Interesting article for those who are planning a trip to Qatar. I will tell you about the local people of Qatar, with interesting facts and peculiarities of communication with them. You will learn how well they know English, as you are unlikely to know Arabic, how punctual Qataris are, and their attitude towards female tourists. There will be a lot of useful information that will help you during your trip.

It will be difficult for you to plan your dream trip to Qatar without these websites

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Hotels in Doha

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Rent a car

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Tours and Activities

Local people of Qatar: general points

Here are the main facts that will help you understand many aspects of this article:

  • The population of Qatar is around 2.7 million people.
  • Slightly over 50% of the population lives in Doha, the capital city.
  • The main religion is Islam, with around 80% of the population. However, if we consider the native population of Qatar, then 99.9% are Muslims.

Now onto more interesting topics. I will tell you about the nationalities and citizenship of the country.

How to distinguish a Qatari from a Saudi
A beautiful picture that shows how to differentiate between the headwear of residents from different Arab countries. The Qataris are the ones pictured in the lower left corner. The red checkered kufis, commonly known as a souvenir that tourists bring back from Egypt, are actually worn by Qatari’s neighbors – the Saudis

If we take a breakdown of Qatar’s population by nationality, here’s what we find:

  • Arabs – 40%
  • Pakistanis – 20%
  • Indians – 18%
  • Iranians – 10%

These are the main nationalities in Qatar, but there’s one interesting feature that not many people know about. Out of the 2.7 million people living in Qatar, only 12-13% are Qatari citizens and indigenous residents. Everyone else are migrant workers who live and work there under official labor contracts, with residency and work permits. Qatari natives number only 300,000, with the rest being:

  • Pakistanis, Indians, Iranians, Sri Lankans, and quite a few expats from Europe, mainly in managerial positions in local companies, the oil and gas industry, and the medical field.

For reference, many people dream of Qatari citizenship, as it guarantees a rich and comfortable life. But obtaining it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for many. More information on this topic can be found in the article “Why is Qatar so rich?

Regarding the English language:

Almost everyone in Qatar knows English, at least on a basic level. Today, every sign, label, and inscription in the country is duplicated in English. Overall, without knowledge of Arabic, you won’t have any communication problems with the locals if you only speak English.

Basic rules of conduct in Qatar

I will only tell you the basic rules, as there are many of them and most of them won’t even apply to you. But if you happen to meet local residents, not migrants from Pakistan, but specifically Qataris, there are a few important points to keep in mind. You won’t be stoned for breaking customs, and you won’t be beaten with sticks in the square like 50 years ago, but they also won’t necessarily engage with you.

  • When meeting someone older, the younger person should always introduce themselves first.
  • Qataris are okay with the classic handshake. Hugging and kissing are only appropriate with close friends.

Important note:

All greetings, handshakes, giving gifts or just handing over something – all should be done with your right hand only. It’s best to hide your left hand and not use it. In Islam, it is considered a dirty hand. If you extend your left hand, they may not shake it, and it doesn’t matter if it’s clean 🙂
people of qatar
These men are not migrants, they are native Qataris.
  • There are many things you can’t do when interacting with a woman here, even if you think you can. The female body is taboo here!
    • Staring is not allowed. You can make eye contact when talking, but if a woman is unknown to you, you don’t need to stare at her and her burqa.
    • A man should greet a woman first.
    • Touching is not allowed! Any kind of touch, even just touching hands, is forbidden. Kissing is also not allowed.

Important note:

If you walk around Doha, you will see many women in burqas. You can’t take their photos, especially their faces, even if only their eyes are visible.
people of qatar women
And if you do take photos of local women, do it from behind.

On the Punctuality of Qataris and their Attitude towards Time

It’s difficult to call Qataris a punctual nation. It’s just in their blood to take things slow and easy. They’re unhurried, and can spend three hours sitting and chatting over tea about the weather. They even walk down the street as if they’re about to fall asleep. They have no reason to rush; they’re content with their lives.

Here’s what you need to know about punctuality in Qatar today:

  • If you make an appointment with a Qatari, in general, everything will be on time. You can do business with them, and even if they’re late, they’ll apologize a thousand times.
  • However, if you’re talking to a non-Qatari, like a tour guide from India, a taxi driver from Pakistan, or a souvenir or fruit vendor from Iran, it’s impossible to agree on anything. Did you agree that they would pick you up from the hotel for a tour tomorrow at 9 am? Expect them at 10 am at best.

It’s important to understand that no one will cheat you or rip you off; they’re just don’t value other people’s time. Whatever they promise, divide it by four.

  • Everything about time in Qatar, such as how the metro runs on Fridays, the market, and shops is discussed.
locals in qatar
Qatari citizens live a very measured and unhurried life, which is felt in everything, even in their movements. You’ll notice this when you meet them on the street.

Tourist Girls in Qatar

This section is about tourist girls, not locals. Briefly, since the country is strictly religious, some Sharia rules still apply, and there are many questions on this topic.

  • Today, Qatar is rapidly opening up to the world, and its attitude towards non-Muslim tourists is very welcoming.
  • A girl can travel alone in Qatar, and she can even drive a car. By the way, car rental is available for female tourists. Everything about renting a car in Qatar is available to girls as well.
  • It’s absolutely safe for girls in Qatar at any time of the day or night.
  • The only thing you need to know is:
    • It’s not allowed to wear bikini on public beaches in the city. This is only possible on private beaches near hotels.
    • It’s important to dress modestly, taking into account local traditions. Clothing should follow 3 rules: shoulders, elbows, and knees should be covered. Ideally, the head should also be covered. But even if it’s not, the morality police won’t arrest you.
    • Avoid wearing: mini skirts, clothes that expose your stomach, you get the idea. Female bodies are taboo in Qatar. You can walk in your hotel room naked, and no one will force you to dress in a burqa outside. However, many parts of the body need to be covered.
how to dress in qatar
Here we are, my wife and I on another trip to Qatar. Notice how she’s dressed: her knees and shoulders are covered. Overall, this is enough to feel comfortable on the street and not attract the disapproving looks of the local population in Qatar.

Even if you have a transit of 5-6 hours through Qatar and plan to go out to Doha, think about your clothing. Everything you need to know about transit through Qatar as a tourist.

In conclusion: the population of Qatar consists of Arabs and people from Asian countries who came here to work. All people are open, friendly, speak English at a basic level, and are always ready to help tourists. Observe the basic rules of etiquette in Qatar, dress appropriately, and you will be a welcomed guest in this country.

Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Qatar

  • Flights at the best prices with discounts
  • Car rental: DiscoverCars
  • Hotels and apartments in Doha:
    • Hotellook – compare prices when booking around the world.
    • Agoda – the best selection of hotels in Qatar.
    • Booking – the main competitor of Agoda.
  • Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
    • GYG – more than 400 tours
    • Viator – excursions and activities throughout the country
  • Travel insurance: EKTA
  • Airport transfer: Intui
  • Internet and Calls: