Qatar warmly welcomes visitors from across the world to its beautiful and cultural country. There’s much to see and enjoy, but ensure to be mindful of the country’s religious and cultural norms.
use greetings and formalities as they are particularly important when dealing with Arabs. It is considered impolite to start any conversation or request without at least saying ‘Good morning’. Make an effort to learn about the ways, traditions, customs and religion of your host country.
be mindful when talking to or asking local or Arab women for information or directions, if you are a man. Respect the fact some women in this region are private people in public places. They are more than willing to help other women, so if you are in a mixed group, let the women do the talking!
dress modestly in Qatar, which is a Muslim country with conservative dress codes for both males and females. Avoid shorts and short skirts, strapless and crop tops and other forms of revealing and transparent clothing especially to work, schools, malls, parks and other family-friendly destinations. Government offices will turn away people for inappropriate clothing.
avoid public displays of affection (PDA) as any intimacy in public can be considered as an act of obscenity. This can lead to arrest and a potential court case, which can include a fine, a custodial sentence and deportation once the sentence is complete.
bargain with shopkeepers in local souqs. Always counter the original offer with a lower price than you expect to pay and work slowly upwards to what you wish to spend.
look out for separate counters and sections for men and women in banks, ministries and other public service centres.
enjoy the outdoors as much as you can during winter. In the summer, temperatures reach over 40°C and humidity over 50%. During this season, make the most of doing outdoor activities such as going to beaches, walking in parks or dining al fresco.
look or stare at people closely especially women. This general courtesy is particularly important in a society where modesty in dress and behaviour is mandatory.
be offended if your handshake is refused by the opposite sex. Handshakes are often refused to members of the opposite sex. It is a religious and cultural prohibition applicable to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
take photographs or videos without permission of people (including the police or armed forces) or sensitive sites in public or private spaces. Many men and women here are private and strongly object to being photographed or videographed.
sit with the soles of your shoes or feet facing towards your hosts; it is considered insulting. Equally, don’t sit with your back to other guests.
drink too much alcohol so that your behaviour is affected in public. There are stiff fines for consuming alcohol other than on licensed premises. Alcohol in Qatar is a strictly regulated concession and there is zero tolerance for drink-driving, drunkenness or rowdy behaviour. The country also applies a zero-tolerance policy to drugs.
play loud music whether outside or inside your home at anytime. This is especially important during the athan or call to prayer, which takes place five times a day. You can be penalised for playing loud music outdoors whether in your car or in public spaces.
forget to read about the Public Hygiene Law with violations up to QAR25,000 and jail sentences. Do not throw or leave waste on the streets or public spaces, or hang clothes on balconies overlooking roads or public places. Spitting in public spaces is also prohibited.