Friday, September 30, 2011

The X Factor: Cultural Diffusion

The new season of The X Factor has started, and with it comes talent, drama, and the U.S. version of the show. Simon Cowell, creator of the successful reality TV show, decided it was time to take The X Factor across the Atlantic, and so The X Factor (US) was born.What makes this show so successful? It has proven to have an impact on the viewers in the United Kingdom, but what makes Cowell sure it will do the same in the United States? These questions can be answered by looking at cultural diffusion, and the unwritten rules of the shows subculture.

The X Factor (UK), broadcast on ITV1, consists of four celebrity judges, and the contestants. The contestant must be at least 16 years old to audition. After the auditions, each judge is given a certain category to mentor, Girls, Boys, Over 25s, or Groups. The U.S. version of the show differs slightly form the original format, with the age of the contestants starting at 12, and the Over 25 category extended to the Over 30 category.

We can say that The X Factor is being culturally diffused, because the show is a subculture that belongs to a different society and it is being adapted by another society. By taking the show to the Unites States, Cowell is diffusing the subculture amongst another group of Westerners. How is it being diffused? It is diffused through mass media, of course. The show is broadcast to a large audience and is sending out a message to them. The message can be seen as entertainment, competition, or going after one’s dreams.

Within the subculture of The X Factor there are certain unwritten rules of the show that have remained the same in both versions of the show. This could be due to a secret formula that seems to attract audiences in the Western world. There are always those with the touching stories, and the freaks who are talentless but are put through for the sake of audiences. The contestants are all competing against each other, and so are the judges. Everyone wants to be the winner, and from what I’ve seen that is an outlook that is very popular in the Western world. I doubt North Korea would want to have its own version of the show promoting the ideology of winner takes it all.

The X Factor has disseminated its culture to the United States, and the reason why is because it has adapted to their interests. At the same time the show didn’t change drastically, this could be due to the fact that both shows are from Western countries, but nevertheless it was altered to fit into a different society.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Religious Diversity and Coexistence

A person who is not familiar with the Middle East and its culture would probably assume that the only religion practiced in the region is Islam. However this is not entirely true. Although Islam is the most widely practiced religion in the Middle East, Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism also have a significant amount of followers.

When I moved to Qatar 4 years ago, I was surprised to learn that there was religious tolerance here. Being Catholics, my family and I were pleased to know that there was a Church available. Although, at the time, mass was celebrated in a small establishment, the fact that us Catholics were given the premises to practice our faith was a great privilege. The official and much larger Church (Our Lady of the Holy Rosary) was completed and officially open in 2008. The Church itself is a symbol of our religion, and so being provided with the large area of land and the opportunity to practice in a proper location is considered an immense blessing.

As with all religions, Catholicism incorporates both material and nonmaterial culture. The Church, both physically and spiritually, is an example of material and nonmaterial culture. The fact that the Church is tangible, symbolizes Christianity, and is an essential component of our religion – the place where we celebrate mass and pray – establishes the material aspect of culture. The non-material aspect of the Church is what happens during a mass. When we all pray and sing together, we are united on a spiritual level, incorporating our values and beliefs in a common language.

In the Catholic Church, singing is of great importance and significance. It is believed that singing praises is more powerful than reciting prayers. I am proud to say that I am a member of one of many choirs in our Church. The choir that I am a part of loves to compose music that reaches out to the spirituality within people and which also makes the mass more inspiring.

The fact that two religions, Islam and Christianity, can coexist quite peacefully in a region where the dominantly practiced faith is Islam, contributes to the process of diversification. Coexistence is the essential element that will help, not only avoid conflict but in understanding people’s attitudes and beliefs.

How I Prefer Qatari Culture

My relationship with Qatar goes back to the day I was born, which means I have been in Qatar all my life. I was born and brought up in a street named Al Nasr (nearby Al Sadd). However, I was not educated in a Qatari school, but in an Indian school. I am not writing a biography about my life, or me, but I am going to explain how I have become a part of Qatar, culturally and socially.

As a little kid, I used to hang around with some of the Qatari kids. As a result I got to learn the Qatari version of Arabic language, their culture and it was religiously easy for me to integrate with them because I am a Muslim like most of them. I am at a stage where I love Arab food more than anything. I even got some of their passion for football, which I think is a blessing because Indians are crazy about cricket and I despise that sport. Most importantly, I was able to get rid of the culture shock. For instance, I was used to being a guest at my friends’ Majlis, a place basically where all the Qatari men gather to drink coffee, watch football and gossip. I was aware of the folkways and the accepted behaviors in such a place.

