Qatar “Reflect Your Respect” Campaign

The State of Qatar will soon be launching an interesting new campaign, called “Reflect Your Respect.” It will launch June 20, 2014, and is being set up by a group of Qatari women trying to promote modesty and prevent “immoral behavior.”

They’ll be handing out pamphlets to visitors entering the country with “helpful tips” of how to be respectful of local customs, suggesting that if you’re a visitor you’re expected to act like a local.

Reflect-Your-Respect

Now, I can really appreciate the idea behind it, since ultimately it’s better to proactively be made aware of these customs than to find out the hard way. I mean, I wish that upon landing in Japan the first time there was someone handout out pamphlets about not tipping and other customs. That’s actually kind of useful in high context cultures.

Here are some of their tips:

Qatar is an Islamic state and being respectful to its culture will help you enjoy your stay.

  • Women should dress modestly, and men should not be shirt-less in public
  • Public displays of affection and intimacy are strongly discouraged
  • Ask permission before taking a picture of anyone you don’t know
  • Drinking alcohol is strictly prohibited, except inside hotel bars

Clothing

Men and women should dress modestly as a courtesy to both Qataris and Muslims. Swimsuits and beachwear are acceptable at the hotel beaches (don’t forget sunscreen), but it is not appropriate to show too much skin in other public areas. Tops should cover the shoulders and upper arms, and skirts or shorts should fall to or below the knee. Women are not obliged to cover their hair. Visitors should be thoughtful of their clothing particularly in the Holy Month of Ramadan.

Qatar has even set up a Twitter and Instagram for their “Reflect Your Respect” campaign. So it would seem that as a guy you shouldn’t wear shorts that don’t at least cover your knees.

Not sure how exactly that works within the context of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which Qatar is working tirelessly to host…

Bottom line

On the plus side, I can appreciate what they’re trying to do here. It’s actually pretty innovative that they’re trying to set up a social campaign around this.

I’ll leave it at that…

Comments

  1. Do you think all of those figures are decapitated in order to show what the punishment might be for not following their guidelines?

    I love how they deliberately gave that third woman a muffin top. The fourth guy should get those spots on his chest looked at by a dermatologist.

  2. Great, and when the Qataris can respect my basic human and civil rights as a member of the LGBT community, then we can have a two-way conversation, right?

    I’m all for respecting culture that asks to be respected. But if you decide as a country [I do realize these aren’t democracies where the voice of the people is represented, of course] that you want to pander to the international tourist trade, you’re going to have to make some concessions, no? Sure, of course, dress appropriately when visiting a mosque or another holy site, but I think if you’re going to a shopping mall or a hotel bar in Qatar you can probably dress as crassly as the consumerism being worshipped inside.

    But hey- I’m not going there, because I don’t want to be stoned to death going through immigration.

  3. @Andrew B – those spots are either copious chest hair, or gaudy gold jewelry, either of which I believe you can find just about everywhere you turn in Qatar (or in certain parts of Beverly Hills).

  4. ANOTHER reason why it’s worthless to visit this backwards country, only second to Somalia and North Korea

    And guess who partners with and profits from their national state owned airline ? That’s right, AA

  5. I think this is a pretty respectful way to politely ask visitors to be respectful. I wouldn’t be offended. Inconvenienced, yes; offended? No. It would be nice to know before I pack, though. By the time I get to the country, it’s a little hard.

  6. This doesn’t bother me too much, because it’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever set foot in Qatar, or any other country that’s still stuck in the 19th century.

  7. How do they plan to host the World Cup? Will they ask soccer players to wear jeans pants during game? I am guessing FIFA will have to make some changes to their plans.

  8. Unlike some of my fellow Americans, I would never wear tacky gym or beach attire on the street in the Middle East or in a Buddhist temple. But the Gulf hypocrisy kills me. Don’t wear “immodest” clothing, but don’t mind the hookers all over our hotel bars and restaurants — consisting mostly women trafficked from places like Moldova. It’s no surprise that the Saudis sent troops into Bahrain — to preserve their preferred place to drink and whore. Singapore with sand if you ask me — all soul-less, overly air-conditioned shopping malls and high-rise luxury hotels, built with all-but-slave labor in a culture vacuum with an authoritarian government. Other than Oman, with its unique culture, barely-secret gay sultan, and surprising tolerance, we should all give the Gulf a pass.

