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Posted On: 15 November 2021 04:00 pm
Updated On: 24 November 2021 02:43 pm

Things to keep in mind for first time visitors to Qatar

Vrinda Abilash
Vrinda Abilash
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Are you travelling to Qatar for the first time anytime soon or will you be here for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™? Every country has its own set of things to keep in mind when you visit and Qatar is no exception. There are local laws, customs, and traditions that one needs to respect and follow when they're here.

The ILoveQatar.net (ILQ) team has put together a list of things to keep in mind and to remember during your stay in Qatar. Read on to find out all about it, happy visiting!

Drinking is banned in public places

Things to keep in mind for first time visitor to Qatar
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Qatar is an Islamic country and the laws and customs reflect that here. It is illegal to drink alcoholic beverages or to be seen drunk in public. As per 270 Article on the Qatari Legal Portal - Al Meezan, “whoever drinks any enhanced beverages in a public place shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months and/or a fine not exceeding three thousand Qatari Riyals (QR 3,000). The same penalty will apply to any person who is found drunk on the main road or, is intoxicated and disturbs others.”

It is only available at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and expats living in Qatar can obtain it on a permit system. You are not allowed to carry alcoholic beverages around with you and places serving alcohol will ask for original photo ID too.

No drugs

Things to keep in mind for first time visitor to Qatar
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Qatar has imposed harsh penalties for the possession, use, and trafficking of illegal drugs. As per Article 35, anyone possessing, buying, or selling drugs for trade purposes will be jailed for at least 10 years, but not more than 20 years, and will also be fined between QR 200,000 to QR 400,000.

Smoking

Things to keep in mind for first time visitor to Qatar
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As per Article 12, smoking is prohibited in closed public places such as hospitals, health centers, Ministries, government agencies, public organizations, public shops, elevators, cinemas, and theaters, shopping malls, etc.

No gambling

Things to keep in mind for first time visitor to Qatar
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Gambling is also not allowed in Qatar. Article 274 says that “Gambling means any game in which the probability of gain and loss depends on uncontrolled chance and each party agrees to give an amount of money or any other benefit to be agreed upon, in case of loss, to the winning party.”

As per 275 Article, "whoever gambles shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months and a fine not exceeding three thousand Qatari Riyals (QR 3,000) or one of these two penalties. if gambling occurs in a public place and performed openly or in any place or house-made for this purpose the imprisonment can be extended to six months and/or a fine not exceeding six thousand Qatari Riyals (QR 6,000).”

Article 277 stipulates that “for gambling and drinking offenses, the court shall confiscate the materials, money, and equipment used in the offense and shall order the closure of the place where the offense has occurred, and which may only be re-opened for a legal purpose after the approval of the Office of Public Prosecution.”

No Pork Products

Things to keep in mind for first time visitors to Qatar
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As an Islamic country, you are banned from bringing pork and pork products into the country. It is also not served in restaurants and hotels. You must have a license to be allowed to buy pork in Qatar. Expats living here can obtain it on a permit system.

No PDA

Things to keep in mind for first time visitors to Qatar
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Personal displays of affection in public places are not encouraged in Qatar. Be wary of your surroundings and respect the local culture when you are visiting.

No littering and leaving waste in public areas

The Ministry of Municipality in Qatar has strict laws about littering and not disposing of your trash properly and has announced hefty fines under Law No. 18 of 2017 on Public Hygiene. You could face a penalty of QR 10,000 for different violations. Be responsible and do not litter.

Dress code in Qatar

Things to keep in mind for first time visitor to Qatar
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In Qatar, you should dress modestly in a public setting. Men and women are advised not to wear clothes that are too short or too revealing. Women should cover their shoulders and avoid wearing short skirts. If you do not dress modestly, you may be asked to leave or denied entry to certain locations. Dressing modestly is also very important during the holy month of Ramadan in the country.

    Photography

    Things to keep in mind for first time visitor to Qatar
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    While taking touristy photographs is acceptable, taking photographs or clips in a public place with the intention of offending or defaming is punishable by up to two years' imprisonment and a fine of not more than QR 10,000 or one of the penalties.

    As per lawyer and legal counsel Ahmed Abdullah Al-Subaey, it is a criminal offence to photograph an individual without prior permission or registration. Be cautious and avoid taking pictures of the locals, especially Qatari women, many of them don't like being photographed. For security reasons, you should avoid taking pictures of government institutions, some archaeological sites, and sensitive or protected areas like military sites, etc.

    Offensive gestures

    Things to keep in mind for first time visitor to Qatar
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    Pointing fingers at someone is also considered rude in Qatar, so try and avoid that. Never sit with your legs crossed in such a way that the foot of one leg is resting on the knee of the other leg, with the foot facing another person's face. This is considered an insult by the locals.

    Tipping

    Traditionally, there is no tipping in Qatar, but you will come across expats tipping in restaurants, cafes and other places. There is no fixed amount or percentage that you have to tip - it's entirely up to you.

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    Reference: Al Meezan