At the same time, I am also in touch with my mother culture. I can speak my mother tongue fluently, still love the Indian food that mom cooks and I am well aware of Indian history, culture and heritage. Many of the Indian folkways are still foreign to me because there are a number of them, but I am still very comfortable with the Indian way of doing things. However, I do not play cricket.

If I had to make a choice between Qatar and India, I think I would choose Qatar, the reason being my emotional attachment to this country. With globalization, I can still relate to my Indian backgrounds with ease and at the same time be a part of different social and cultural groups.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Karen: Torn Between Two Lands

This summer I had the opportunity to go to Thailand for a community service trip. We went to a small village in northern Thailand situated near the Burmese-Thai border. This village is inhabited mostly by the Karen people, an indigenous Burmese tribe that belonged to the Golden Triangle. The aim of our trip was to help build a small library for the village school. When I first arrived, I didn't know what to expect because I've never really been to a village before. To reach our destination, we had to take a 7 hour flight from Doha to Bangkok and then an hour flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and then a 10 hour drive to the lodge next to the village. The lodge itself was an hour away from the village.

Unlike many of the Mexicans living in the United States as illegal immigrants, although ethnically Burmese, the Karen people of northern Thailand are legal citizens and are issued Thai identities. Similar to the Mexicans who fled their homeland due to economic and personal hardships, the Karen fled Burma to escape conflict occurring between them and the Burmese government, creating a serious internal conflict. Many of these issues are a cause of differences in religious affiliation and political opinion. However, because of these social, economical and political setbacks many of them have formed their own subculture within an already existing Thai culture, yet maintaining their Karen identity.

In the same way the majority of Mexicans in the U.S. belong to the proletariat class, performing all the unwanted jobs that provide no benefits and very little pay, the Karen find themselves in the same situation, working for the bourgeoisie that live mostly in the cities. They also depend heavily on tourism and rely on tourists and visitors purchasing their hand made products. It is undeniable that the presence of Mexicans adds a richness to American culture, history and society. Likewise, this latent function is also visible with the Karen, being a minority in Thailand, they have contributed to enhancing Thai culture and creating social interactions between each other.

From a sociological point of view we see how cultural diffusion exists within the Karen society. I was surprised to find out that they do many of the things that we do despite the difference in environments. For example, there was a proper children's playground in the village that had swings, slides and other games and there was even a football field with a goal post and everything. It may seem that they're so far from civilization but we see how ideas can spread from one society and diffuse quickly into another.

Furthermore, despite their efforts to maintain their own identity it is evident that the Karen have undergone socialization and internalization. They are socialized in the sense that they learn skills and attain norms that allow them to function and adapt to their environment. For instance, I was not used to being exposed to so many different insects all at once, however the children there would chase them play with them and even touch them! The boys there learn how to hunt and fish, while the girls learn how to sew. Although ethnically they are not Thai, I found that they speak Thai but with a different dialect and adhere to Buddhism like the majority of Thais. I noticed that even in their homes and schools they have pictures of the Thai King. They have internalized themselves into Thai society.

Cultural Diffusion

The diffusion of culture often brings paradoxes into the society. The borrowed diffusion of Mcdonalds tends to be one of the outstanding contradictions in Qatar and the Islamic region. Therefore, the question is, will the Qatari society be able to absorb both dining norms and hold its heritage?

McDonalds within Qatar seems to be one of the major paradoxes in our society. McDonalds has affected the society and its norms of dining that we don’t even realise. In this case, Islamic culture is rooted in the Qatari society, which tends to pinpoint unity, ritual habits of dining and family-orientated occasions. Muslims have numerous outstanding rituals when dining. In refrence to Ahadiths, Muslims should avoid sitting at the table when possible, eat with the right hand as Satan uses the left, then lick fingers and plate after dinning. Then ask for forgiveness and drink within three gulps. Therefore, dinning within an Islamic society does not seem to be as simple as eating at the dinning table. On the other hand, none of these ritauls take place while eating at McDonalds. By eating in Mcdonalds, we do not practice the Islamic rituals, but adapt to the Americanized fastfood ways of eating. Additionally, the family orientation and unity may be lost when dining in Mcdonalds, as it is a shortcut to traditional ways of eating. As a result, McDonalds represents the western dominance over the MiddleEast and Islamic way of dinning.

