The Gulf state of Qatar has a population of approximately one million people, the majority of whom are not Qatari citizens. It seems that many who have come to work in Qatar have the perception that Qataris are aloof; some recent blog posts aim to dispel the myth that it is difficult to get to know Qatari men in particular.
Yousra Abdelaal, a British resident of Qatar, has written a post called The Truth About Qatari Men at Qatar Visitor:
Many expatriates have misconceptions about Qatari men. They think they are unapproachable, do not like to talk or to open up, and that socializing with them is a no-no. Many fellow expatriates have told me that when they see Qatari men in their thowbs and ghetras, that they feel that their traditional dress is somehow a barrier between them as nationals and the expatriates as foreigners. […] The truth is, most Qatari men are approachable, and when you talk to them, they do respond and do open up. […] The typical Qatari man to expatriates wears designer sunglasses, carries a designer pen in his thowb chest pocket, and has the latest mobile and a flashy car or Landcruiser. This image makes us assume that he is rich and leads a luxurious and easy life. While there are many wealthy Qataris out there, the majority are just like us. Many Qatari men actually struggle financially. Many of their flashy cars they took out on a loan from the bank and some of those designer glasses and pens are not genuine. The exterior image they present of perfection is due to a mentality that Qatari men have installed in themselves and amongst themselves: it is all about masculinity and prestige and each Qatari man looks to and to some extent mentally scrutinizes the other, just like women do, hence each Qatari man is self-conscious of how he walks, how neatly pressed his thowb is, what car he drives and even how precisely his beard is trimmed. We wrongly assume that most Qatari men live off their families’ wealth and spend their lives racing in their cars and sitting around in coffee shops. Yes, a minority does, but the majority carries many responsibilities on their shoulders. […] So, my advice to any expatriate is to break down those barriers and get to know real Qatari men.
Kei, a Qatari, writes at Mr Q that he notices a difference in the way people deal with him if he is wearing traditional dress:
Here’s kind of a sad thought, the thobe is such a great piece of clothing, it’s woven and cut in such a way that it keeps you cool by circulating air and due to it’s material and colour (usually white) it blocks heat from the sun. As I was thinking about the thobe I started to think about the advantages and disadvantages that it held at a social level. I notice that if I’m wearing a thobe, some people treat me nicer in stores, in other stores they’ll assume I’m rich and bump up the price. Why is that? That’s discrimination in its purest form. […] In particular, I noted that when I’m wearing a thobe and in the elevator, expats are less likely to say ‘good morning’ to me than if I’m in a suit (which I also wear). […] It could be paranoia or a coincidence, it could be that I’m vigilant, but trust me I don’t look menacing and usually smile and always say Salam when entering an area. […] Solution? More expats need to wear the thobe so that the line between Qataris and non-Qataris is blurred. We do after all live in a country which I’m proud to say is becoming more International and globally tolerant (I hope). Oh and for those who are actually thinking of getting a thobe, do it! Qataris will be happy at the fact that expats are adopting their culture and you’ll feel much more comfortable too!