Recently, while trying to make a booking for a hotel, I was unable to find Qatar in the list of options for country of residence. When I called the customer service number of this particular website, they told me to select the UAE country option in the menu.
Selecting the UAE did in fact allow my reservation to be processed, despite the fact that Qatar is not, nor never has been, part of the United Arab Emirates.
The customer service person did not seem too interested in my feedback. Based in the UK, I assume all of us Gulf states strike him the same.
This is a problem I often have when talking about Doha with people in North America as well.
“How is life in Dubai?” someone asked me at my dissertation defense.
“Well, I live in Doha,” I replied.
Perhaps it’s not a stigma of the Gulf alone, since I remember having simliar conversations after moving to Pittsburgh, PA.
“How do you like Philadelphia?” friends would ask.
People must shift to the register they know the best – hence the Dubai/Philadelphia mix ups.
But I’m pretty sure no one was ever told to pick Philly when they wanted the Burgh on a travel site.