Buildings are seen from across the water in Doha Image Credit: Reuters

Doha: Home to gleaming skyscrapers and upmarket shopping malls, World Cup host Qatar is known for its traditions and customs. Paramount to their culture is hospitality, but guests would do well to follow a few quintessential etiquettes to make for a wonderful experience when visiting the Arab nation.

Greetings and handshakes

In public places, it is customary to stand up when greeting others, particularly the elderly, as a sign of respect.

For men greeting Qatari women, it is always best to wait for them to initiate the handshake. By the same token, Qatari men might not always offer a handshake when meeting women.

Instead of a handshake, Qataris often place their right hand over their heart as a warm gesture of greeting.

Avoid overt displays of affection

Public displays of affection should largely be avoided out of respect for the local customs. 

As-salamu alaykum

While use of English is ubiquitous in the country, a knowledge of basic Arabic greeting and expressions of gratitude is something that would be greatly appreciated by Qataris.

Shoes off

If you’re invited to a Qatari home, remember to take off your shoes before entering the house., or you could ask if you should.

When sitting with your legs crossed - in any setting - it is considered rude if the soles of the feet are facing the host.

Accept with grace

If your Qatari host offers you a gift, accept it with grace. As with all Arabs, Qataris pride themselves on their hospitality and declining the gift could hurt their sentiment.

Enjoy the coffee

Qatar shares the Gulf passion for Arabic coffee, which is prepared by roasting coffee beans then boiling them with cardamom and saffron. The yellowy, tea-like brew is poured out of traditional, long-spouted "dallah" pots into miniature cups and often served with dates.

When served to guests, it is customary for hosts to try the coffee first, to test for taste. Guests must always drink with their right hand. The coffee keeps coming until you wave your cup to signal you have had your fill.