Ethics and Social Codes of Conduct

There are certain ethics and social codes that visitors and new residents in Qatar should observe. They should know that courtesy and hospitality are of the virtues that are highly appreciated and respected in the Arab world. They will surely feel how friendly and gentle the Qatari people are.

A visitor or a resident in Qatar is required to observe the following codes of conduct:

  • Costume: It is expected that you wear decent clothes and women should avoid wearing any garments that are too tight, too short or translucent such as mini-skirts or sleeveless dresses. Both men and women should also avoid walking around in their swimming suits away from beaches or swimming pools.
  • Car driving: motorists should not insult others or showing extreme anger while driving as this may subject him/her to severe penalties including imprisonment. Traffic violations are also punishable and may have severe consequences penalties; for example, crossing the red traffic light may lead to jail and vehicle seizure.
  • Alcohol: Non- Muslims are permitted to have alcoholic drinks at hotels (provided there is a special permit for this) or their homes. However, it is prohibited to drive a car while or after drinking, or appear in public while drunk.
  • Ramadan: This holy month of Ramadan is a celebration of the first revelation of the Holy Quran. It is also the sacred fasting month for Muslims during which they abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dust. Non-Muslims are not required to fast during the month, however, they should abstain from eating, drinking and smoking in public.
  • Other religions: Though Islam is the official religion of Qatar in accordance with the Qatari constitution, other religions are completely respected and tolerated. Qatar has allowed the establishment of a church in its territory.
  • National holidays: National days represent the most important Islamic and national events. As Islamic calendar depends on the sighting of the phases of the moon, the corresponding Gregorian dates of such days vary from year to another.
  • Entering an Arab guest room (majlis): One should not forget to take off his shoes as he gets in a Majlis (the place of receiving guests in a private house). If a woman accompanies you, you should direct her to another hall for ladies. Take some food or drink before you talk about anything. Sharing your host a meal would please him.

Other Tips

  • Some emotions may not be publicly expressed; because this may subject you to be arrested and jailed as per the Law.
  • Avoid taking photographs of military installations or other people, especially Arab ladies.
  • It is important that you stand up to greet or welcome new comers, particularly the elderly people or high ranking people. You should initiate the Islamic greeting ‘Salamu alaykum’ to the older people. Men should also stand up when women get in.
  • When a man meets a Qatari woman, he should avoid shaking hand with her unless she first offers her hand for shaking.
  • In hand-shaking or greeting, it is traditional that both parties ask about each other’s health. Therefore, you should not jump to talking about work before that.
  • Use your right hand to accept drinks offered to you; and similarly, you are naturally expected to use your right hand when eating and when handing over something.
  • You should not offer your Muslim guests any alcoholic drinks or foods with pig meat contents.
  • You should not lift your shoes in front of people or make a gesture with your feet to anyone.
  • You should avoid use your finger to ask (gesture) anyone to come to you; instead you may use your hand-palm.
  • One should shake the (Arabian) coffee cup if you do not want more.