calendar is observed for religious occasions.
Religious holidays in Qatar
The main observances are:
- The holy month of Ramadan
- Eid al-Fitr
- Arafat Day & Eid al-Adha
- Hijri New Year
- Mawlid al-Nabi al-Sharif – the Prophets birthday
These dates move forward on the Gregorian calendar approximately 10 days each year.
Actual dates are not confirmed until the moon is sighted, and the Government may move the actual dates that the public holiday is observed.
Qatar also celebrates:
- New Year’s Day on 1 January
- National Sports Day on 13 February
- Qatar National Day on 18 December
School holidays in Qatar
School holidays are set by the Supreme Education Council and the Ministry of Education. Most schools run on a three-term calendar. They will have a winter term, take a few weeks off over mid-December to January (coincidentally Christmas, it is not formally marked). Term 2 then runs through until late March. There is a spring break in early April (again, only coincidence if it’s at Easter) then a longer summer break over July and August. You can check current year dates here.
Also, note that the weekend is Friday/Saturday making these days much busier than during the week Sunday through Thursday.
What to expect in Qatar during Ramadan
It’s important to note as a visitor when the Holy Month of Ramadan will occur as there are slight modifications in behaviour required. The 9th month in the Hijri calendar is a period of deep religious reflection for Muslims and is strictly observed.
Ramadan in 2020 will start approximately 23 April and end 23 May.
The most important thing to observe is fasting with no eating or drinking in public permitted. There should also be no public displays of affection and ensure you are dressed modestly – more so than usual.
The other thing you may observe is that many businesses and attractions are closed during the day and only open in the evening. That said, most tourist attractions are now keeping normal operating hours during the holy month. It is more so local businesses, government offices and schools that are impacted by the change in hours.
There is no reason not to visit during Ramadan. It can be a great time to enjoy the local culture, join in with a traditional Iftar (the evening breaking of the fast) and overnight festivities that last well into the night, especially on weekends. But do note the change in hours and dress code.
It is still a more conservative place than Dubai so expect hotels to have covered dining areas.
Read more about visiting Qatar and Doha:
- How to do a short stopover in Doha
- Things to do in Doha with kids
- Top things to do and places to visit around Qatar
- What to wear when visiting Doha
- Our complete Qatar with Kids guide
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