To conclude, norms of Islamic dining within the society are eventually wearing away as the younger generation Americanizes the cultural dining norms. Therefore, the society may keep hold of the cultural familiarities, but they are going to change overtime.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The popular Culture in Clueless the Movie

When we feel impotent and out of control, and feel we are in need for a sanctuary in a place where we could gather our thoughts and regain our strength, where would we go? Well, according to Cher, we should go to the mall!  
Clueless is a comedy film directed by Amy Heckerling that was produced in 1995. The story is based on Jane Austin’s novel “Emma”; however, the setting is different, where the story takes place in Beverly Hills in the 1990s.
The film portrays the material and non-material culture of Beverly Hills’ high school kids, with all their values, beliefs, and norms.  Cher, the main character in the film, is a rich teenager, whose mother died long time ago while undergoing liposuction. She is obsessed with fashion, shopping, and matchmaking; yet, she is not interested in dating high school boys. Her ex stepbrother Josh is a college student, who keeps teasing Cher for being selfish and superficial, and tells her that her only direction in life is ‘toward the mall’. 

The film portrays the popular culture in Beverly Hills using sarcasm. Most of the people are materialistic, obsessed with fashion, dating, and plastic surgery. For example, a lot of high school girls had a bandage on their noses, and some on their chins, which mocks the fact that plastic surgery, and especially having a nose job, is a norm in this society. Moreover, one of the girls, trying to avoid tennis practice in school, tells the teacher that her plastic surgeon doesn’t want her to do any activity where balls fly at her nose. Another thing that contributes to this irony is the death of Cher’s mom while undergoing a liposuction surgery. The obsession with fashion is also exaggerated and observed when Cher designs her clothes in the morning on a computer screen rather than on her own body.

     This is the common culture in Beverly Hills, or the large subculture of the rich. People are expected to be fashionable, and this is shown when the new girl arrived to the school looking like a farmer, as one of the girls said. However, Cher and her friend Donnie decided to use their popularity for a good cause and start their “project” to give the poor girl a new look, so she would be able to fit in their society. Moreover, The girls have their own female language including terms that substitutes for things like period and sex. 

The film portrays the materialistic life people in Beverly Hills live. They understand the language of brands, the shopping mall is considered to be a place where Cher can concentrate, think and get focused. As Josh, Cher’s ex-stepbrother, says, Cher’s ‘only direction in life’ is ‘towards the mall’.  According to Coonie, ‘Cher’s main thrill in life’ is to give someone a makeover, ‘it gives her a sense of control in a world full of chaos.’   

The popular cultural represented in the film was shown to an extreme level of exaggeration and irony, however 16 years after the film release this popular cultural, based on materialism and consumerism, is now found not only in the US but also worldwide.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The sociology behind conquering Everest

Mountains contribute significantly to the material culture of Oman. However, the Omani society hardly explores these mountains through hiking or climbing them due to the extremely hot climate and lack of awareness among the citizens in participating in such adventures. Nevertheless, a 37 year-old Omani has succeeded in putting Oman for the first time in the mountaineering records. Khalid Al-Siyabi, a general director of IT in the Ministry of Education has reached the summit of the World’s highest mountain, Everest, at 8848 meters above sea level. On the 10th of July 2011, I was honored to interview this motivational personality to feature him in my first book “The Ultimate Wellness Inspiration.”

Here is what we talked about:

Training for Everest:

Khalid’s concept to be well-prepared for this extraordinary challenge was to incorporate physical and mental training. For his physical training, Khalid was running between an hour to three, cycling, climbing and swimming everyday. Regarding his mental training, he invented a technique called “ The Extra Mile.”, which is whenever his mind starts to send the “I can’t do it” signals, for instance in the last 5 minutes of his run, he increases an extra 5 minute as a punishment for his complaining brain. This helps him to achieve his adventurous goals no matter how hard it gets.

Climbing Everest:

There are multiple norms that Khalid followed to start his journey. First, he had his full gear in check which includes climbing boots, linear socks, technical clothing, wool hat, ski goggles, gloves, harness, sleeping bag, compass, water purifier, cameras, walkie-talkies, satellite phones, first-aid kit and sundries. The functionalist theory was obviously applied during the expedition as Khalid was accompanied by 19 fellow climbers coming from Argentina, the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Turkey, Finland and Australia. The age range was about 35 to 60, and there were 3 women in the team – 2 Canadians and one from Finland. There were 36 Sherpa who guided them throughout the expedition. Despite the differences of the culture of all the participants in the adventure, Mount Everest united this diverse subculture.

Khalid took 60 days to reach the top and seven days to go down. Khalid explained to me why it takes so much time going up; it is the acclimatization process. In order to go to a higher level our bodies need to get adapted to the new tough circumstances, so the climbers take it gradually by spending an hour in the new level then come back down to the original base camp. This gives their bodies a chance to make more red blood cells and gives a chance to the person to recognize his capabilities in going further or not.

When Khalid reached the peak, he was really angry for celebrating his semi-achievement on his own as many of his fellow climbers reached the summit at different times and three of them died trying. This explains how solidarity is important for one to stay happy with life. So in order to remain positive, Khalid planted the Omani flag on the summit as a symbol of patriotism and pride for his country.

However, thirty minutes later Khalid noticed a vicious avalanche making its way to the top and it would take Khalid around 6 hours to make his descent. So he decided to wrap his 9 liter bag pack around his waist, sit on it and slide downwards as the fastest way to maybe escape the disaster and with his great faith in God and focused state of mind, he arrived down safely.

His winning formula

The non-material culture embraces some components that emphasize the reason Khalid is able to accomplish such spectacular goals. His strong self-belief has empowered him to stay committed and motivated to endure his brutal training because the outcome is valuable. To be honored by a lot of key people in Oman and be recognized as a symbol of inspiration to all the rising Omanis, made Khalid feel fulfilled and encouraged to give more for his country. He also volunteers in motivational speaking in schools across Oman. After the mind-enriching interview I had, Khalid showed me on his laptop one of the inspiring presentations he had done during his motivational speeches. Not only was I astonished by the photos and videos of his thrilling undertakings, I was also on the edge of my seat ready to conquer my fears and take my life more seriously. And four magic phrases I learned from this fantastic personality were Don’t Complain, Be Positive, Commitment and Trust. With such optimistic mindset, we can all climb Everest!!

Khalid and I among friends hiking in Oman

A Controlled Society

Free press has been recently introduced as a new tool in which society brings about change. Journalists such as Keith Olbermann of MSNBC are well aware of the power in their words to influence people in positions of power. As Finley said: “Journalists should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
Upon viewing a special comment from Keith Olbermann on the current situation in the United States, I was surprised of how he was able to say most of the points he said. Realizing that the United States may not be completely censored, yet, not completely free and open to everything, I wondered how it was ever possible to have that freedom to insult the president!

Compared to the United States, Qatar has a censored press and is regulated in one particular format. However, It is still a very efficient means of censorship because it withholds the biggest and widely famous news network, Al-Jazeera. Considering Qatar to be the headquarters of a news network that reached more than half of the world’s population, it is not possible that censorship be enforced. Many of the citizens do not feel comfortable in giving out information, perhaps not due to the fear of being prosecuted. But there is a general unease to speak about certain topics to people they generally not of acquaintances.

The video was a message in response to president Bush’s response to an interview. He spoke about the Iraqi war and of the consequences and aftermath of incidents such as 9/11 and the war on terror. Olbermann’s comments are well justified by logical reasons on his part and perhaps created controversy as it came out.

The US was a situation where radical changes came about to reform and shape the way in which people think. On the other hand, Qatar is given credit as to being a nation open to change and development. There perhaps could be a chance in which censorship could be lifted from its press and open out to ideas. In the near future perhaps even more open to political and social change.

In conclusion, the link to sociology is that different people think differently. The way through to anyone is by using familiar ways in which relate to topics. Olbermann wanted to afflict a comfortable president to make him well aware of his answers to that interview. He used bold statements and argumentative language to explain he is upset. Olbermann then comforts the afflicted where he shows an upset persona when addressing the issue.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

North Korea VS Qatar

The eye-opening documentary “A State of Mind” is centered on two North Korean gymnasts, Pak Hyon Sun and Kim Song Yun, who are preparing for the Pyongyang mass games, an annual event in NorthKorea. Throughout this documentary we not only see the ongoing struggles and challenges the girls face but also how their everyday life is, living in a communist run country that is extremely secluded from the rest of the world. After watching the documentary, the vast differences in culture between Qatar and North Korea were extremely apparent especially when it came to cultural diffusion, but regardless of North Korea’s ethnocentrism, some sociological similarities were visible as well.

