greetings, coffee ritual, shoes… What you need to know about traditions in Qatar

published on Saturday, November 19, 2022 at 07:00

On the eve of the kick-off of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, here is a short guide to Qatari manners for foreign supporters.

With the 2022 FIFA World Cup opening on Sunday November 20, Qatar expects to receive more than a million foreign fans who will have to comply with the rules of the host country, which behind its skyscrapers and its luxurious shopping centers is a conservative Muslim country attached to its traditions.

• Know a few words of Arabic

With a population made up of 90% expatriates, the use of English largely dominates in Qatar, although the official language is Arabic. Speaking Arabic is not essential but knowing some words can be appreciated, especially by Qataris.

• Cheers

In public places, it is appropriate to stand up to greet others, especially the elderly.

You have to wait for Qatari women, usually dressed in a long black dress and a light veil, to stretch out their hand to shake it.

Some prefer to place a hand over their heart in greeting.

• Few gestures of affection

Kisses and gestures of affection should be avoided in public, whether heterosexual or homosexual couples. Holding hands is accepted.

• Do not refuse a gift

Like the inhabitants of other Gulf countries, the Qataris are very hospitable, keen to show an image of respectability and friendliness. It is important for visitors to accept whatever the host offers because refusing a gift can be seen as an offense.

• Take off your shoes

Being invited to a Qatari home means taking off your shoes at the entrance, but you must avoid pointing the soles of your feet towards your hosts.

• Do not be surprised to eat on the floor

Qataris sometimes eat on the floor, by hand, in a large plate like the Bedouins of the desert, even if they live in a large modern villa.

• The coffee ritual

Arabic coffee, the recipe of which consists of clear coffee beans roasted and then boiled with cardamom and saffron, is served in tiny cups called “finjans”, using a jug-shaped coffee maker called “dallah”. This ritual, generally accompanied by a tasting of dates, is dear to all Gulf countries.

Symbol of the traditions of the region, the “dallah” is sometimes erected as a monument in public squares.

In a home, the host first tastes the coffee to make sure it’s good enough to serve to guests. The latter must always drink with the right hand.

If the cup is returned to the person serving it, it means the person wants more, while shaking the cup means they don’t want it anymore.

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