  9. @Nick, I understand your frustration.

    But I think if we choose to visit an area, we should abide by their local mores. If that’s an issue, we shoud choose another place.

    My clothes are neither gay nor straight.

    And , BTW, your second comment embodies the stereotyping you just condemned in your first post.

    My apologies, because I don’t normally comment on quasi-political topics. It’s just that your comments showed a certain determination to pick and choose arguments, as well as lacking in-depth comments. “Stoned to death going through immigration”? Seriously?

  10. Another good example of how Lucky is a young, inexperienced to the real world traveler who has spent too much time in lounges. Why on earth do you appreciate what they are trying to do here? Qatar has a horrible history of abusing pretty much every nationality except Qataris. I agree with Nick- respect is a two way street.

  11. @colleen : you have no idea what you’re talking about. If “abiding local mores” means compromising on all personal dignity beliefs and freedom, then HELL no

    Respect is a 2 way street. If they can’t respect their visitors at all at a bare minimum, how do they expect people to reciprocate ?

  12. Do in Rome as the Romans do. It is basic courtesy to respect local traditions and customs regardless of what kind of tyrant wicked government is there. If you don’t like it, don’t go there. It is that simple. I fail to understand why some are so offended?

  13. @ Tyler — I appreciate the fact that if they’re going to hold other people to a certain standard, that they at least make that standard clear. Do I fundamentally agree with what they’re trying to do? Of course not!

  14. @Patricia – insults aside, please read further in my comments. I agree with your “HELL no”.

    What I said was, we know what the deal is. If we don’t like it or agree with it, we skip it. I have no current plans to visit Iran. Or North Korea, Iraq or Afghanistan. Or a bunch of other countries, based on my choice given current curcumstances.

    If I do decide to visit, it’s with eyes wide open and an understanding of the rules I must play by.

    It’s all about choice.

    You may be out to change the world. If so, I salute you. I’m happy playing with the existing rules.

  15. @colleen : you’re straight so you would never understand the discrimination of LGBT.

    There is a fine line between “tradition” and outright discrimination / criminalization. Qatar is a nation that crossed that line, and I wish Noah could summon a tsunami to take out that whole nation.

    When their corpses float ashore, then I’ll show my respects with flowers.

  16. What’s hilarious is how they have these campaigns and then you have the sons and daughters of the royal family whoring, boozing, and drugging it up when they’re in the US/Europe/Lebanon…

    “when the Qataris can respect my basic human and civil rights as a member of the LGBT community”

    Yeah, but it’s their country, they can treat you how they want, with regards tothe LGBT issue. It sucks, it’s wrong, but that’s the way it is. Now, when they visit you in your country, that’s a different story…

    I mean, yeah, most of us would find this whole campaign ridiculous, and it is…but that’s how the country is. If people don’t like it, then they don’t have to go. Nobody is forcing them to. Qatar can afford to find other people to come work there who will follow the country guidelines, it’s not like a few people whining about not ever setting foot in the country on Lucky’s blog is going to change anything…they have more money than they know what to do with, so it’s not like they even need us or our money.

    And let’s keep things in perspective, this isn’t like Saudi forcing women to dress in a full abaya or whatever.

    “How do they plan to host the World Cup? Will they ask soccer players to wear jeans pants during game?”

    That’s a rather stupid question, as it says in the ad people should be covered from shoulders to KNEES…

    FYI, Lucky, this is actually re-launch of the campaign, not a launch…

  17. It’s better that the expectations of the relationship between the tourists and the locals are explicit up front, rather than dirty looks, arrests, or stonings. People can make their own decisions and balance risks and rewards since they’re adults. I would never go there, but I have not interest in traveling to a 110 degree Middle East country to unload money to sheiks either.

