Qatar is a rapidly changing and developing country. Tourists who want to explore and see the uniqueness of this country, you must remember that it still IS a CONSERVATIVE country that wishes to preserve its tradition and honor. Here we list some points for you to keep in mind especially as a first-time visitor.
Tips When Visiting Qatar for the First Time
You have to keep in mind that it is an Islamic country you are visiting, so showing skin more than what is deemed acceptable is a definite NO-NO. In fact, for women, you might be asked to wear pashmina to cover yourself up. Make sure to bring one wherever you go, they always come in handy. You can wear swimsuits, even bikinis, in beaches and hotel pools. Discretion is still advised, so no scantily clad and topless swimming please.
Like in many countries, some historical, military and religious landmarks are not open for public photography. We have to show respect to these rules, so before taking a ‘selfie’ or ‘groupfie’ be sure to ask permission from authorities to avoid getting into trouble and disrupt your fun travel. Taking pictures of people, especially Muslim women without their knowledge are not encouraged. Be polite enough to ask their consent before you take your souvenir shot.
Hand gestures are people’s way to relay messages that they can’t express in words especially in a foreign country with a different language. Qatar is no different, but you have to be very cautious in using hand gestures and body language whenever you communicate with the locals. It is not common for people here to easily shake hands with foreigners, so it is better to keep your hands to yourself in meeting them. Wait for them to offer their hands before you offer yours, especially with Muslim women. They remain private people even in public places. Bold hand gestures are also not encouraged to express your thoughts. If you want to avoid staying in prison and pay a fine, avoid showing the peace sign, more so the middle finger when you get frustrated. At all times, show respect to everyone.
Displaying lewd behavior in public is also prohibited. That means no kissing, fondling or smooching between couples, even husbands and wives. Save your sweetness in the privacy of your hotel room as long as you are in this country. In public though, they allow holding hands and a simple peck on the cheek, but nothing more.
Drink moderately. Keep this in mind whenever you have the urge to lavish in alcohol in this strict country. It is illegal and punishable offence to get heavily drunk in public places in Qatar. There is also zero tolerance in drunk driving, so better opt for Safe Drive Service that the country offers for tourist who have tendency to splurge in alcoholic beverages.
As in all Arab or Muslim countries, pork, in whatever form, is strictly prohibited in this country. It will just be for a time, so refrain from bringing in food with pork as an ingredient. You might be held-up at the airport when they detected it from your luggage.
Following the guidelines above will surely make your trip in Qatar a fun and enjoyable experience that would be worth a space in your treasure box of memories.