I have been in Doha for almost a month now, and these are 7 incidents that I have encountered during my stay, and the more I speak to people, the more standard thse experiences seem.
Know Your Audience
Try to know what is socially appropriate to talk about and with whom. You may need to filter yourself a little more in Qatar.
So the other day a friend and I, who are both new to Doha, decided to walk to City Center from Tornado Tower and it’s a few minute walk, so we thought it was okay, but little did we know that walking outside attracts loads of attention. We still do walk, but just be ready for tons of stares as if you are doing something outrageous.
When I enter the elevator at my office building and there is a lady with abaya in the elevator and I am uncovered, every man that enters the elevator will stand near you and give her space and respect. Expect crowded elevator rides, even if there are not many people here.
When another expat friend was new here, she used to wear shorter skirts and tops with high heeled boots, which is common attire where she came from. In Qatar, she attracted a LOT of attention as this is contrary to the cultural expectations of the nation. Qatar is rather conservative, so be aware.
You don’t have to wear abaya or sheila, but you must be aware of what is socially appropriate and not.
Traveling Here Alone
“You travelled here alone, as in without your family!?” This is a question that I get all the time, and it comes along with shock. I was surprised because I have been travelling alone since I was 16, but this is very typical reaction for this part of the globe.
So Why Qatar?
Get ready in advance to answer this question. I get asked this all of the time with a raised eyebrow, and immediately I turn into a brand ambassador for Qatar, explaining how great it is to come here and what experience I would get and so on. I find it quite funny that someone living in Qatar would ask me that, like “why Qatar out of all places?” It’s like you can’t be here because you want to be.
This, strangely enough, is a common occurrence. Don’t be frightened, Qatar is super safe. There are tons of stories of men who follow women in their cars. They won’t do anything or even get out of their cars, but it does happen. If you don’t acknowledge them they often disappear, but be aware of your surroundings and be safe!
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