The Traditional Dhow Festival
If you happen to be in Doha in November between the 19th – 23rd don’t miss the Dhow Festival that takes place by the Cultural village of Katara.
The harbour is full of vessels from across the Gulf. The boats belong to Arab sailors, fishermen, traders or pearl divers from Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The event is under the auspices of the Emir, and includes dhow cruises, boat-building demonstrations, a light and firework show, children’s activities and museum exhibitions.
I was here this year on this last trip of mine to Doha and it was indeed something I enjoyed. We spent more than 4 hours out here, chatted a lot with the fishermen. We even had a short sailing experience in one of these boats.
A memorable day indeed!
- Arts and Culture
Although Qatari people dress in a very traditional way, there is no dresscode for foreigners - which means that you could wear whatever you like. In practice - while you are not required to wear a dishdasha or an abbaya - it would be so much better to wear some modest clothes, which means no shorts for men, no mini-skirts for women, and no tank tops for both.
Judging from what my (conservative) Libyan friend Hajer wears, I would say that if you are a lady, you really don't need to wear baggy clothes... She covers up very well, with trousers and long-sleeved blouses, but her clothes are very fashionable and tight-fitting. Occasionally she would wear a short dress over light long trousers. If you are not a muslim, there's no need to wear a headscarf... and no one will give you strange looks if you don't wear it.
"Al Sadu" is the term used for the weaving process, is an old Arabic term that means to stretch or extend. Creating these beautifully decorated tents, rugs, cushions and camel bags was traditionally the Bedouin womens' way of live for many generations.
Wool is used from Goats, Sheep and Camels. The camels are used for the softer applications, while Goats' wool is used to create virtually waterproof tents.
Wind Tower House
This type of architecture is common within the Gulf region. These towers were historically built to bring cool fresh air into the home before the days of air conditioning.
In the Doha area, there are many 'new' examples of this type of architecture, such as at the Ras Al Nasaa restaurant. This photo is of one of the original ones, located just off Grand Hamad street in Najada Shopping Plaza. It was built in 1935 and restored in 1982.
- Historical Travel
There are not too many outdoor coffee houses and fewer traditional coffee houses in Doha. With the "new" old souq area there are now quite a few that have sprung up. As you zig-zag past shops and shop owners hawking their wears, you may find yourself down an alley that opens up to a coffee shop. There are a few to choose from in the souq area off Hamdan road. You will find many men sitting talking, playing backgammon, smoking sheeshas, and drinking coffee.
The coffee is inexpensive and the atmosphere is lively.
Tea or drink
Everytime you are offered a drink in an office or house, it is an insult to refuse a tea or a drink.
When you are done and you don't want another, shake the tea cup handle from side to side to let them know you are done and dont want another.
Don't offer to shack hands if you are a female
It was first time meeting up my auditor in his office. Well, I had offer a hand shake but rejected by him because Islamic guys don't touch womens' hand unless they are husband and wife. I came from a Muslim country too, so I understand why he rejected my hand shake. It would be better to greet them by saying "Hello", "Good morning", "Good afternoon" or "Good evening".
- Religious Travel
Beers, wines and other alcoholic drinks can only be found at bars located at hotels. There are stiff fines for consuming alcohols other than on licensed premises, or at home (if you have a liquor permit).
Drink-driving is a serious offense and the country applies zero tolerance attitude to drugs.
No establishments serve alcohols during the days of Ramadan.
Codes of Clothing Conduct
Qatar is an islamic state and as a courtesy, visitors should dress modestly. Normal swimwears, including bikinis, is acceptable on the beach or by the pool, but t-shirts and discreet covering of the legs is desirable if you move away from these places. Topless sunbathing is not permitted.
Be particularly conscious of your dress code when visiting public places like the malls or parks or souq areas especially areas frequented by mixed nationalities. Women should avoid wearing spaghetti-strap or see-though blouses and short skirts.
It is considered particularly important to dress modestly during the Holy Fasting month of Ramadan.
- Arts and Culture
We often think of camels as brutish beasts that, like donkeys, were mainly pack animals. While this may be true today for some tourist resorts, the presence of the camel in the collective memory of the Gulf Arabs is a dear one. In the desert, along the trade routes that provided many with their livelihood before the discovery of oil, camels were the salvation of man. Their ability to trek for days without refreshment was invaluable in barren expanses of desert. Their milk, rich in nutrients and filling like no other milk, gave sustenance to the nomads. In times of plenty, they were slaughtered for feasts and special occasions. Camels today are still kept by Gulf Arabs, and are treated with the same respect as prize race horses.
Falconry is a serious sport in the Persian Gulf. The Crown Prince of the UAE is a champion falconer, and wealthy members of Gulf society will often consider practicing the sport to be, along with horsemanship and poetry composition, a mark of having mastered the fine traditions of the Gulf Arab World. Of course, falcons are expensive birds, and they are not nearly as common in nature as they once were, but it is possible to see the fine, trained specimens on sale at the Jayda Souq, near Waqif Souq in downtown Doha. Falcons can be vicious – they were trained to hunt, like dogs for the fox hunt – but it is hard not to feel a bit of awe and respect for these majestic birds when up close to them. At some events, trainers will also allow their birds to sit on visitors hands, and they can be quite tame and docile while in their master’s care.
- Arts and Culture
Orry the Oryx - The 2006 Asian Games
With the approaching Asian Games of 2006, the official mascot is popping up all over town.
It's Orry the Oryx. You'll find him dressed up in the costumes of several of the athletic events. He'll appear to you in the form of statues and posters all over the city.
This is the most obvious image of Orry; a huge statue on the Corniche that incorporates a countdown to the games of December 2006.
The games are scheduled for 1-15 December 2006. Book your rooms now. If you'd like to volunteer, they go to the website for more information.
Men's dress codes
Many Qatari men and those from the Arabian peninsula wear the white robes called thobe, with a white or checked ghutra (scarf). However, Western dress is seen just as often.
If you are acustomed to Western style toilets, you may have to make a quick adjustment in an 'emergency'
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