In The Glow: A guide on how to dress in Qatar

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AngelPolacco

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Like many countries in the GCC, Qatar advocates modest and conservative dress. As Qatar is an Islamic country, it’s courteous to adhere to the religion’s and culture’s norms. Some expats might perceive this in a negative way, particularly considering the climate and high temperatures. However, most see this as a way to get creative!

Most Qataris wear traditional dress on a day-to-day basis. The traditional dress consists of the thobe (for men) and the abaya and shayla (for women). Expats in Qatar don’t have to wear the traditional dress, but it’s recommended that they dress modestly, so this means covering shoulders and wearing below knee-length trousers and skirts. 

It’s an important reminder that expats respect the culture in Qatar. A few years ago, there was a community campaign that advocated a more strict dress code — which was the result of many people wearing inappropriate attire in public places around Qatar. The campaign was called “reflect your respect”, and propagated 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.” While the campaign was short-lived, it was very widespread. 

Although the dress code is not as heavily enforced now, many public places, like parks and malls, usually have a sign up reminding visitors about modest clothing. Government establishments and ministries also require a dress code. While people dress a bit more openly at private establishments such as hotels, and even wear bikinis at hotel pools, it’s not common to see in public spaces. 

Casual wear 

For casual wear, and in warmer temperatures, it’s both comfortable and practical to wear loose pants and white clothing. The most recent trend for women in the fashion world is to wear culottes, which is perfect for a place like Doha as it’s ankle or shin length, loose, and fashionable. Women also wear maxi dresses with a kimono or throw-over on top, if the dress is sleeveless. For men, cargo pants or khakis are a favorable choice, especially during the summer months. 

Professional attire

In a professional environment, women usually wear semiformal attire, which includes appropriate dresses, blouses, skirts below the knee, and loose trousers or dress pants. Men normally wear dress shirts, polos, and dress pants. Professional environments do vary, some workspaces are more casual than others so people tend to dress more casually. 

Formal occasions 

Most formal occasions usually take place at private establishments, so the dress code is a bit more flexible. It’s always better to carry a shawl or throw-over to cover if you’re wearing a sleeveless dress or gown. Men tend to wear suits or tuxedos to formal occasions. 

Sportswear 

For sports or athletic activities, the attire is generally more catered to the activity you’re participating in, particularly at private gyms or sports clubs. Of course, it’s not recommended that the sportswear be too tight-fitted or revealing. Most swimming pools are fine with one piece bathing suits, but it’s always safer to check beforehand. When swimming at public beaches, you should wear shorts and a top. You can wear bikinis and swimming trunks on private beaches or at private swimming pools.

If you’re worried about the heat, you can find comfort in the fact that mostly all malls and indoor locations have centralized air conditioning. Doha’s winter season, which is fast approaching, is absolute bliss. The mercury levels drop and all of a sudden, it’s sweater weather! The desert winter can be a bit chilly, so make sure you keep warm when the season is upon us!

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