According to Qatari tradition, each household is part of a clan, which is a group of related families. Clans are parts of much larger tribes. Tribes are, in effect, large extended families. Although tribes were once distinguished by differences of speech, dress and customs, in modern Qatar these differences have largely been erased. Nevertheless, ties among members of a tribe remain strong.

In the past, some tribes were nomadic, living in tents that could easily be packed up and moved. Today, a few people still live semi-nomadic lives in the desert, but most people have settled in cities and towns and have jobs in industry or with government. Most families live in individual houses. The government provides housing for all citizens who need it. Private companies or government agencies that hire foreign workers also provide them with housing.

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The separation of men and women in Qatari society extends to places of prayer, government offices, shops and even elevators.
People tend to marry within the tribe. Marriage is a family and business matter. Virtually all marriages are arranged, sometimes even when the concerned parties are quite young. Girls are deemed of marriageable age at about 14 or 15 years old. In the past, girls as young as 12 could be married, but the trend in recent years is to wait until the girl has completed her education. The groom's family traditionally pays a bride-price to the bride's family before the wedding. Qatari weddings are elaborate affairs, lasting several days. There are separate ceremonies and celebrations for women and men.

Hospitality is an important feature of Qatari life. Most Qataris receive male guests at home in a majlis (reception area). Traditionally, according to Bedouin custom, guests were seated on the floor on large cushions. Nowadays, however, the majlis usually has sofas and chairs. Men and women rarely socialize together. Women receive their friends in a separate part of the house.

Most Qatari women, especially older ones, wear the thoub, a long black coat, which covers the entire body, and a hejab, a black headcovering through which only the eyes, nose and mouth are visible. Underneath the thoub, women often wear Western-style clothes. Despite these restrictions, Qatari women are permitted to drive cars. They are also eager to become more educated and compete with men in different professions. There are considerably more female than male students attending Qatar University.

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Although the Qatar government provides extensive social services and would provide for any elderly citizen in need, most Qatari children would consider it shameful not to care for elderly parents within the family.