Qatar Local Laws and Customs
Qatari people are of Arabic origin, and their culture is very much founded on Islamic values and customs. Islam dominates day-to-day life by providing guidelines on what is acceptable to wear, eat, and drink. Qataris are very generous and hospitable people. Visitors will find Qatar to be a very welcoming country.
Although there is no requirement for men or women to dress in the traditional abaya or dishdha, many Qataris choose to wear their traditional dress. Men generally wear a long white robe called a dishdha and a headdress called a gutra. Women will generally wear a long black abaya, which is a long, loose black robe, which covers most of the body, except the face, hands, and feet. Some women choose to wear a thin black veil over the face.
Foreigners are not expected to wear traditional Qatari clothing. However, they are expected to remain respectful. This means that men should avoid wearing shorts and going around topless in public. Women should avoid tight-fitting clothes that may reveal the chest, legs, or shoulders.
Pork is not allowed in Qatar, and cannot be found anywhere. It is illegal to bring it into the country. Muslims are not allowed to eat any meat that is not in accordance with the Islamic code. All good must be “halaal.”
Aside from tasty Qatari local food, Qatar is also home to a diverse mix of ethnicities, which means that it is easy to find food from all around the world. With the high number of South East Asians who reside here, Qatar has some of the best Thai and Indian food in the world.
Alcohol is available, but only in hotels and licensed areas. If you are resident, you can also apply for an alcohol permit, which allows you to have alcohol in your home. It is illegal to bring alcohol into the country.
Working hours are different in Qatar. The weekends are on Friday and Saturday, and the work day starts quite early. Do bot be surprised if someone schedules a meeting at 7am.
In the peak of summer, many small stores and businesses will only be open from 8am to 12pm and 4pm to 8pm. During the break, many people take a nap to avoid the heat.
If you are having a meal with a Qatari, do not face the bottoms of your feet. It is a sign of disrespect.
Do not eat with your left hand. The left hand is seen as the “dirty hand.” Likewise, do not shake hands, receive or give a package with your left hand.
It is custom to argue for the bill. However, if your Qatari friend genuinely insists on paying for a meal or giving you a gift, allow him. Qatari people are very hospitable.