Greetings in Qatari Culture

Assalamu Alaykum!

Whether you are new to Qatar or have lived here for a number of years, you have probably heard the words ‘Assalamu Alaykum’ before. Spoken by Qataris, other Arabs and Muslims in general, it’s a popular greeting across the Arab world, but what does it actually mean?

‘Assalamu Alaykum’ means Peace be Upon you.

The reply would therefore be:

‘Wa’alaikum salam’ which means Upon you be Peace.

In the Qur’an, Chapter An-Nisa, Verse 86, it is written:

“When you are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it, or (at least) return it equally. Certainly, Allah is Ever a Careful Account Taker of all things.”

Greetings in Qatari culture.

Qataris have very distinct ways of greeting each other. Below is a little insight into how different genders and ages interact.

Between men:

  • If it’s a formal greeting, they shake hands (always the right).
  • If you know the person very well, you can go for cheek to cheek kisses (3 kisses on the right cheek).
  • If the person is your relative or close friend, then you both can greet by touch noses twice.

Between women:

  • In a formal greeting, women’s shake hands (always right).
  • If they are relatives or close friends, cheek to cheek kisses (3 kisses on right side)
  • Ladies in Qatar, as any other ladies around the world, usually hug when they are excited to see one another.

Between men and women:

Men and women typically do not touch when greeting. The safe way to determine whether a Qatari woman is okay with shaking hands is by leaving a distance and waiting for her to extend her hand. If she does so, she is okay to greet by shaking hands. If not, then they may smile, greet verbally or place her right hand on her heart as a greeting. Holding both hands together is another sign a woman would give to show that she doesn’t shake hands.

How elders are greeted:

Elders are very respected in Qatari society, therefore they are greeted with much more care and respect. The Qatari elder would be greeted with a kiss on their forehead or head.

Often, Qataris themselves know that expatriates aren’t familiar with local greetings, so it’s okay if you are unsure. But now that you know how to greet the true Qatari way, why not surprise a Qatari friend?

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