Do’s and Don’t:
- Use greetings and formalities as they are particularly important when dealing with Arabs. It is considered impolite to start any conversation or request without at least saying "Good Morning”. Make an effort to learn the ways, traditions, customs and religion of your host country.
- Dress modestly in Qatar, which is a Muslim country with conservative dress codes. Loose trousers are acceptable for women, but avoid shorts and short skirts, strappy low-cut tops, see-through and transparent clothes.
- Hail Karwa turquoise taxis, which is safe, clean and metered. The majority of the drivers speak English. When ordering a taxi by phone do so well in advance as delays can occur.
- Bargain with shopkeers which is the norm here in the souqs. Always counter the original offer with a lower price than you expect to pay and work slowly upwards to what you wish to spend.
- Watch out for separate counters and sections for women in banks and utilities.
- Enjoy Qatar at night as it is one of the safest places in the world and during the hot summer and Ramadan you will see people around town well into the early mornings.
- Drink plenty of water in addition to other beverages. As temperatures reach over 40˚C you need at least two litres a day.
- Use a high-factor sunblock on all exposed skin year round. Don’t forget the tops of your feet if wearing sandals. Children and fair-skinned people also need a hat or cap.
- Remember the air-conditioning which can chill you at restaurants, cinemas and malls. Take along a light jacket or sweater as a precaution.
- Look or stare at people closely no matter how fascinating their dress. This general courtesy is particularly important in a society where modesty in dress and behaviour is mandatory.
- Ask an Arab lady for information or directions if you are a man. Respect the fact some Arab ladies are private people in public places. They are more then willing to help other females, so if you are family let your wife do the talking!
- Be offended if your handshake is refused by a Muslim. Handshakes are most often refused to members of the opposite sex. It is not meant personally, but simply a religious prohibition applicable to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
- Take a photograph without permission of either people (including police and armed forces) or sensitive sites. Arab women and many older people strongly object to being photographed.
- Be annoyed if your guest / contact is late – just remember time is more elastic in Qatar.
- Use your left hand for eating with your fingers with Muslims. The right hand is considered more appropriate as the left hand is reserved for personal hygiene.
- Sit with the soles of your shoes or feet pointing out to your Qatari hosts; it is considered insulting. Equally, don’t sit with your back to your guests.
- Drink too much alcohol so that your behaviour is affected in public. Alcohol in Qatar is a strictly regulated concession and there is a zero tolerance for drunk-driving, drunkenness or rowdy behaviour.
- Go barefoot in the sea where stonefish (which looks like stones)lie along the shoreline. Although rare, the poisonous defence mechanism causes excruciating pain and needs a hospital visit. Also be on the lookout for jellyfish, particularly in the summer months.