Customs and traditions
According to Abbreviationfinder, 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).
- Countryaah: 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.
According to Countryaah, 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.