Culture Clash

December 21, 2013 - 2:42:44 am


This is the time of the year when the world slips into a festive mood. And like every year, this year too talk has begun in the Qatari community about the nature of celebrations that will unfold here over the next few days.


If the social media is a barometer of the community’s feelings, there seems to be a perceptible change in the way people look at Christmas and New Year revelries in the country.

There is no trace of hostility in people’s comments. They are rather calling for the need for moderation in the celebrations and people not going overboard and offending Qatari social and cultural sensibilities.

Just a few weeks ago, a plan to hold a dance festival where a host of foreign artistes were to perform was shelved due to opposition from the Qatari community.

According to a famous Qatari sociologist, Dr Ali Al Shawi Al Marri, however, that was because it might have been way too much for the Qatari society to digest.

Commenting on a local social networking site, a commentator said of the current festive season that many singers and musicians from some Arab countries like Lebanon come here and introduce themselves to GCC audiences.

Another commentator said that it was alright for people to follow their traditions, but they shouldn’t be emulated.

“There are some people who travel overseas to celebrate Christmas and New Year,” said yet another commentator.

Al Shawi Al Marri went as far as conveying his greetings to people on the occasion. “Let me wish, through your daily, fellow Qataris a happy National Day and merry Christmas and happy New Year to everyone”.

“Society is synonymous with an ever-changing process. It isn’t something static,” he said. “This is an era of globalisation and Doha is a global city.”

“We were a traditional society some time ago. Yes. But with the changes taking place in our demography and culture, we are also undergoing transformation.”

“We now have a diverse culture, a rich cultural mix among us, and that is a healthy situation… Society resists change but it is after all malleable.” 

“In the altered situation today, we must accept such celebrations as for Christmas and New Year.”

He said that in Arab countries like Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt, Muslims and Christians actually celebrate these events together.

Al Shawi Al Marri, who said he had lived in the US for 12 years, hinted that the cultural tolerance of the West was worth emulating.


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