Dress Code in the Middle East
What is the Dress Code in Qatar?
For those moving to Qatar to live, or even for those coming here for a visit, dress code is an important consideration. While the standards of dress are not as strict as some other countries within the Middle East, Qatar does have some expectations in regards to its dress code.
When you arrive in Qatar, you may see Qataris wearing traditional attire. For men, this is a long, flowing white garment called a thobe, and a headdress called a gutra. While foreign men can choose to wear this as well, it’s certainly not regulation.
Traditional attire for women consists of a long black robe called an abaya, a robe which covers the body, head and face called a bourqa, or a hijab, which is a head scarf. Again, foreign women are not expected to dress in the same way.
However, for both men and women who come here, there are certain guidelines to follow. Foreigners should dress conservatively and modestly, showing sensitivity to the culture of Qatar and the Qatari people who live here.
For men, some say to avoid shorts, and to wear loose trousers instead. You may choose to wear shorts though, as long as they fall below the knee. Avoid showing your shoulders and upper arms, wearing a shirt if comfortable.
While the climate may be hot – reaching 50ºC in summer – women should still avoid short skirts, tank tops and tops with spaghetti straps. When wearing shorts, skirts or dresses, make sure they fall below the knee. Avoid low-cut necklines, and keep shoulders and upper arms covered.
Both men and women are expected to dress conservatively at work. Gulf men generally don’t wear suits unless it is a particularly formal business meeting, or it is a social occasion that calls for it. Office wear for men usually consists of lightweight trousers, a shirt and tie.
Women in the office can wear dresses, trousers and skirts, again, as long as they fall below the knee. Necklines should be modest, and the upper arms and shoulders should be covered.
Revealing swimwear such as bikinis can generally be worn in private hotels and clubs, depending on the regulations there. Outside of these areas, covering up is usually expected. Use others as your guide when in public areas, and lean towards modestly when unsure.
Consequences of Dressing Immodestly
As Qatar’s expat population has expanded, Qataris have grown more accustomed to seeing foreigners dressing the way they do at home. However, there are still legal guidelines that govern that way people in Qatar must dress.
Dressing indecently may have consequences, however, it’s worth pointing out that the rules – and their consequences – are more strictly upheld during the holy month of Ramadan. Consequently, expats should be particularly sensitive in their choice of dress over this time.
Why do these dress codes exist? As a Muslim country, Qatar has long held a more conservative ideal of what its people should wear. Qataris, in general, are very welcoming to foreigners, so it’s only common decency that in return, foreigners should act in a way that is sensitive of Qatari culture.
Is the dress code the same in the UAE?
Like Qatar, much of the UAE has legal guidelines on appropriate dress. But again, like Qatar, the UAE is generally quite liberal in its attitudes to the way foreigners dress – especially in Dubai.
When visiting the UAE, try to adopt the same style of dress as you would in Qatar. Dress modestly, ensuring your knees, shoulders and upper arms are covered, and avoid anything that is overly revealing or tight-fitting.
As your local partner in Qatar and the UAE, Fusion Middle East will guide you through what is expected of you when you settle here. Contact us today to find out exactly what we can do for you, and arrange your free, no-obligation consultation.