Although not as conservative as some countries in the Middle East region, Qatar is an Islamic country and there are dress standards that tourists are expected to observe.
Dress Standard for Men and Women in Doha, Qatar
The exact standard of dress depends on what setting you are in and if you are in a place that is private or public. In a private beach resort, the rules differ quite significantly than if you are in a shopping mall, for example. The line becomes blurred in public but touristy places such as the beach.
If you have visited Dubai before, you will find it’s a little more conservative, but the same expectations are set; it is a country where Islamic culture is upheld and you should show respect for this in the way you dress.
Dressing for the weather in Qatar
Daytime temperatures vary from mild (25c/77F) to extremely hot (45c/113F) throughout the year, but it’s important to remember at all times you are in a Muslim country. There are ways to dress conservatively though, just think about the materials you are wearing and how much skin you are covering.
Most locals dress in traditional regional clothing. For men, this is a white throbe or Kandurah, with a Gutrah attached by an Igal on their heads. For ladies, a long black abaya with a Shayla (head covering).
You will see some local ladies wearing a Niqab (full face covering except for the eyes) but it’s not common these days. A Burka is a full-body covering head to toe with only a mesh screen for the eyes, you are very unlikely to encounter this in Doha.
Non-muslim visitors are NOT required to dress in this manner (as they would in Saudi Arabia), nor do women need to have their head covered at all. A hat would, however, be a sensible suggestion in the heat!
Women’s dress code in Qatar
Non-muslim women should look to:
- Cover their shoulders and knees as a basic rule of thumb.
- Skirts and shorts are acceptable, but avoid anything too high or skimpy.
- Leggings can be worn underneath anything you feel might be too short.
- An ordinary T-shirt or blouse is fine, but nothing with too low a neckline revealing cleavage or showing your midriff.
- Absolutely no spaghetti straps or boob tube style tops!
- Avoid tight and clingy clothing. In the heat, you will likely prefer lose cotton anyway, just make sure the material isn’t see-through.
- Bring a shawl or pashmina with you just in case. It can be good for the wind and if you ever feel uncomfortable or out of place.
- The best materials to stick with are silks, cottons and linen. Long, loose and flowly skirts and maxi dresses are great, along with three quater trousers or culottes.
Some places will have stricter rules than others, strictly prohibiting entry without being fully covered. A mosque is a good example, also places like MIA have a stricter dress code.
Will you see people breaking these rules? Absolutely. But don’t be one of those tourists. Do the right thing and don’t make your hosts feel uncomfortable. During Ramadan, this is even more important.
Mens dress code in Abu Dhabi
You will find nearly all men – local or expatriate workers – wear long trousers, even in the peak of summer.
Light chinos or cargo trousers are a good idea for visiting men, or if you prefer shorts in the heat, make sure they are at least knee-length. Men wearing sandals is very common, flip flops would be fine as well.
Men should skip the sleeveless tank tops and avoid slogan t-shirts that may in any way be offensive (hint: Don’t wear anything with logos from neighbouring UAE with whom they currently have a diplomatic dispute).
What to wear in winter in Qatar
Note that the winters can be cool, especially in the evening you will likely need a cardigan or jacket. (It is always recommended to take a warmer layer in the summer too as visitors will find the malls and indoor spaces are freezing with the airconditioning at full blast!)
If you are heading out on a desert camp note there can be a much greater drop in the night time temperature, come prepared!
What should I wear at the beach or waterpark in Qatar?
At the beach or a waterpark in Qatar you will see anything ranging from ladies full-length burkinis to fairly skimpy bathers. Topless is an absolute no-no for ladies – in fact, it’s illegal.
Although bikinis are becoming commonplace, we would recommend err on the side of caution ladies. One-piece bathers might be better suited to this environment or cover over your bathers with a nice flowing sun top.
As soon as you are back in a hotel or walking through a public place, it’s polite to cover up again.
Most pools or beaches will have signage up stating the expected minimum standard of dress. Always obey these rules and follow the instructions of any security staff to avoid finding yourself on the wrong side of the law.
Don’t forget a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses too, pretty much year-round these are necessary packing essentials.
If you are every challenged over what you are wearing, by security staff or a member of the public, don’t argue. Apologise and move on.
What are children expected to wear in Qatar?
There are no restrictions on what children, before the age of puberty should wear in Qatar.
You should dress children appropriately for the weather and the activities you will be doing. If you are heading to the sand and the desert, closed-toe shoes are advised for camel riding and sandboarding. Play parks and climbing frames, you may want your little girls in leggings, but dealing with the heat, light cotton dresses are fine.
You will find Muslim children dress more conservatively though. Long trousers are generally seen on boys rather than shorts and girls will generally wear tights or leggings under any dresses or skirts.
Don’t let your little ones run around nude at the beach or pool, and no swimming or splashing in fountains in just your undies. Girls beyond the toddler years should really have full bathers on.
Teens should look to dress in the same manner as adults and avoid overly clingy or revealing clothing.
Do you have any more questions about appropriate dress in Qatar? feel free to leave them in the comments below or ask in our Family Travel in the Middle East facebook community.