I will tell you about the prohibitions in Qatar for tourists that exist today. What you may encounter, what you need to know in order not to be beaten with sticks or pelted with stones (just kidding!). As the country is radically Muslim and has been closed to world tourism for a long time, there are some peculiarities that you need to know before visiting Qatar.

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Tours and Activities

General prohibitions in Qatar:

Firstly, the prohibitions that are currently relevant in Qatar and which every tourist will probably encounter.

  • Pork is completely forbidden. It cannot be purchased, found in restaurants, or imported into the country. There is no pork in Qatar at all. Even a sandwich with pork sausage for personal use is prohibited to import into the country. Technically, of course, you can bring it, but if it is detected, the composition will not be overlooked.
  • The promotion of any religion other than Islam is prohibited. Also, any anti-Islamic religious symbols are prohibited from being imported into the country.

It is important to understand here: you can bring a Bible or a crucifix into the country, and no one will say a word. If you want to celebrate your Orthodox Christmas, pray in your hotel room, by all means. But if you start walking down the street and offer the locals to change their religion, and if you have literature with you that portrays Islam in a negative light, then you will have problems.

  • Officially, intimate relationships between unmarried couples are prohibited. However, this mainly applies to citizens of the country. Tourists are not checked for a stamp in their passport. If you are traveling as a couple, no one cares about your relationship status. This is a very serious offense for citizens of Qatar.

Interesting fact:

In the Doha Metro, there are “Gold”, “Family” and “Standard” cars. If a man is traveling alone, he is not allowed to ride in the “Family” car, where children and women ride. This restriction also applies to tourists. There are special people who walk through the car and check for this. Read more about the Doha Metro in the article linked below.
prohibitions in Qatar metro
Restrictions in Qatar even exist in the metro. A man without a woman or child cannot enter such a car, even as a tourist.
  • Needless to say, theft is a big sin in Islam. In addition, petty thefts and hooliganism are severely punished by the country’s laws. As a result, safety in Qatar is at the highest level. There is absolutely nothing for a tourist to be afraid of, even at night and even if you are a woman traveling alone.
    • In the last 3-4 years, Qatar has been in the top three safest countries in the world. Believe me, it is much safer here than in any European country: France, Spain, Italy, and so on.
    • Learn all about safety in Qatar, including how female tourists should dress on the streets.

And of course, the main restrictions in Qatar that interests all tourists is the complete ban on alcohol. You cannot buy it in a store or bring it in your luggage. The limit for importing alcohol into the country is 0 liters (zero). Anything above this number is confiscated at the airport.

Alcohol and smoking in Qatar

Let’s delve into this topic in more detail, as it is still possible to buy alcohol in Qatar if you desire.

Starting with smoking, there are no bans or restrictions in Qatar. Cigarettes are sold in stores, and smoking is allowed in designated areas. The average price for a pack of cigarettes is around $5. You can also bring your own, with a limit of 200 cigarettes for import.

When it comes to alcohol, the situation is much more interesting.

  • There is a complete ban on alcohol in Qatar in any stores. However, there are exceptions for some restaurants.
alcohol in Qatar
This is the alcohol section in any hypermarket. All the beer is non-alcoholic.

Alcohol is sold:

  • In hotels where package tourists stay. Today, tour packages to Qatar are becoming increasingly popular and you can read about this in the article: Holiday packages to Doha, Qatar, prices, where to buy, what to expect.
  • In some restaurants in the center of Doha, which are also geared towards tourists.

Alcohol prices in Qatar:

In these restaurants mentioned above, you can order a glass of beer or whiskey on the rocks. But be prepared to spend some money :). The average price for a 0.5 beer is 50 riyals (~15$). You are unlikely to find a liter of the cheapest whiskey for less than $200 per bottle. Qatar is not cheap Asia. Read about the prices in Qatar for all categories of goods and services that are of interest to tourists.

There are also two alcohol stores in Doha where you can buy any type of alcohol. The prices are very high, but cheaper than in restaurants and hotels. A can of beer costs $5, a bottle of vodka costs around $100. But even if you have the money, you cannot buy anything there. Here’s a brief overview of what you need, in addition to money, to buy something in these stores:

  • You must not be Muslim.
  • Tourists with a regular 30-day visa are not allowed to enter these stores at all. They only serve foreign nationals who work in Qatar and have the appropriate documents.
  • You need to present a letter from your local employer stating that they are aware that you want to “drink” and that they do not object.
  • You also need to attach a certificate of income to the letter.
  • Based on your salary, the store will calculate the monthly limit for purchasing alcohol. You cannot buy more than they calculate :).
  • The main customers of these stores are top European executives of local companies.

Girls and swimsuits at the beach

Prohibitions in Qatar apply not only to food and alcohol, but also to clothing. However, many concessions have been made for tourists today. Here’s a brief overview:

  • Tourist girls are allowed to wear whatever they want while walking down the street, but they should dress conservatively. Mini-skirts and crop tops are not allowed. It is highly recommended that clothing covers the shoulders and knees, and it is ideal if it also covers the elbows and hair. More information on this topic can be found in the safety article mentioned earlier.
how to dress in qatar
Many expats and tourists dress like this. It’s acceptable to have the knees and shoulders covered.

The beach is a more complicated issue:

  • You can wear the swimsuits and bikini that we’re used to only on hotel beaches, which are considered private property and closed off from the view of local residents.
  • However, bikinis are not allowed on public city beaches. Women should wear leggings and a sleeved shirt, and it’s best to dress for swimming like the local girls.
bikini wear in qatar
This is a public city beach in Doha, where it’s forbidden to swim in swimsuit. I don’t think you’d want to sunbathe here in your bikini either. Even men swim in shorts and shirts.

Travel tips

In reality, Qatar is opening up to global tourism at a tremendous pace. Where once you could get 40 lashes with a cane, today they won’t even consider it an offense. However, it is also one of the safest places on the planet.

To ensure a smooth trip, follow these simple and obvious rules:

  • Don’t bring alcohol with you and be prepared for the fact that it won’t be available here. And if you do bring it, don’t sit on the waterfront at sunset with a can of beer in your hand. Drink quietly in your hotel room and enjoy.
  • Be modest in your clothing, especially if you’re a girl. This is a Muslim country and female bodies are taboo here. Wear whatever you want at home, but try to cover your elbows, shoulders, and knees here.
  • And most importantly, be respectful of their religion. Don’t take pictures of someone praying in the middle of the street. Don’t stare and smile at women in burqas whose eyes are the only visible part of their bodies. If you do take their picture, do it from behind.
what is prohibited in qatar
If you take pictures of local women, make sure their faces are not in the frame.

There are no other strict rules or limitations. Today, prohibitions in Qatar mostly concern its residents. Existing sets of rules control their every movement. However, tourists are completely free in this country and can do practically anything.

In conclusion, the prohibitions in Qatar are getting weaker and weaker every year. Who knows, maybe soon they will start selling beer in stores. This is what all tourists and expats living in Qatar are looking forward to the most.

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: