What is it about Qatar? Visitors and expatriates seem to either love the place or hate it, in equal measures it would seem. It has its share of problems, for sure. But you can say that about any other country in the world.
A contributor to the blog Qatar Visitor, for example, stoutly defended the country, fending off criticism in no uncertain terms but admitting there were issues.
The contributor said, “The way labour and servants are sometimes treated here is often outrageous. Although this mistreatment does usually break Qatari laws, those laws obviously need to be better enforced.”
And later, the contributor added, “Since the current Emir has come into power, the Ministry of Information has been abolished, child slavery has been stamped out, women have been allowed to drive and encouraged to take an active role in the country and expatriate workers no longer experience night time visits by police in search of vice. Couples can walk along a road hand in hand without hassle, Christians can worship freely in their own churches and in two years, I have never been asked for money by a policeman.”
The country is gearing up for the 2022 World Cup football tournament with a string of billion-dollar infrastructure projects on the go, including a new deep-sea port for Qatar’s capital, Doha, costing an estimated $5.5bn, and a new airport, again for the capital, costing $17.5bn. Work will also begin next year on the $36bn Doha Metro system linking stadiums involved in the World Cup.
The banks in Qatar have played a major part in the development of the economy which has grown dramatically in recent decades through exploitation of the country’s vast oil resources. Huge multinational banks, such as HSBC, have helped Qatar leapfrog to the top of the GDP per capita league table. Thus Qatar can literally call itself the wealthiest country in the world.
As the tourist and expatriate numbers grow every year and the vast changes transform the country, Qataris are determined to protect the country’s rich tradition and values. Recently, the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) added its backing to a campaign promoting the country’s Law of Ethics.
The “One of US” campaign, run by a group of writers and launched on Twitter, is based on Article 57 of the Qatar Constitution which prohibits wearing indecent clothing in public. It is aimed at residents and visitors, both women and men alike.
Founder, Najla Al-Mahmoud, explained the group’s rationale was that they understood that foreigners come from a different culture and would not necessarily know what is acceptable in Qatar or the need to comply with etiquette and public decency.
The campaign also seeks to establish mutual respect among the different cultures that unite the local community to preserve the nation’s values and its heritage. Inviting all residents and visitors to respect the dress code, the dress code campaign guidelines are to be displayed on posters in shopping mall and public spaces.
These guidelines will also be placed on QTA’s website and future guides and brochures published by QTA in accordance with the Law of Ethics in Qatar.
Hana Al Emadi, of Qatar Tourism Authority, commented, “With Qatar welcoming everyone as a country that is proud of its culture and heritage, QTA lends it support to this campaign in line with the Law of Ethics.
“Qatar has rapidly become an important destination on the international stage and the number of visitors has considerably increased over the years. It is thus even more important for us to welcome those arriving from abroad and share with them dress code guidelines that will ensure they feel welcome.”
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