  18. I never thought I’d see the day that a gay blogger would praise and promote a proudly anti-gay country for purposes of tourism. I’m as straight as an arrow myself and I dress very conservatively but you’ll never see me set foot in a country like Qatar thanks to their seriously depraved moral and ethical standards. All the pamphlets in the world wouldn’t change that.

  19. Some comments above are dripping with hate – have Noah summon a tsunami? Really? Did we get too hooked on exporting our “democratic” values a la Bush? Let’s fix our own backyard (by the way, you guys are obviously travellers, so maybe having seen the world you realize the US is FAR from perfect – UCSB, anyone?) respect other cultures, they need time, not hate, to realize their views are not humanistic. We speak from 250 years of democratic systems and ideas that have fostered within. You can not expect the Qataris to operate on the same mindset. If you disagree, simply don’t go. The world is plenty big enough
    Regards to all open-minded people.

  20. @Patricia

    In terms of religious furor and disrespect for human lives and human values, you actually seem to fit in pretty well with some of these Mid East governments.

  21. @Lars : it’s all fair game. If they treat humans like that, then I’ll treat them the exact same way. Their royal family is a legalized form of Taliban, and every time you fly QR, you’re lining the pockets of state-sanctioned terrorists.

    @Don : waiting for them to realize their wrongs is like waiting for North Korea to make peace. As long as the current ruling families exists, it won’t ever happen. That’s why the only way is cleansing, not teaching.

  22. So is it not a good idea if a European woman who is perfectly able to sit topless on most beach’s in France or spain, or…, comes to the US and does that in a non designated area, to inform her of that in advance?
    Is it not a good idea if a German driver who is able to drive without speedlimits on the Autobahn, to let them know in advance when they land in UK that they cant do that there?
    You are demanding someone respect you first before you extend respect to them, even when it is you who are going to their country !!!
    On the Worldcup, to answer those 5 year olds who asked the same question several times on what players will wear !! they will wear the same shorts they do everywhere else ! why, because they did say you can wear swimsuits WHERE ITS APPROPRIATE, therefore you can wear sports shorts WHERE ITS APPROPRIATE, on the football field! You can have alcohol WHERE ITS APPROPRIATE.
    Im just amazed at the idiotice logic (if its logic at all) from those who “Don’t want to step foot…” Its best if you dont, as im sure your caliber of intellect isn’t welcome nor required anyway.
    Disclosure, Im not a Qatari nor do I live there. I have many issues with Qatar but this daft debate isn’t one of them.

  23. Just comes to remind us to respect, commend and honor the one and only true free country in the middle east – Israel. Lgbt community there is free to do as pleased and there is noone forcing you to do anything. Love those Eilat beaches (girls….)

  24. @wwk5d — I seriously doubt Sarah Palin would ever voice anything remotely LGBT-positive, so, no.

    I do think the two-way respect issue is separate and apart from the “how to dress” issue, which I should have made clear initially. That is to say, I think we’d all agree that Qataris who visit America should NOT go to Weho with bloodthirst and a bunch of stones.

    My real frustration with this is the hypocrisy of pandering to the tourist dollar. Islam strictly forbids alcohol, but (unlike in Saudi Arabia, which at least is consistent) you can find alcohol at a hotel bar in Qatar, because otherwise tourists wouldn’t come. So on that basis alone, I think tourists are already explicitly exempted from local mores by the government, and should wear whatever they damn well please while they blow coke off a Swarovski-crystal-encrusted Moldavian whore, or whatever it is people do there.

  25. It is bone-chilling and hair-raising to read many above comments. It is evident that no amount of traveling will ever educate the large angry, whiny and entitled population in this country. And it clearly reflects on the politicians’ performance, perception and attitude who Americans vote in the public offices. Traveling fails to mitigate the infectious bigotry, prejudice and short-term vision. We are them when we lower ourselves to their hypocricy and standards. Thus, we are in no position to lecture or criticize anyone else. Traveling shall and must all be about national or local culture, people, religion, history and cuisine. Not a mean of transportation or accommodation. There are four major world civilizations that I know of: Western (in Europe), Chinese, Egyptian and Mayan. Dubai is the only Arab city that most Americans rave about. Yet, is not a representative of any Arab city and it is the black sheep in UAE. It is comparable to Vegas where sins are encouraged and widespread.

  26. “So on that basis alone, I think tourists are already explicitly exempted from local mores by the government”

    You can’t make that assumption. Just because a government lets you do X does not mean you should ignore them when they tell you not to do Y. Plus, not all hotels in Qatar sell alcohol to begin with.

  27. @globetrotter, if the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain et al. were the small nomadic villages they were 30 years ago, then yes, I’d argue there was something to be said about “local culture.” But the vast majority of residents in these nations are foreigners, either expats with money or slave laborers without. The skyscrapers and shopping malls and ATM’s that spit out gold are very much outside whatever local culture was there to begin with. So please don’t make it sound like Qatar is some sort of Florence or Bali or Istanbul. Qatar is entirely manufactured.

    And also I had to stifle a laugh when you said “Americans” are “raving” about Dubai. Far as I know, Dubai is where drunken, pale UK citizens on holiday go to get a tan, and get shitfaced. Dubai is a mecca (pardon) for lots of tourists, but I’d wager to say VERY FEW Americans.

    Also, sins? Encouraged? Widespread? SIGN ME UP. Sounds fun!

  28. @wwk5d, what I’m saying is Qatar is picking and choosing which parts of Shar’ia law and the Koran it chooses to force visitors to comply with. No gay visitors or visitors with tank tops allowed, but then again you can’t make money off of homosexuality or immodest dress, but you sure can make money off alcohol sales, so maybe we’ll just forget about the whole “strict ban on alcohol” thing. Call me a cynic that way, but it really does appear money is the real religion under consideration here.

  29. Oh, this is BS!
    These are some of the ugly faces of Islam which rule so many countries with no rights at all for women.
    Horrible!!! 🙁

  30. So much anger!

    Next up I’d love to see a nudist whine about restaurants requiring “shirts and shoes”. If one can show private parts in the shower, he must also be able to show it in a restaurant, right?

  31. @Patricia
    “If they treat humans like that, then I’ll treat them the exact same way.”
    This makes you no better than them. That was my point.

  32. @Nick

    And so what if they are? It’s their country. And also, the foreigners are drinking in hotels away from the general public. They’re allowing non-Mulim/foreigners to drink in a place that isn’t a public setting. Whereas they’re asking people not to dress a certain way in a public setting, ie, walking down the street or a mall.

  33. @wwk5d – “It’s their country” might be an appropriate response regarding a country with a modicum of democratically elected political or civic institutions, but Qatar ain’t one of them. I think I would be much, much more respectful of “traditional mores” outlined by the State if the population were allowed to participate in the process or the discussion.

  34. I can’t believe this turns into a “XYZ countries suck.” I don’t see a problem with the campaign at all. It’s about cultural differences and we need to respect them. In many European countries, it’s perfectly acceptable to be nude in public. We don’t accept that practice here in the US. Does it mean the US is a backward-ass country???

  35. @wwk5d – as someone pointed out Sarah Palin would not be so pro-gay rights. Patricia strikes me more as a batty feminist Nazi.

  36. @Richard comment #28 just dropped a 10 megaton truth bomb. And to all you self-righteous Americans bleating on about Qatar’s unfair treatment of gays – do you protest as vigorously about Obama’s drone strikes which kill scores of innocent Muslims in the name of keeping the USA “safe from terror?” Thanks, didn’t think so!

  37. @Mikey – I do protest Obama’s use of drones, actually. No country has a completely clean record on human rights, or a monopoly on self-righteousness. Let’s not let any of them off the hook by using “cultural differences” as an excuse for appalling abuses of civil liberties.

  38. Since I’m a woman, I have zero interest in traveling to Qatar, or for that matter any other Middle Eastern country that treats women like second class citizens, of which there are many. There are so many other regions in the world that are much more interesting and tolerant of diversity and, more importantly, of 51% of the human population.

  39. Original article has a comment that this type of campaign is launched every summer. Must be not very successful.

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