Although Qatar clothing has changed over the years, Qataris are proud of their clothing, and traditional clothes are worn with pride on daily basis. Qatar is an Islamic country, and people dress in a very traditional manner.
Although there is no dress code as such, for foreigners, it is better to wear modest clothes, and conservative clothing is recommended. This implies no shorts for men, and no mini-skirts or tank tops for women. Foreign visitors are expected to dress in a style that is sensitive to Islamic culture.
Normal swimmers, including bikinis are acceptable on the beach, or by the pool, but, T-shirts and discreet covering of legs are desirable if you are away from such places. Topless sunbathing is not permitted. It is necessary to be particularly conscious of dress code when visiting public places like parks or malls or souq areas, particularly those frequented by mixed nationalities.
It is particularly important to dress modestly during the Holy Fasting month of Ramadan.
Qatari women usually have their hair covered with a black head-dress called Shayla, their bodies are covered with black dress called abayha. Some women also cover their face with a black bourqa, and sometimes the eyes are left uncovered.
As for expatriates, the hot climate in Qatar, call for informal, but smart dressing. Women should avoid wearing spaghetti-strap or see-through blouses and short skirts.
Qatari men wear a long white shirt over loose pants, and wear a loose headdress called gutra, in white or red and white cloth, held on with a black rope called agal. Of-course, foreigners are not expected to wear Arab costumes, but foreign men should avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts in the street.
Official wear in Qatar
For men: Suits are rarely worn in the Gulf, except during important business meetings and related social events. The standard office wear is a shirt (long-sleeved), tie and light weight trousers.
For women: Acceptable work attire is dresses, trousers/skirts (below knee length), with a modest neck line, and no less than half-sleeve.
Consequences of not following the dress code
The penal code in Qatar punishes and forbids the wearing of revealing or indecent clothes. This dressing-code law is enforced by a government body. However, in 2012, a Qatari NGO, organized a campaign calling for public decency, when they felt that the government is too relaxed in monitoring the wearing of revealing clothes (not covering shoulders, knees, tights, or transparent clothes). The campaign particularly targets foreigners, constituting majority of Qatar population.