Know the Dress Code if You Work and Live in Qatar

Being an Islamic country, Qatar follows a very traditional mode of dressing. In fact, Qataris are encouraging tourists and expats alike to respect their culture and dress modestly, especially in public.

They even had a slogan ‘Reflect your Respect’ to call out to tourists of what is and what is not an acceptable style of clothing that is sensitive to the culture of Islam.

Respecting Culture: How to Dress in Qatar for Tourists and Expats

As part of the campaign to ensure that tourists and expats follow their dress code, Qatar’s Islamic Culture Center took the initiative to educate foreigners on the proper clothing when in Qatar.

Leaflets that say, “If you are in Qatar, you are one of us. Help us preserve Qatar’s culture and values, please dress modestly in public places” were handed out to foreign people for them to be aware of the dress code.

The campaign was first launched in 2014, and they try to revive it every year. Even the campaign slogan has been changed last year to ‘You matter in Qatar’ to urge visitors and residents to wear decent clothes and show respect for the country’s tradition. And all these years, the country’s stand on the dress code remains the same.

The Law and the Dress Code

Despite becoming a multi-cultural country, and with expats expecting Qatar to accommodate the culture of other people, Article 57 of the constitution is very strict with its stipulation that compliance with the laws issued by the Public Authorities, abiding by the requirements of public order and public decorum, and observing national traditions and deep-rooted customs are duties of all who reside in the State of Qatar or enter its territory.

The restrictions may be viewed as too oppressive by foreign people, but the Qataris adhere to Sharia law, and they don’t want their kids to be exposed to what they considered immodest clothing.

What is Proper and What is Not

If you are a newcomer in Qatar, you might not yet be aware of the proper dress code. It is not directly stated in their constitution, but as part of their culture, some modern styles of clothing are deemed not acceptable in this Islamic country.

 Clothes exposing the legs and shoulders are banned in Qatar ©Fashionby He/Flickr

Revealing clothes that expose the knees and shoulders such as short dresses, mini-skirts, crop tops and sleeveless shirts are banned for women. They should also avoid wearing clothes that are too tight and too short. See-through clothes are a definite no-no. And women, no leggings please.

      Shorts exposing the knees and sleeveless shirts are forbidden for men ©Gareth Williams/Flickr

Men, on the other hand, are forbidden to wear shorts (with knees exposed) and vest tops that expose the chest.

To avoid getting the attention of police officials, it is better to follow the proper way of clothing. It’s just very simple actually: Wear clothes with decent neckline and with knees and shoulders not showing off. For tourists and expats, it is best advised that you dress up smart casually especially when going out in public places.

                                                        Traditional Qatari clothing ©Jay Galvin/Flickr


Observing the Culture and Traditions

It is not only with the style of clothing that Qatar is censuring. Uttering “indecent phrases” or doing anything thought obscene in public such as kissing or displaying physical intimacy are also forbidden. If caught, one has to pay a fine and serve up to six months in prison.

And when visiting historical places in this Islamic country, it is best to observe their traditions and show respect to their culture.

It is an old cliché, but for tourists and expats, always remember: ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do.’