The importance of family is a major one. Qataris and North Koreans share the same intense respect and love for family. For example we see Pak Hyon Sun is an only child living with her parents and grandparents under the same roof and Kim Song Yun is one of three girls in her family also living with their parents. Similarly, Qatari families have the same values when it comes to loved ones and express the same admiration towards elders. Mother daughter relationships in particular resemble each other in both cultures even in the smallest things, like mothers showing maternal affection and telling you to finish your food or go do your homework.

The mass games require an extreme amount of determination, skill and training especially in a sport as challenging as gymnastics however when compared to Qatar we see how similar that is with soccer in the region. Qatar has assembled a young team of athletes just over a decade before the event in hopes of reaching the impeccable standard it needs to win the world cup in 2022. This includes vigorous training sessions and ongoing will power, very much like what the two girls had to go through to be ready for the mass games.

The music and dancing portrayed in the documentary also shares the same essence as Qatar’s in that it’s very tradition oriented. During celebrations such as the mass games we hear patriotic music played by an orchestra and each dance or performance is telling a story. Qatar also has traditional dances and music originating from Bedouin times, in particular a sword dance called the Ardha, usually performed by men. Qatari music revolves largely around percussion and string instruments such as drums, violins and oud.

Qatar and North Korea are widely different from each other when it comes to most things, there’s no denying that. North Korea is definitely one of the more secretive countries in the world so their way of life might look strange to foreigners, but no matter how different a culture is to the other, there are certain aspects that they all have in common no matter how ethnocentric they are.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Punk Movement

With the appearance of a shaved porcupine and the attitude of a badly behaving Rottweiler, the punk had a major impact on the vanilla attitudes of the British population. It developed as a counter-culture, completely going against the values and norms of the general public; they were the bad boys and girls of the day. Mothers probably made up nasty stories about punks just to keep their children in line.

The punk movement came up as a way to show the world that there were those who simply would not succumb to the folkways and the mainstream scene, be it fashion or music. A typical punk wore torn or recycled clothes that no decent Brit would look at twice, held together crudely with safety pins. Body piercings too were very common.

The punk movement also brought about a genre of music known as punk rock. The music is very aggressive, played with distorted guitars and loud drums. The singer practically screams at the audience. Mostly, punk rockers sing about their ideologies and their views of the world. Some famous punk rock bands are “Sex Pistols”, “Minor Threat” and the American sell-out band “Green Day.”

The punk movement gave rise to various other factions, sort of like a culture within a sub-culture. Goth and Emo are both off-shoots of the punk rock movement. As are “hardcore punk,” and “anarchy punk.”

Punk rock isn’t only isolated to Europe and the Americas. There are punk rockers in the Middle-East as well. Musicians like Rachid Taha are heavily influenced by punk rock. Bands like Mazhott (Damascus), Creative Waste (Saudi Arabia) and Slumpark Correctional (Syria) are also quiet popular in the region.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The link between food and culture

Every country has its traditional food. Like any other country, Qatar has certain types of food that represent the culture of the country. However, some of these types of food originated from other countries and then brought up in Doha. There are a several main dishes shared in Doha and amongst the Gulf countries as well which shows the cultural levelling amongst these countries. The main dish that is cooked in Doha is The Thibeeha, which is known to be a symbol for celebrations or occasions. This dish is composed of rice and herbs with meat. The Thibeeha is a very important aspect of our culture and beliefs, since it is to show respect for the guests. Welcoming a guest in the Qatari society is very important.

As a tradition, Arabic coffee must be served with dates. Dates are also part of the Muslim culture, and the production season of dates usually increases during Ramadan, which is the holy month in Islam. This is due to the reason that when its time to break our fast, we have to have at least one date before starting to eat.

There’s a cultural diffusion in Qatar when it comes to food. Food companies have been brought from all over the world to Doha, providing all types of food available. There is a wider selection where one can choose from. For example: Chinese, Lebanese, Moroccan, Indian, American, French and many other types of food. These range of different types of food allows Qatar to have selections and options for tourists to choose when they visit Qatar for the first time.

There are a few norms

when it comes to eating in Qatar. For example in gatherings, the youngsters should always allow the elders to sit first on the dining table and serve them anything they would request. This shows respect for the eldest. There are certain types of food in Doha that are preferably eaten using the hands. Fish and crabs for example are eaten using the hands. However, not everyone follows this rule but this is how most Qatari citizens eat fish and crabs.

