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The same can be said for beaches outside of the city, because odds are there won’t be anyone else there.
On the flip side, women aren’t able to strip down at the public beach of Katara.
Signs state that others around you may find nudity offensive. Expats applying for residency in Qatar must first pass a medical test that screens for tuberculosis, hepatitis, and HIV.
You’d think that, in a country where around 80% of the residents are expats, they’d have streamlined this process, but no. The most obvious place where this is a problem is on the road, because traffic in Doha is absolutely horrendous. Actually, I’d say no hand signs in general while driving.
The day I went for my medical tests involved being herded into a crowded room, standing in a queue for 3 hours without instruction, and getting yelled at in Arabic. Most expats have a strict ‘hands on the wheel at all times’ policy, because if you so much as wave a thank you to someone it could be misconstrued as a gesture of disrespect. Despite the initial inconveniences of the above rules, once you get used to them they have very little impact on daily life.
And life here is good — the weather’s nice, we don’t pay taxes, and the culture seems to have mastered the work/life balance.
If nothing else, it’ll help you kick the booze habit.
The exception is when greeting: In Qatar, men and women greet friends of the same sex with three kisses on the cheek. Models in magazines often have clothing drawn on, and any sexy-time scenes in movies are censored, especially if the characters aren’t married. If you’re found to be scantily clad you could be fined or, at the very least, security will ask you to leave the mall/office/souq you’re in.
If you’re arriving in Doha from a typical western background, your interaction with veiled women will almost certainly be limited.
So finding yourself attracted to a Qatari woman in an abaya can come as a shock.
Basically, Qatari women are reserved for Qatari men.2. Getting involved with a foreign man would cause a huge family scandal and seriously impact a women’s marriage potential. Despite all of the above, it’s not unheard of for Qatari Women to secretly date westerners. You can find more tips on living and working in Qatar in my book — God Willing: How to survive expat life in Qatar.
Kissing, hugging, and some places even holding hands. This one is tricky and has caused a lot of debate recently as public consensus becomes more lax.
Ergo, all photo-taking devices must be checked at the door.