Isn’t it exciting to imagine yourself having a unique, impressive, and unforgettable experience in the Islamic country of Qatar, the house of FIFA 2022? I’m sure it is! And if you are already planning your trip, we highly recommend that you take some time to learn about the rules and what to avoid in Qatar to have a pleasant vacation.
When you visit Qatar, it is highly likely that you will experience culture shock. It will certainly be different from what you are familiar with. But that is the charm of traveling! It exposes you to new things and will help you gain a profound understanding of the world. Besides, it isn’t a reason to not enjoy the country and the World Cup as much as you can.
However, planning your travels can also be challenging. There are several factors that you should take into consideration before arriving in the country, such as learning the language and Qatari culture.
So, today I will guide you through certain rules such as dress code, what to do and not do in tourist destinations, strict laws, affection and public display, and so on.
Relax, sit back and read on! As long as you know these rules, you won’t make any touristy mistakes abroad.
9 Rules You Should Know Before Traveling To Qatar
Qatar is a conservative country where you will have to follow strict laws and rules to about going through negative moments such as being reprimanded by authorities or, even worse, getting penalties. For foreigners, there’s nothing more terrifying than getting into trouble in another country. Our advice? Follow the tips we will cover here to make your trip a hassle-free experience.
1. Dress Code: Dress Modestly
Although it is a globalized country, its Islamic culture is well-marked. Therefore, the dress code should be a style sensitive to that culture. Try to dress modestly in public.
For example, women should avoid showing too much skin in public, especially shoulders, upper arms, and knees. Men, on the other hand, usually wear long trousers and shirts. Even leggings wouldn’t be well accepted.
However, this rule changes once you are in a private areas, such as your hotel, and clubs. If you go to the beach, you should check the dress code of the specific place. They usuall allow shorts, but not short sleeved shirts.
Nevertheless, you should be aware that if you want to sunbathe, being topless is a completely forbidden action in the country.
So, choose well before packing your clothes!
2. Don’t Drink Alcohol In Public Or Take Drugs
Before visiting Qatar, be aware that this country has zero-tolerance for the use or possession of drugs or even alcohol, and it is a serious offense to get drunk in public.
For many in other countries, things that might be common, like having a beer on the street, are prohibited in Qatar. It is also strictly prohibited to brew and traffic alcohol inside the country.
Furthermore, if you drink alcohol in public or drive under the influence of alcohol, you are going against the local laws and will, therefore, be severely punished, even by prison.
So, if you want a drink, you will need to be inside your hotel or bar and follow all regulations. There is also the possibility of buying it in a legal store and carrying it in your vehicle directly to your hotel or home.
3. Social Behaviour: Don’t Have Bad Manners
Manners are essential whenever you go. Acting according to the locals’ ways and customs will help you adapt faster, connect with people with no problems, and show respect for them and their culture.
In Qatar, the social norms are pretty straightforward regarding gender. Men and women are generally separated in public areas, with a traditional mindset that men have public space exclusively for them. In contrast, women have the role of wives in the household.
What about the greetings? If you are a man and meet an Arab man, you can exchange a shake of hands. But if you are meeting a woman, it is not common to shake hands, as men and women do not often greet each other this way.
If you are unsure, remember that while greeting someone of the opposite sex, you need to have more reserve than you would probably have back home. Especially if you come from cultures where kissing on the cheek and hugging are acceptable.
4. Don’t Reject An Invitation By A Qatari
Qatari people are very kind and care a lot about hospitality. It is a strong part of their culture that must be respected in the sense that if they are kind to you, you should accept it and be kind as well.
They will always welcome you with open arms. If a local invites you for tea, coffee, or food, you should always accept the cordial invitation with gratitude. Otherwise, you will be perceived as rude, and you might hurt their feelings as well.
5. Learn About Public Behavior
This can be pretty obvious for some people, but others need a reminder. It is important to have a neat and polite public display at all times. Do not swear in public or make vulgar gestures that may make people uncomfortable.
Additionally, you should be careful with anything that you post online, especially regarding Qatar’s culture and religion, as it will be seen as rude and culturally insensitive.
6. Don’t Bring In Illegal Items
All countries have a list of strictly illegal items that travelers are not allowed to bring within their borders. In the case of Qatar, be sure not to pack any of the following:
- Pork or products made of pork
- Alcoholic beverages
- Edible seeds
- Pornography, obscene material, and inappropriate content
- Religious books
- Hunting trophies
- Some medicine such as Morphine and Tramadol
It is common sense, but remember that all your baggage will be scanned in the Doha Airport ‘Hamad International Airport.’ If a person decides to travel with any of the objects mentioned above, they will have to face severe consequences.
There was a passenger who, according to the Peninsula Qatar, was found by Qatar airport customs with drugs trying to smuggle them in his stomach. So they will not miss anything for sure!
