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Travel and Leisure

Qatari Culture – A Must-Know Before Visiting Qatar

You’ve booked your flight, made reservations at the hotel you’ll stay in, and looked up which restaurants to go to, but have you read about their culture?

Travelling to a different country without learning about the culture is like eating a cream-filled doughnut but not knowing what the flavour is. Sucks, right? Fret not, you came to the right place.

Today we’ll cover the vibrant Qatari culture and social norms and etiquettes to save you from embarrassment in public gatherings or places.

Historical Check

  • Even though Qatar is the wealthiest country in the world today, it wasn’t always so. It was one of the poorest countries in the Middle East until oil and gas were discovered.
  • The primary occupation of Qatar was fishing; sea fishing or pearl fishing.
  • Qatar got its independence on September 3rd 1971 and celebrates its Independence Day on December 18th.

Language & Religion

Qatar’s official language is Arabic. However, English is also quite widely spoken. In case you don’t know the essential survival words in Arabic, the chances are very high that you’ll find an English speaking local.

A few minority languages include Persian and Urdu.

The official religion is Islam. Qatar welcomes people from all over the globe regardless of religion, but keep in mind that you should always respect the people’s Islamic faith and their country.

National Identity & Beliefs

Qataris take pride in who they are and where they come from. You should know this if you plan on impressing a local family or a local group of friends.

The Qatari people come from the descent of Bedouin; generous Arab-speaking nomads who were known for their hospitality and resided in the Middle East. For them, the family is the foundation of their success.

When it comes to beliefs, most of the Qatari people tend to be conservative. Traditions are valued and followed in all aspects of life.

Qatari Cuisine

You can find all sorts of dishes in Qatar since it has a diverse culinary scene, but don’t forget to indulge in their local delicacies which is often a fusion of Irani and Indian cuisine due to its proximity to each other.

Qatar is famous for its toothsome dates and healthy seafood. Majority of the restaurants serve dates before or after the meal as a complimentary snack which signifies the Bedouin lifestyle.

Some restaurants also offer fresh almonds and sour apples!

The traditional dish of Qatar is Machbous. It’s usually served on a big platter with seafood.

Coffee is vital for any local to go with their meal. The Qatari people like their coffee light-roasted with a hint of cardamom flavour in a thimble-shaped cup. There is hope for coffee-heads!

There’s hope for coffee lovers! Coffee is vital for any local to go with their meal. The Qatari people like their coffee light-roasted with a hint of cardamom flavour in a thimble-shaped cup.

If you want a sweet or flavorful punch in your coffee, try their Qahwa Helw.

Meet, Greet, and Attire

Keeping in mind Qatar’s conservative heritage, this is probably the most crucial part of the topic.

A handshake with an acquaintance might suffice, but it’s best to let the Qatari person take the lead.

Men usually greet each other with a handshake or a kiss on the right cheek (three times). Women do the same, but they can also extend a hug.

People of the opposite gender usually do not initiate any physical content. Some women are comfortable shaking hands with men, and some are not. Vice versa for men, so don’t take it personally if the greeting doesn’t go as expected.

Being mindful that Qatar is an Islamic country, it encourages its people to wear the national dress, which is a full-length robe for men and women – it’s optional, but encouraged.

Dress code is taken very seriously in Qatar, and guidelines must be followed. For example, a skirt should not be shorter than knee-length, and the sleeves of a top must not be any less than half.

Fun Fact

Qatar did not have a single hospital up until 1947. They had to travel to other countries to seek medical care.

Qatar is a beautiful country with jaw-dropping skyscrapers and rich cuisine. Other than learning about their culture, don’t forget to make an itinerary for your stay.

You can buy sim cards at the airport when you arrive and call one of the car rental companies in Doha to rent a car.

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