Local Customs and Traditions in Qatar for Newcomers

First-timers in Qatar will have a lot of adjustments once they set foot here. Aside from the temperature, the culture is different from one’s home country.

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Whether you are a visitor or working in Qatar for the first time, you would be able to adjust quickly. But you should be familiar with the usual practices of the people around you. Don’t worry, since you can adapt to these practices eventually.

use an app to find your way

Get to Know the Country

You can avoid culture shock even if it is your first time setting foot in Qatar. Take time to know traditions, informal customs, and other practices of old-timers. Pretty soon, you will get the hang of things. You will no longer feel bewildered as you explore the country.

Here are some things to help you get started:

  • You will notice that most buildings have the same paint color. In some areas, buildings have the same design. If you are the type to use the building façade as your landmark, you might find yourself lost if you still use this system. Why not remember the exact address of your destination? Or use an app to find your way.
  • You cannot take pictures of people without their consent. Some buildings in Qatar prohibit picture taking for safety reasons. These could be government buildings or military sites. Some parts of the airport and shopping malls do not allow picture taking.
  • There are mosques in every corner. In a few days, you will remember the prayer timings of our Muslim brothers and sisters.
  • You might want to steer clear of the mosques on Fridays. If not, you might not get to your destination until they finish their prayers. You will have to wait for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • You will see plenty of luxury cars on the streets. The vehicle of choice is a land cruiser.
  • There is no pedestrian crossing on most streets. But you will also not see pedestrians walking along the street.
  • Rest day at work is on Friday, not Sunday.
  • The cars plying on the streets of Qatar are either luxury cars or economy cars. You will hardly see mid-price cars.
  • Some offices have a separate line for men and women.
  • Male Qataris wear thobe.
  • Qatari women wear a shayla, or a black headdress to cover their heads. They also wear a bourga to cover their face.
  • Expats are not required to wear traditional clothing nor cover their faces. But they should dress modestly and tastefully.
  • Shaking of hands will depend on the gender and religion of both parties. Men do not usually shake hands with women. But it is permitted if the woman extends her hand first. Arab men and women sometimes prefer putting their hands on their hearts to greet.
  • Smoking is allowed in the country.
  • Old-timers believe that there are more cars than people in Qatar. Thus, it can be challenging to find a parking space in malls, especially on weekends. If you are in the city, you will feel this dilemma.
  • Expect to flood on the street when it rains.

You will surely have mentors to help you get acquainted. When you know your way around, pay it forward and help the next newcomer.

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