Customs and traditions
Today's Qatar is one of the richest countries
in the world, where conservative and traditional values
still sit deep; a big challenge for the emir is to get
everyone involved in the modernization of the country.
Islam plays a major role in society. Nine out of ten
Qatari citizens are Sunni Muslims and belong to the
Orthodox and Puritan direction of Wahhabism, which is,
however, practiced less strictly in Qatar than in the
country of origin Saudi Arabia.
In the multicultural Qatar there is a tolerance for
other peoples and customs and a great hospitality. At
the same time there are misunderstandings: the Qatari
itself constitutes only about a quarter of the
population, the rest are guest workers from mainly Asia
and other Arab countries, and the guest workers are not
always treated well. They are not covered by all state
benefits that the Qatari itself has (see Labor Market).
Overview of the capital city of Qatar, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Greetings and attire
Greeting properly is important in Qatar, so let the
greeting take time. Men take each other's hand but a man
does not first take a woman in hand but lets her decide.
It is not uncommon for male friends to hold hands.
However, homosexuality is prohibited by law and there is
widespread intolerance in society against LGBTQ persons.
Although Qatar is relatively liberal compared to many
other countries in the region, respect for local culture
should be respected. It is considered rude to point at
someone or sit so that you show the shoe soles (or the
foot soles if you have taken off your shoes).
Everyday, the Qatari wear traditional clothing: men
wear long, white shirts (which have many names,
including thawb / thobe or
dishdasha) over white pants. For this they carry
the headscarf (ghutra) which is held in place
with four black braided cords with tassels (agal
or 'iqal). Women wear a long black abaya,
some also have facial veil (yashmak).
For parties, the clothes often have embroidery in gold
and silver. However, many Qatarians dress as in the
West, especially in international business contexts. You
can dress elegantly, but conservatively.
A common dish is macbus, rice and spices
with chicken, lamb or fish in a tasty sauce. Seafood
caught locally is also popular as are the locally grown
dates, khabis, in many different varieties. The
Qatari itself rarely drinks alcohol, but it is available
at many restaurants and bars. In contrast, drink a lot
of coffee: usually weak but flavored with cardamom, or
black and strong with lots of sugar.
Men are often met in cafes, where many Qatarians can
be seen smoking hookah (shisha) and finger on
their rosebands (misbah).
Working life / business meetings
In Qatar, status and wealth play a major role. In the
hierarchical order prevailing in Qatari companies, the
highest, often the oldest, directors meet with great
respect and decide more or less unanimously. Qatari can
be quite formal, so at a first business meeting you are
addressed / should be addressed by title (in Qatar, for
example, sheikh / shaykh); later you can change
to first name. On such an occasion, one should not talk
business either, but it is primarily for getting to know
the counterparty. It is also best to avoid sensitive
topics such as politics or religion; to ask about the
family and tell them if their own usually works well.
A business deal usually includes lengthy
negotiations, and meetings - as well as decisions -
often extend over time. Qatarians often take light
punctuality, which should not be taken as a lack of
respect. Many meetings also take place in the evening.
In a negotiation one should never say "no" or something
negative without first wrapping it up. It is important
to stick to oral promises and agreements.
Holidays and symbols
The most important holidays are the Muslims, who vary
from year to year, depending on the Islamic lunar
calendar. The lunar year is shorter than the Christian
year, so the weekends fall a little earlier for each
year. They include laylat al-miraj (the
Prophet's Ascension), the month of Ramadan, which
concludes with the feast of id-al-fitr and the
great sacrificial feast at ad-adha.
A special holiday for Qatar is the national sports
day on the second Tuesday in February, when the
Qatarians can try a variety of training activities and
ball sports, go for walks and get tips on healthy food
and more. The reason is, according to the
sports-interested emir, that in rich Qatar, more and
more people suffer from illnesses of well-being because
they move too little and eat too much good food.
December 18 celebrates National Day. Then you can see
everywhere the Qatari flag in burgundy and white (the
burgundy must first have been red, which would symbolize
the blood spilled by Qatari in war, but in the strong
sunlight the red color soon came to look burgundy and it
was felt equally good to also officially change color).
Press Freedom Institute opens
The Doha Center for Press Freedom opens with support from the emir. It is an
institute that will work for freedom of the press and offer help to threatened
journalists. The Institute opens under the direction of Robert Ménard,
previously associated with Reporters Without Borders. However, he resigns
already in June and believes that the institute has been subject to pressure
from the Qatari authorities.
New electoral law is adopted
A new electoral law is enacted which will ensure that the parliamentary
elections are kept in line with the new constitution. However, the election is
postponed as the mandate of the current advisory assembly is extended.
Christian operations in Qatar
The first Christian church in Qatar is allowed to be established. Christians
were previously not allowed to openly show their faith.