Living in Qatar- a guide to expat etiquette


As Qatar continues to become one of the premier locations for international expatriates, and an excellent place to create and develop wealth, it’s worth remembering that, as with all parts of the United Arab Emirates, culture is very different to that of the west.

With culture come social boundaries and standards of etiquette, and in the UAE these are often completely different to what you might be used to back home. Also, if you happen to cross these boundaries, then the consequences could be severe. The UAE is very proud of its traditions and customs, and does not take kindly to foreigners who flaunt these rules- break the rules and you could easily end up with a fine, in court or even in jail.

For this blunt reason, it’s incredibly important that you are aware of the many aspect of Emirati culture that should be respected, so to help you do t his we have created a list of ten important guidelines.

1. Business meetings are often conducted at a slower pace than those in the West. Also, refreshments are first enjoyed in a relaxed manner are before the business topics are raised
2. Moments of silence come often, and contrary to the west they are welcomed as points of reflection, as opposed to moments of awkwardness
3. It is inappropriate to touch members of the opposite sex in public, especially a female dressed in traditional Muslim attire
4. Public displays of affection between members of the opposite sex are a strict no-no in the UAE. This includes innocent actions such as holding hands and soft kisses. However, it is customary for male friends to greet each other with kisses on the cheeks.
5. It is recommended that you dress modestly at all times, this is especially the case for women.
6. As an expatriate, do not attempt to fit in by wearing traditional Qatari clothing is this will be seen as disrespectful.
7. Photography can also create problems in Qatar. If taking photos of local sights be careful to avoid snapping local people, especially women, as this can cause great offence. Also, taking pictures of military and government buildings is strictly forbidden.
8. If you are offered food or drink, always accept, as declining will be seen as an insult.
9. If at a social function, be aware of the manner in which you are sitting, and do not point the soles of your feet at another person, another insulting gesture
10. While you are permitted to drink alcohol, you must only do this either in your expat compound or in a licensed establishment, you are also required to have an alcohol permit

While there are customs that should be adhered to, Qatar is undoubtedly one of the best places to work in the world at the moment. The economy is bustling, development is thriving, and expats are highly regarded.