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22 Apr '16

The Culture of Qatar

Posted by Nosheen Z in Culture of Qatar

Qatar Cultural Overview

About 80 percent of Qatar’s population lives in Doha, the capital city. Water resource at the coast provides opportunities for fishing, pearl diving, and sea trade, thereby encouraging permanent settlements. Village homes at the interior desert region are only used for weekend retreats. Though a predominantly Islamic Arab nation, Qatar is unique in several regards. The society of Qatar reports stratification based on the tribal affiliation and religious sect. For instance, Qataris of Arabic origin identify themselves with Bedouin cultural trends and observe Sunni Islam, while those originated from the northeastern gulf adhere to the Shi’a sect. Often, the social stratification is carried on to professions and occupations too, especially in case of freed slaves.

Arabic Language

Arabic is the official language of Qatar. Since Arabic has close association with Islam, it attests the Islamic identity of the nation. Khaleeji is one of the dialects of Arabic spoken by the people who have genealogical belonging to the six Gulf countries as different from the Arabs of African and Levantine origin. English, Farsi, and Urdu are also widely spoken in Qatar. Most Qataris speak more than one language.

Islamic Clothing of Qatar

The popular men wear of Qatar is called thobe, which is a long white shirt over loose pants. With this, they wear a loose headdress called gutra held with a black rope called agal. Qatari women cover their body with a long black dress called abayah. Women usually wear a black scarf called shayla to cover their head. Qataris preserve their national style of dress to this day with great regard. Though the dress code is flexible for foreigners, the attire cannot be revealing and is expected to cover shoulders and knees.

Middle Eastern Cuisine of Qatar

The culinary tradition of Qatar is greatly influenced by Iran and India. Seafood and native varieties of dates are central to Qatar’s cuisine. The richly spiced rice served with meat or seafood called machbous is very popular as a traditional dish. The main meal is served in the mid day. For most families, the meal after the prayers on Friday is the main gathering. During the month of Ramadan, elaborate meals are served at night after the day long fasting. Coffee made of roasted and sweetened bean and spiced with cardamom is highly popular in Qatar. Gahwa helw is another beverage with a vivid orange infusion of saffron in coffee. Due to the great inflow of foreign workers, cuisines from all parts of the globe have flooded the Qatari restaurants and wayside eateries.

Qatari Local and Muslim Culture

A majority of the Qataris strictly observe the trends and practices of the Sunni sect of Islam, which has characterized the greater part of the local culture. For instance, women are never brought to social gatherings and events, except in westernized circles and highly close circle of relatives. Boys and girls go to separate schools. Though men and women have employment opportunities, women are widely inducted only in government jobs. At Qatar, one does not find women occupying high-level positions. The children of foreigners have opportunity to education in native languages and foreigners can practice their religion publicly.