First and foremost, for anyone who plans to visit any Muslim country, such as Qatar and other countries in the Middle East, you have to recognize that Islamic laws and Muslim culture are very conservative. This easily translates to the people’s way of thinking, behaviour, and even dressing up in public.
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On that note, we must all learn to respect the locals’ values and culture, so as not to cause any form of misunderstanding, or worse — even, get into trouble with the law. Yes, this could really happen so beware!
[Culture] Respect the Qatari People’s Dress Code
Figuring out what’s allowed and what isn’t is quite simple, since the government has consciously launched initiatives on a regular basis to help other nationalities and tourists understand the local culture, and also to guide them accordingly.
For a time, the government even had a slogan which said, ‘Reflect your Respect’ in an effort to educate tourists on what types of clothing are allowed and those that are not.
Under the campaign of Qatar’s Islamic Culture Centre, leaflets that share the message: “If you are in Qatar, you are one of us. Help us preserve Qatar’s culture and values; please dress modestly in public places” were distributed to foreigners and tourists to help them become aware of the dress code.
The campaign, which had been launched in 2014, has taken on various forms and approach in instilling the acceptable way of dressing up in the country.
Understanding the Dress Code Based on the Law
Despite being a country of multinational colours, Article 57 of Qatari Law clearly stipulates that compliance with the laws issued by Public Authorities, abiding by the requirements of public order and public decorum, as well as the observance of national traditions and deep-rooted customs are duties of everyone residing in the State of Qatar or entering its territory.
And while some foreigners may view Qatari laws as too stringent, even oppressive to outsiders, it has always been this way since Qataris adhere to the Sharia law, and they do not wish for their children to become exposed to what they consider as immodest clothing.
Figuring out what is acceptable from what is not in terms of clothing is simply a matter of decency (meaning – the lesser skin revealed, the better).
With that, revealing clothes that expose the knees and shoulders such as short dresses, mini-skirts, cropped tops and sleeveless tops are not allowed for women. Also, women should try to avoid wearing tight-hugging clothes (even leggings/“jeggings”), as well as those that cover too little of the legs down to the knees. Needless to say, see-through clothes are out of the question.
On the other hand, men are also prohibited from wearing shorts (knees exposed), as well as vest tops that expose the chest.
If you’d like to avoid receiving unnecessary attention especially from the police, it would be best to comply with the dress code in the country.
To be on the safe side: Wear clothes with decent necklines and regular sleeves. Also, remember to keep your legs and knees covered.
As much as the locals make an effort to be warm and welcoming, tourists and expats are also expected to comply with the host nation’s laws and customs. This is a very important sign of respect, not only to the people but more importantly to their culture.