Many Filipino expats dream of working in Qatar. They have heard a lot of good things about the country, including the high salaries, fancy tourist destinations, the amazing culture, and so much more. When you’re traveling to Qatar, it is important to know what you shouldn’t do while staying in the country.
The primary thing you need to consider is that Qatar is primarily an Islamic country. That means you have to be familiar with the laws and customs of Islamic culture. In general, Qatar culture is very conservative, but not super stiff or strict. As long as you use your common sense regarding how to behave, what to wear, and other considerations, then you’ll be fine.
What to Avoid Doing While in Qatar
The following are some specific behaviors you should avoid doing to show that you respect the laws and the customs of Qatar.
1. Filming or Photographing Etiquette
Before you start filming or taking pictures in Qatar, you should be sensitive enough to recognize the country’s culture. Don’t take pictures of the locals, religious sites, construction sites, or military sites. There have been grave consequences, i.e. arrested by the police, for some tourists who have recklessly taken pictures of these sites.
If you are a journalist, however, you must first contact QNA, or the Qatar News Agency. They will give you a visiting press permit before you enter the country, allowing you to bring your cameras or other related equipment through customs.
2. Don’t Import Illegal Materials
Illegal materials include religious books, pork products, alcohol, drugs and videos with lewd content. Once you enter the country through the Doha Airport, your luggage is scanned automatically. If you’re bringing DVDs they can check it and censor if necessary. If you’re bringing drugs (!), then the consequences are severe, and you will be imprisoned.
3. Don’t Drink and Get Drunk
This doesn’t mean you can’t drink alcohol. You can, but only in places licensed to serve these drinks. Such places include bars and restaurants, and with a permit, expats are allowed to buy alcohol. If you visit a bar, show your ID that proves you are 21 years old or older.
4. Don’t Dress Improperly
As an Islamic nation, Qatar is strict when it comes to what you wear. You don’t have to wear the clothes worn by the Qatari locals, but you have to dress modestly. For example, for women, be sure that your clothes cover your shoulders and knees. This is true even when you’re driving.
5. Don’t be Rude
Being rude includes swearing in public, making vulgar gestures, posting materials online that seem to be culturally insensitive, and public display of affection. Also, don’t talk to women in public if you’re not really related to them. Moreover, when you’re sitting down, don’t stretch your legs so that other people see the soles of your shoes.
Many foreigners get culture shock once they arrive in Qatar. But it doesn’t need to be too hard. You should learn to blend in, be patient, and soon you will blend in perfectly and have a great time in the fascinating country of Qatar.