The real way to pronounce Qatar – and even the national airline gets it wrong

You’ve been pronouncing ‘Qatar’ wrong your entire life: The real way to pronounce the footballing host nation is revealed – so are you saying it right?

  • Qataris claim everyone is pronouncing the name of their country wrong
  • Even their national airline has adopted the incorrect ‘English’ pronunciation
  • He says there are two acceptable local ways to say Qatar kuh-tar and guh-tar

The tiny Arabic Gulf state of Qatar has been in the headlines for weeks in the lead up to the coveted Football World Cup – but most people are pronouncing it wrong.

Popular pronunciations include cutter, cat-tarr, katt-ter and quah-tar, with most paying far too much attention to the beginning of the word. 

But, according to locals, only two slightly different pronunciations are acceptable: kuh-tar and guh-tar. Both giving emphasis to the last syllable, especially the ‘r’ sound and softening out the first.

'Mr Q' says most people pronounce his home country wrong - including the national airline which has adopted the 'English' version of the name

‘Mr Q’ says most people pronounce his home country wrong – including the national airline which has adopted the ‘English’ version of the name

Kuh-tar – which has a very soft kuh sound followed by a firmer TAR, appears to be the most commonly accepted pronunciation within the country’s capital Doha, including at the airport and in high-end hospitality settings.

The slight variation guh-tar, which softens the Q’s ‘k’ sound to the point it almost sounds like a ‘g’ appeared to be more popular among the working and poor classes as well in very rural areas.

How to pronounce Qatar 

There are two acceptable pronounciations:

kuh-tar (with a rolling r and soft first syllable) 

guh-tar (with a rolling r and soft first syllable)

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A popular Qatari YouTuber known as ‘Mr Q’ posted an in-depth video where he poked fun at everyone mispronouncing the name of his country.

He confirmed the soft kuh-tar and localised guh-tar were the only two correct ways to say the country’s name. 

‘Q-Tip, how to pronounce Qatar properly,’ he titled the video which had 445k views. 

‘I have gone ahead and noticed a lot of foreigners are teaching foreigners how to pronounce Qatar,’ he said.

Before sharing a clip of news anchors and politicians pronouncing the country’s name in their own unique ways.

He explained that even when he googled ‘how to pronounce Qatar’ he found a ‘lot of wrong stuff’.

This included one newsman who claimed Qatar was best pronounced cutt-tar and not cutter.

The Fifa World Cup runs through to December 19 - and has made Qatar one of the most talked-about countries on the planet this week

The Fifa World Cup runs through to December 19 – and has made Qatar one of the most talked-about countries on the planet this week

‘Mr Q’ went on to say the name of his country ‘correctly’ using both the ‘kuh’ and ‘guh’ sounds and said it is important to ‘close your throat’ to get it right.

He also rolled the ‘r’ sound on ‘tar’.

At the end of the video he shows off a clip from Qatar Airways’, the country’s own airline which pronounce it in the ‘English’ way, without the rolling ‘r’ sound.

‘Officially, internationally, you can also say cat-tar which is why they say ‘cat-tar’ airways,’ he said.

‘At the end of the day I hope you can pronounce it as ‘guh-tar’ because it is hyper-local and really appreciated,’ he said. 

But it appears most people pronounce the country's name wrong

But it appears most people pronounce the country’s name wrong 

Over 6,000 people liked the video with many thanking him for making it ‘cool and fun’ as well as educational. 

‘I was told several pronunciations and they all felt wrong. Now I can talk about moving there to others and pronounce it correctly. After some practice of course,’ one woman said.

‘I have had a look at the different people pronouncing this online teaching people badly and wrong in the most officially wrong way. This from you is more reassuring as I must record something with Qatar and will opt for the sound of GIHDDARRH,’ added another. 

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