Arabian Horses - A Symbol

Growing up in high school I’ve always pictured culture as the unique traditional dresses and meals every country has. It was an idea that we constructed through the ceremonies we use to do in school such as “International Day”, where each class chooses a country to represent, and dress up in their customs in the next morning. From that sense, culture as a subject of study did not interest me, because at the end of the day, you will always prefer your own culture to others. Yet, from what we learn so far in our sociology class, culture is not just about the beautiful ceremonies and traditions, its about how each society construct a way of life that they then make sense of. If I had to explain it to my little sister, I’ll tell her that culture is the glasses we wear, to see the world around us. I decided to look at my own environment first and analyze my own senses.

There are many objects and animals that as a young Qatari I refer to. Some of these may have a pan-social references, such as the Qatari flag, or the Arabic language, while others are more related to my family and friends. For example, one symbol of pride is the Arabian horse. It is a symbol that is popular in the Islamic and Arabian history, and for many people today still has a great value. Even though for the majority of horse breeders, keeping those animals is a bad business financially, it is still a hobby that I personally attach to, and so do many in the Qatari society. Even at the national level, the government invest hugly in equestrian sports. Al Shaqab for example is an equestrian club located in Education City. It bought and bred in the previous years top Arabian horses such as Udaid Al Shaqab (picture above), and has its own Academy the is open to public to help promote the sport.

Looking closely at the equestrian sport globally, there are many values and norms that surround it. One would be that it is a sport of the elite in society, such as royals and successful businessmen. Due to that, there are expectations to the way you dress and behave. This is especially true in Europe where I noticed emphasize on royalty sense in horse races in England and France. However, the social class attributes to the sport are less noticeable in Qatar, especially in terms of dresses people ware. This can be explained when you look at the dress code of the society. Traditional Qatari Thoub and Qutra are wore by royals and citizens alike, flattening any social hierarchy there is, at least in physical appearance.

Abaya - A Fashion Statement

Butterfly, fold, and jumpsuit are three of the many names given to the designs of the modern Abaya. Originally, it was a cultural garment worn by women in the Middle East to cover up the shape of their body. In fact, women in the past did not have to wear it since most of them covered themselves up modestly. Today, in the Gulf countries in particular, the designs are constantly in change, depending on the trending world of fashion. Rather than having a loose black cloth, it now comes in various shapes and with multiple embroidery designs.

Since the clothing under will not show, girls tend to portray their fashion sense by the Abaya they are wearing. Not only is it a type of material culture that women use to cover up, but it also shapes the social relationships. I remember having a Syrian lady visiting us in Doha. She was shocked by how the Qatari girls wore the Abaya. It was a culture shock to her, as she was used to the plain loose black cloth, and not the multiple designs. However, since the material component is shaped in some way by the non-material culture, she has adapted to this trend as everyone else was following it, and is seen as a sign of modernization.

New designs are out everyday, ranging from very loose to very fit. Those designs come from other countries and act as a cultural diffusion. The neighboring countries influence us. Therefore, when there is an Abaya exhibition such as Heya or a fashion show, young designers from all over the Gulf countries would display their unique designs, and the Qatari girls would buy them. Here are a few abayas I bought from the Saudi section

The young girls here are attracted by each other’s unique Abaya designs. I was ordering popcorn before entering the movie at Villaggio, and I saw this girl wearing an Abaya that attracted my attention. So I went up to her and asked her where she got it tailored. She replied by saying that she had it made in one of the Abaya exhibitions held at Doha Exhibition Centre. I kindly asked her if I could take a picture of the Abaya in order to make the same. Here is how it looked like.

Not only is the influence regional, but is also Western in some way. For example, in one of the exhibitions, I saw a design that had studs on the shoulders, along with others that were “funky”. I kept thinking inside my head that I saw those designs on a dress a star was wearing, and now it is implemented on the Abaya. Lady Gaga acts as a major influence to all those girls that want their Abaya to be extra original. Also, recently young girls have their Abayas tailored in a way that it would look like a jumpsuit from the bottom, which is also influenced by the West. I have also seen girls that deliberately shortened their Abaya, and when I first saw it and asked them why, they would say that they wanted to show their heels off. I completely understand that it is a cultural norm, and those designs just keep getting updated by the day.