Sunday, November 08, 2009

Where are all the Qataris?

Something I have found unusual about Qataris is that the society tends to keep to itself and its own activities. the Government spends a lot of money to bring activities to the country but for the most part the local citizens do not attend them. The tennis tournaments, the Tribeca film festival, speedboat races, heck I'm not sure if any of the Qataris I know have been to the Museum of Islamic Art yet! The Qatar Natural History Group meetings tend not to have any locals in attendance either.

That's not to say Qataris avoid all events, a prominent football (soccer) match will have the locals out in droves and festivities such as National Day has thousands of Qataris on the Corniche celebrating. They just tend to skip events that a lot of Westerners find interesting. It just makes me wonder why the Government places an emphasis on bringing events here that citizens are ambivalent about (not that I'm complaining mind you, it is great that I can go see all of these things.) I was even talking to a Qatari colleague who is going on a trip to a major European city and he plans to do some shopping but not go to any of the museums or other highlights. To each their own I suppose. My friend Abdulla had no problem with wandering around Japan experiencing all of its unusual things but told me the travel will likely end once he gets married because most Qatari women do not like to travel. Maybe Qataris as a society are just not as adventurous as other cultures and prefer to stay at home? I'll have to ask about that.

Anyway, for the benefit of any newcomers reading the blog, where can you usually find a lot of Qataris?

Coffee Shops
Restaurants and cafes of five-star hotels
Souq Waqif
Beaches where jet skiing is popular
Parks (they love going to the parks with their children)
The sand dunes near the Inland Sea
Local football matches; and
Mosques (naturally)

I'm sure there are other places but until such time as my Arabic improves enough to read the local Arabic newspapers I will not know what the local citizenry are up to


Mohammed Alhamadi said...

Interesting blog. I am a Qatari who lived overseas for over six years, and came back a couple of years ago. The first thing that I noticed was the huge number of foreigners in the country, but what was weird to me the fact that there is no interaction between the locals, and the foreigners!! I have many western colleges, and whenever I ask them if they have local friends, or if they interact with the locals, the answer is always a BIG NO. I have no clue why, even though, it is a major part of our culture "as traders, pearl divers, ect." plus the fact that Doha has been always a business port, that the interaction between the locals and the foreigners is natural. What I have noticed is that the foreigners have this prejudged assumption which is based totally on stereotypes either heard from fellow expats, or from blogs, website, and other media interfaces that would show us locals as isolated people who wont like to have any interaction with the expats! I always push my expats friends to meet more locals, and just try to make conversation with them. this would remove the stereotype and fill up the cultural gap which would build up a better understanding and a better relationship between the two..
It was great to go through ur blog, and keep on posting,, wish u the best of luck..


Glen McKay said...

Thanks Mohammed. I am fortuante to have made Qatari friends through work but outside of work I have not met any others. Not that I'm surprised, most of the activities I'm involved in is not really much of an opportunity to meet Qatais: QNHG, lazing by the pool, meeting friends for shisha at Souq Waqif, or going to comedy night at the Ramada. You also tend not to meet Qataris in day-to-day transactions since store clerks and other workers are from other countries. Even workers in Islamic centres or Arabic teachers are from other countries.

In time I'm sure I will meet more.