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Travel guide: Qatar

Discovery 13 May 2016
Due to the significant population of expatriates in Qatar, the country has grown considerably tolerant of different cultures. It is important to remember however, the respect for Islam and the rules contained within which is prevalent across Qatar – both by native Qataris, and those who have embraced the unique culture and lifestyle associated with these rules. Here are a few things to consider when visiting Qatar so as not to disturb this unique balance.

When to go
Qatar features a particularly hot climate, with temperatures in the summer (low) season ranging from 37°C to 42°C on average. The mildest temperatures are experienced between December and February, in which reasonable temperatures of 21°C to 24°C are common. Temperatures between November and April are typically the best, though it corresponds to the peak period for tourism.

There is an abundance of activities and excursions in Qatar. Excursions typically focus on the beauty of the region, either atop sand vehicles or luxury boats, while Doha boasts a rich array of sporting events and impressive cultural centres.

The local currency is the Qatari Riyal. It is extremely unlikely that US dollars will be accepted, though Visa and MasterCard are typically accepted at department stores and restaurants.

Local Laws
The sale and possession of alcohol is prohibited outside of the few authorised outlets typically contained within tourist hotels of three star and upwards. Residents may purchase alcohol from limited outlets following the acquisition of an official permit for the legal purchase of alcohol. Similarly pork is only available to non-Muslims at authorised distributors.

Qatar operates a zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Public displays of affection are prohibited, and should be confined to the privacy of one’s private dwelling.

During Ramadan, it is prohibited to consume food and beverage or smoke in public between sunrise and sunset. Even those who aren’t Muslim and don’t participate in the festival must abide by these rules and confine any daytime consumption to their private dwelling.

Despite the tolerance known throughout the region, it is considered good etiquette to dress modestly when in public. Swimwear should only be worn at hotels or beaches.

Acknowledgement and respect for the more relaxed, slower pace of life in Qatar is extremely important, both for the enjoyment of the culture as well as understanding etiquette. It is generally frowned upon to rush someone else or otherwise impose one’s own schedule upon another.

It is always polite to accept demonstrations of hospitality, including food or beverage. Declining such offers can sometimes cause offense to the host.

[apromo w="qatar"]It is generally frowned upon for a man to touch a woman, given they are not married. When greeting a woman in Qatar it is good etiquette to wait for an invitation before extending one’s hand to shake.

Like many eastern regions, the feet are typically considered unclean and lowly when compared to the head. It is important to keep one’s feet firmly planted on the ground and never point one’s feet, heels or soles at another person, particularly when in a meeting regarding business matters.