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Calm Vessels

Cultural Expectations of Pregnant Women in Qatar

Susie Kilshaw, Daniel Miller, Halima Al Tamimi, Faten El-Taher, Mona Mohsen, Nadia Omar, Stella Major and Kristina Sole

This article explores emerging themes from the first stage of ethnographic research investigating pregnancy and loss in Qatar. Issues around the development of foetal personhood, the medical management of the pregnant body and the social role of the pregnant woman are explored. Findings suggest that Qatari women are expected to be calm vessels for their growing baby and should avoid certain foods and behaviours. These ideas of risk avoidance are linked to indigenous knowledge around a mother’s influence on a child’s health and traits. Motherhood holds a particularly important place in Qatari culture and in Islam, and women are ultimately responsible for protecting and promoting fertility and for producing healthy children.

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A. Hadi Alshawi and Andrew Gardner

This article examines the resurgence of tribalism as a sociological component of contemporary Qatari society. Utilising an ethnographic, mixed-methods design, the article begins with a survey of the substantial scholarship concerning tribes in Arabia. That scholarship provides ideas and understandings that only partially explain the vitality of contemporary tribalism. The article then demonstrates tribalism's ongoing social importance by analysing data from a quantitative survey of 800 Qatari citizens. The article concludes with the ethnographically situated contention that tribalism functions as a mechanism for asserting social power in the contemporary Qatari state, and is therefore an emblematic component of Qatari citizenship.

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Finding a Place to Sit

How Qatari Women Combine Cultural and Kinship Capital in the Home Majlis

Rehenuma Asmi

As Qatari women attend and graduate from institutions of higher education and many enter the work force, their mobility and visibility increasingly juxtaposes their roles in the family and tribe with their new roles as partners in the creation of a nation. I utilise ethnographic data from fieldwork in two Qatari home majâles (sitting rooms) to understand how Qatari women negotiate their new roles in society. Qatari women have increasing forms of cultural capital in one arena but also have recourse to kinship capital, where gender segregation and family name protect women’s social status. I argue that Qatari women combine the different forms of capital available to them in order to ‘find a place to sit’ in the new Qatari nation.

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Reports

Books, Films and Conferences

Soraya Tremayne

BOOKS

Zyarah, Khaled (1997), Gulf Folk Arts, trans. by K. Bishtawi (Doha: Al-Ahleir Press). 63 Arabic pages and 58 English pages. Every chapter has a black and white picture.

Al Bagdadi, Khaled (2004), Hassan Al Mulla. e Memory of Man and Place (Doha: Doha Modern Printing Press). 184 pages, illustrated in colour. 10 pages of English text, trans. by Samar Al Hussein. Taha, Dr. Munir (2003), Qatar in Prehistoric Times (Doha: Antiquities and Museums Department). 144 pages, 4 maps, 46 pages illustrated heavily in col- our or black and white pictures and drawings.

FILMS

Sheikholeslami, Mahvash (2003), Murderer or Murdered, 26 minutes.

CONFERENCES

‘Gamete and Embryo Donation in Infertility Treatment’, 1–2 March 2006, Tehran, Iran

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Introduction

Material Culture of the Middle East, Its Intangible Dimensions and New Museums

Janet Blake and Danila Mayer

In this issue of Anthropology of the Middle East, we present contributions that deal with museums, museology and their approaches to the new social situations through which they must navigate. Cutting a swathe very generously around the Mediterranean and the Middle East – from Tunis to Qatar, Turkey and, as an extension, to Austria – we bring together articles that look closely into some acute issues of today: the transformation from colonial to post-colonial and its reverberant impacts, from national to post-national and transnational societies both in Europe and the Middle East, and to the stringencies of material culture, cultural heritage and ‘meaningful objects’, and how to preserve, to analyse and to exhibit them. All contributors dedicate their works published here to the social, cultural and economic changes affecting societies and communities, and to the demands that increasing diversity presents as challenges to cultural institutions and their personnel.

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Migration and the Persian Gulf

Demography, Identity and the Road to Equitable Policies

Ali Modarres

In 2005, the nations of the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC), which consist of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, housed over 12 million international migrants. Employed mainly within the service and construction industries, these foreign workers have become a demographic majority in some GCC countries, creating an urgent need for more progressive immigration and equitable integration policies. This article provides an overview of migration to the region, situating it within the larger global emigration/immigration context. By focusing on the various stages of migration and the economic role played by migrants, the article argues for policies that protect the economic, social and political rights of labour migrants. It concludes with recommendations that consider conditions in both the GCC and migrants' countries of origin.

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'Rudely Interrupted'

Shakespeare and Terrorism

Graham Holderness and Bryan Loughrey

On Saturday 19 March, 2005, Omar Ahmed Abdullah Ali tidied his workstation at Qatar Petroleum and shut down his computer for the last time. There were very few people in the offi ce that day, and none of them noticed anything unusual about his behaviour. They recalled him afterwards as ‘a decent man’, a family man whose wife had, only a month before, given birth to their third child. Earlier that morning the 38-year old Egyptian computer programmer had said goodbye to Umm Abdullah and his three children quite normally, as if nothing unusual were about to occur. I am not what I am. Now he left the offi ce quietly, unassumingly, attracting no attention, and went to collect his black Land Cruiser from the company car park. Driving slowly and carefully, he pulled the car onto the road and headed towards the Doha suburb of Fariq Kalaib.

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The Silent Spring

Why Pro-democracy Activity Was Avoided in Gulf Nations during the Arab Spring

Charles Mitchell, Juliet Dinkha and Aya Abdulhamid

This article explores the Arab Spring uprisings that started in late 2010, and investigates why pro-democracy movements were circumvented in most Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Our research is qualitative in nature, and looks into the antecedents of the revolts in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, and Yemen to ascertain why revolutionary activity was precluded in Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. Through the utilization of academic research, news sources, governmental, intergovernmental organization, and international nongovernmental organization reports and policy papers, we conclude that the generous allocations of public goods and the extant and reactive government policies during the Arab Spring period successfully preempted revolutionary activities in the Gulf. In this article, we also examine the only Gulf country outlier, Bahrain, by investigating what policies and conditions led to outbreaks of large-scale pro-democracy demonstrations in that nation.

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Editorial

Today, Is 'Ethnicity' the Most Important Topic in the Middle East?

Soheila Shahshahani

It was decided by the editorial board of AME that some issues of the journal should be open-themed so that new topics of interest to researchers could have a place to be presented, and, in this way, perhaps new horizons of scholarship could be opened up. This issue was an open-theme issue but, amazingly, all the articles are concerned in one way or other with ethnicity. Would it be incorrect to call this the most important concern in the Middle East today? I think there is some truth to it, as our articles show: from concern with nation formation through enculturation in mahallah’s of Uzbekistan; to linguistic behaviour in two regions in Uzbekistan; to ethnic conflict and violence in Kyrgyzstan; the Turkish diaspora returning to Turkey and trying to set a superior example; and last but not least the emblem of a prosperous nation, Qatar, claiming not only tribal origins but also acting democratically through tribal delineation at times of voting. This is exactly what I have observed in southern Iran where people vote according to tribal lines. The same topic was evoked in ‘You Have Car Insurance, We Have Tribes’ (AME 6 no. 1, 2011).