DOHA: ‘Reflect Your Respect’, an initiative to promote respect for Qatari customs and traditions and raise awareness on laws on public decorum, was launched at five locations in Doha yesterday.
“As the name of the campaign suggests, it is about respecting laws and traditions. Once a foreigner enters Qatar, they become one of us so they have to respect our customs and traditions,” Mohammad Al Muftah of Qatar Centre for Voluntary Activities (QCVA), told this daily.
QCVA and Qatari Women Association, in collaboration with Dar Al Sharq, are spearheading the campaign.
Volunteers distributed flyers containing the proper way of dressing for men and women and laws governing public decorum.
Article 57 of Qatar’s Constitution reads: “Respect for the Constitution, compliance with the laws issued by public authorities, abiding by requirements of public order and public decorum, and observing national traditions and deep-rooted customs are duties of all who live in Qatar or enter its territory.”
According to Article 290 of Qatar Penal Code: “Whoever makes gestures, dares to say or sing immoral things or perform obscene acts in public place or open space shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding six months and/or a fine not exceeding QR3,000.”
“Many people are not aware that these laws exist and we want to activate the laws,” said Al Muftah.
The flyers also indicate the number of Aladheed (Social Security) people can call if they notice violations, he added.
“We want to raise awareness about our customs and traditions among foreigners so they avoid violating them. Maybe, they do things that are normal in their countries but unacceptable here so they must be aware of these,” added Al Muftah.
Khalid Al Shaibi, a volunteer, echoed similar sentiments and said, “The event is more about raising awareness of Islamic culture in Qatar and protecting foreigners from getting penalty as stipulated in the Constitution.”
A main focus of the campaign is on the acceptable way of dressing which should cover the shoulders and knees.
“We would like to protect them before they are penalised for not dressing well. The campaign is about raising awareness in a friendly way and shows how Qatar upholds its culture and traditions,” said Al Shaibi.
“It’s a shame if someone comes to Qatar and gets penalty for something they don’t know about, so we think it is our responsibility to raise awareness of foreigners and visitors and all segments of society, including kids, teenagers and adults.”
The campaign was launched in Souq Waqif, and four malls — Villaggio, Ezdan, Lagoona and Landmark.
“We have about 40 to 50 volunteers and we are trying to make it bigger and have wider coverage in all malls. We will also make videos about the campaign and show them in malls and later on TV and at cinemas,” Al Muftah said, adding advertisements are also published in newspapers and magazines.
He expressed belief that the campaign will impact positively on the Qatari society “in such a way that our traditions will be kept safe as people coming to Qatar will learn to respect them.”