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. If you are worried about what to wear in Qatar as a woman or simply want to clarify your understanding of the Qatar dress code, you’ve come to the right place!
Dress Standard for Men and Women in Doha, Qatar
The exact standard of dress in Doha 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 from if you are in a shopping mall or museum, for example. The line becomes blurred in public but touristy places such as the beach.
If you have visited Dubai or Abu Dhabi 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 in Qatar vary from mild (25°C/77°F) to extremely hot (45°C/113°F) throughout the year, but it’s important to remember at all times you are in a Muslim country.
There are ways to dress conservatively in the heat in Qatar though, just think about the materials you are wearing and how much skin you are covering.
Don’t forget a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses too, pretty much year-round these are necessary packing essentials.
What do locals wear in Qatar?
Like most parts of the Gulf region, locals dress in traditional clothing.
For men, this is a long white throbe or Kandurah which covers the whole body to the ankles and arms to the wrists, with a Gutrah attached by an Igal on their heads.
For local Muslim ladies in Qatar, most will wear a long black abaya with a Shayla (head covering).
You will see some local older and more traditional local ladies wearing a Niqab (full face covering except for the eyes) but it’s not common these days. Seeing ladies dressed in Burkas (full-body covering head to toe with only a mesh screen for the eyes), is a highly unlikely encounter in Doha.
So what are the Qatar Clothing rules?
Non-muslim visitors are NOT required to dress in the same manner as locals, nor do women need to have their heads covered at all. A hat would, however, be a sensible suggestion in the heat!
Official guidance from the Visit Qatar website states:
“Attitudes towards dress in Qatar are relaxed, but visitors (men as well as women) are expected to show respect for the local culture by avoiding excessively revealing clothing in public. It is generally recommended for men and women to ensure their shoulders and knees are covered.”
Furthermore, Article 57 of the constitution states:
“The respect of the Constitution, compliance with the laws issued by Public Authority, abiding by
public order and morality, observing national traditions and established customs is a duty of all
who reside in the State of Qatar or enter its territory.“
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 than most tourist destinations.
Whatever the law may or may not say or how you interpret the above, if you are ever challenged over what you are wearing, by security staff or a member of the public, don’t argue. Apologise and move on.
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.
Let’s look at dress code standards for women and men in Qatar in a little more detail.
Qatar Dress Code for Ladies
Non-muslim women tourists in Qatar 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 clothing with a very low neckline revealing cleavage or showing off your midriff should be avoided.
- Absolutely no spaghetti straps or boob tube style tops!
- Avoid tight and clingy clothing. In the heat, you will likely prefer loose cotton anyway, just make sure the material isn’t see-through.
- Bring a pashmina with you just in case. It can be good for pulling back your hair in the wind and if you ever feel uncomfortable or out of place.
- The best materials to stick with are silks, cotton and linen.
- Long, loose and flowy skirts and maxi dresses are great, along with three-quarter trousers or culottes.
- It is always recommended to take a warmer layer even in the summer as visitors will find the malls and indoor spaces are freezing with the air conditioning at full blast!
Qatar dress code for men
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, full length or three quarters.
- 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.
- Men should never be topless in public (this would only be accepted in a private beach club or pool setting).
(Hint: Don’t wear anything with logos from neighbouring countries – although their diplomatic dispute has cooled, it may still draw looks)
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.
More Frequently Asked Questions on Qatar Dress Code
There’s no specific rule or law banning the wearing of shorts in Qatar for either sex. However, reading between the lines, the dress code in Qatar requests that you remain respectful and you should at a minimum cover down to your knees.
With an influx of international tourists expected in November/December 2022 for the FIFA World Cup, it’s important for tourists to remain mindful of the local dress code and culture in Qatar. You should familiarise yourself with the guidance we’ve given above for men and women.
Announcements from Qatar Authorities have confirmed that the wearing of country colours is allowed at the World Cup. Tourist should “embrace their clothing of comfort, as long as it is modest and respectful to the culture.”
That means keep your shirts on lads and your breasts and bellies covered, ladies. Stick to the shoulders and knees rule of thumb. Stadiums will be air-conditioned to deal with the heat (albeit temperatures should be under 30°C by November/December, so wearing longer trousers to matches shouldn’t be a problem).
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 erring 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.
Winters can be cool, especially in the evening. You will likely need a cardigan or jacket when visiting Doha in the coldest winter months.
You’re very unlikely to need a raincoat or umbrella. If a storm does hit, simply stay indoors until it passes or embrace this rare occurrence and ensuing chaos on the roads!
If you are heading out on a desert camp note there can be a much greater drop in the nighttime temperatures, come prepared for it to be cool in winter!
If you’ll be participating in activities such as camel rides and sand sports, we recommend closed-toe shoes.
Souq Waqif is a traditional market area of Doha, and also a prime tourist spot. It is recommended that you stick with the country’s dress code as we have explained above, and err on the conservative side when it comes to how much of your skin is covered up. Long trousers/skirts would be preferable or you’ll find you could be drawing unnecessary stares.
Hamad International Airport in Doha is a large international airport and as such, there is no strict dress code to be adhered to.
Saying that, with many Gulf region residents and tourists from other Muslim countries regularly frequenting the airport. It would be wise to dress in a modest and respectful manner when transiting through DOH.
Downloadable Packing List for Qatar
You can download a packing list here to plan your next family trip or stopover in Qatar.
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.
More Middle East Region Dress Code Advice
Are you travelling beyond Qatar and want to know how the Middle East dress code varies by country? You will also want to check out next:
- What to Wear in Saudi Arabia: Dresscode Advice for Tourists
- What to wear in Abu Dhabi & the UAE
- What to wear in Oman; Oman Dresscode for women, men & children
- What should I wear visiting Bahrain?
- What to wear in Jordan; packing advice for men, women & children
- Dresscode for visitors to Kuwait
- What to wear in Lebanon; Dresscode Advice for Tourists
- What to Wear in Israel; Packing Advice for Women, Men & Children
Further Planning Advice for Qatar
Planning your trip to Qatar, you may also be interested to learn more about:
- The best things to see and do in Doha with kids
- Beyond the city, the best things to see and do in Qatar
- How to do a Doha stopover – less than 24 hours passing through Doha