Plenty of expats turn to Qatar as one of the places to go for employment opportunities. For Overseas Filipino Workers alone, there are over 300,000 who are registered residents in this country in the Middle East. If you’re planning to visit Qatar, you should know about their laws and culture.
The country is officially the State of Qatar and is predominantly Islamic. Qatar has the highest income among the countries of the world. We list some important information about certain do’s and dont’s to make you aware on how to behave.
How to Behave in Qatar: Culture and Law
The capital city is Doha and is an open city for businesses and foreigners alike. Observing prevailing local customs is important for visitors and workers alike. Here are some do’s and don’t’s when you are in Qatar:
DO’s Here are some important things to do.
- Drink a lot of water because of the soaring heat. Drink at least two liters of water or beverages a day to keep yourself hydrated.
- Use sunblock with enough sun protection factor (SPF) to keep your skin protected.
- Use greetings and formalities when conversing with the natives. Always greet them first with a “Good morning” or a “Good afternoon” before speaking to them. This is considered good manners.
- Learn about the ways of the natives, the way they dress, the way they speak and the way they worship.
- As you are in a Muslim country, dress modestly. Men can wear jeans and slacks and shirts. Women should refrain from wearing revealing clothes such as low-cut tops, short shorts and skirts above the knee. Women’s clothes should cover the shoulders, knees and upper arms when in public.
- Learn how to haggle with shopkeepers. Do not pay the first amount quoted by the shopkeepers. Start lower than your ideal price and come up slowly until you reach a deal.
- Do not line up with the women in the bank counters. There are separate lines for men in banks and payment centers.
DON’T’S. On the other hand, here are some things you have to avoid doing in public while you are in Qatar. Remember these things as it can spare you time behind bars.
- Do not speak to women whom you have no relationship especially in public. Never touch a woman who is not related to you. The penalty is high and authorities are strict with their enforcement.
- Do not take photographs of people in public. Do not photograph police officers or military installations. They are sensitive areas.
- Never rush things in Qatar. They are accustomed to flexible time concepts. Do not get mad when people are late to meetings – just go with the flow.
- Don’t even think of eating with your left hand. Qataris frown on this because the left hand is reserved for personal hygiene. Use your right hand instead and make sure it is clean before you dive in.
- When sitting, don’t stretch your feet with the soles facing your hosts. And make sure that you see everyone. It is impolite to sit with your back facing them.
- For crying out loud, do not drink alcoholic beverages in public. Do it at your apartments or in private clubs. And if you do drink in private clubs, make sure you’re not the one driving and you still have control of your faculties.
- Do not attempt to sneak in liquor to Qatar. You’ll get in trouble because all luggage are thoroughly scanned in all entry points to the country.
- Do not engage in public homosexual relationships as this is very taboo in Qatari culture.
- Never refuse an invitation from a Qatari to visit his house.
Culture Shock & Learning to Adapt to Customs
At first, many foreigners get culture shocked when they arrive in Qatar because of the differences. However, they learn to adapt to the prevailing culture. Learning the ways of native Qataris is important to fully be immersed in your work and in the community.
Never question the norms in Qatar because you’ll never get anywhere arguing. Learn to go with the flow and learn the nuances of their culture. You will never go wrong with trying to blend in. As a proverb states, the nail that sticks out gets hammered. Blend in, don’t stand out and you’ll have a great time in Qatar. We hope you find this guide helpful as you plan your journey here.