7. Be Careful With What You Photograph
Yes, taking pictures is also a significant detail you must be aware of in any tourist destination. Many foreigners get overly excited while traveling and take photos of almost everything without considering the local laws.
Whenever you want to photograph something in the country, you must seek permission in advance. For instance, taking pictures of people in a public place is a serious offense, and you will have to face the consequences.
Some places you can’t photograph are religious sites, shopping malls, external areas of the airport, military sites, construction sites, industrial areas, and Government buildings.
8. Bargain Correctly
In Qatar, you have it all about shopping, from fancy malls to the infamous authentic Middle East Market ‘Souq Waqif,’ one of the most famous attractions in the capital city, Doha.
I suggest practicing until you feel confident enough to test your haggling skills in the famous Souq of Doha. Once you travel to the country, you will notice how expensive shopping is. People often prefer to wait for sales at the malls instead of buying at the regular price. However, there are always cheaper options at the markets or Souq, where you can still bargain with the vendor regardless of price.
Some important tips to remember, though, is that vendors at Souq will treat locals and tourists differently in terms of accepting the bargain or not. In other words, if you look like a local, dress and act like one, they will understand that you have enough knowledge about bargaining and prices and will accept your offers. However, for inexperienced tourists, vendors will not be so easygoing.
Remember that once the vendor offers you the best price, you should continue trying to get it cheaper, as it will be considered an insult, and you may lose the bargain.
In addition, once you start bargaining, you should always end up buying something; otherwise, don’t waste time talking with the vendor.
9. Dining Etiquette
If you aren’t familiar with the Islamic culture but have heard a bit about food restrictions, you might be wondering if you will be able to find any meat in Qatar, and the answer is a rotund yes! In Qatar, you can find dishes with lamb and chicken meat that are ‘Halal’ (lawful and permitted).
Nevertheless, there are still some important rules and etiquette you must follow regarding food while visiting the country. After all, as a visitor, you want to pay respect to the culture of the country that is welcoming you. Besides, there might be surprising or rather shocking cultural things that would be best for you to know beforehand.
The first one is that you should always eat with your right hand. If you eat with your left hand, like me, you will understand when I say it isn’t such an easy task, so you better start practicing now! The reason for these customs is that the left hand is often considered unhygienic by many cultures.
In addition, it is common to see Qataris sharing food from the same huge plate as a form of bonding. For example, they can sit on the floor to enjoy mouth-watering Machboos (Rice with chicken).
You will also see people eating with their hands, although it depends on each household. You can opt to do the same, as many dishes are only eaten this way. In fact, as a way to show you how much they care and welcome you, locals might serve some food for you with their hands. Under any circumstance, decline this gesture, as you might be considered rude.
Finally, don’t forget to always express how thankful you are for the food by saying ‘Alhamdulilah,’ which means ‘thank you and praise be to God.’ Make sure to let the host hear you say it too!
Ready For Qatar And The World Cup? Learn Arabic Today
Now you are all set with the most important insights regarding this country, including what to avoid in Qatar. As a reminder, we urge you to be a good and respectful tourist to make your time in this Middle Eastern country as memorable as possible.
But, learning cultural aspects is not all you should know before packing your bags. What about learning the official language? If you plan to get around by only speaking English, think again! There are so many benefits to learning this centuries-old language that allows you to experience the Middle East from a different perspective.
Get closer to its people and culture, and inquire deeply into what this country can offer besides its globalized appearance. You will get to see its core and experience it all.
Free Arabic Lessons
Fifty Arabic lessons from beginner to advanced are currently available on the Ling App to boost your vocabulary before traveling to Qatar.
If you would love to access these offer, follow the steps below:
- Download the app from App Store or Play Store.
- Sign up and log in.
- Select Arabic among the languages to learn.
- Download the Arabic course.
- Begin your lessons and enjoy!
Ling Is The Perfect Language Learning Companion
It should be simpler to learn a language if you are surrounded by people who speak it. Typically, this is the case. Everyday life will test you frequently and expose you to new vocabulary. Every interaction with others will provide a chance to put your abilities to use, aiding in the practice and retention of what you already know.
Learning a new language is much easier whenever native speakers surround you. That is why many people travel to learn the languages they want to speak. Interactions are essential for our social lives and also to increase our language abilities.
But, to have more extended and fulfilling conversations with Arabic native speakers, you need to know some basics to form your sentences. Ling App can be your companion from this moment at your home, even while stepping on a soccer field in Qatar.
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Ready for the challenge?
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Ling will guide you through an unparalleled learning experience, full of fun, motivation, and practical vocabulary that will allow you to start conversations with Arabic language speakers, either during the World Cup or in any other of the 26 countries where Arabic is spoken. Arab.
Safe travels and happy learning!