Monday, September 17, 2012


Mallawal is a new exhibition. It’s taking place at Al-Riwaq, which is the building next to the Museum of Islamic Art. It opened to public on Wednesday the 12th of September. Mallawal means the thing that belongs to the past.
It exhibits collections of various traditional tools and antiques, such as books, jewelry, pictures, cameras, clothes, paintings, and currencies. The collections belong to private owners. There are also paintings by famous and raising young artists. Qatari organizations such as Uchange, T2heel and Tanween helped in organizing it. Ta2heel and Tanween are also giving workshops for children.

What’s really interesting about this exhibition is that it reflects the Qatari culture and how it has changed as a result of globalization. Mallawal brings the past and the future in one place. This exhibition celebrates the cultural heritage from the past until the modern recently created culture.

But how mallawal is Mallawal?
Mallawal is mallawal enough to make people feel nostalgic. If a sociologist visited this exhibition he or she might see it as a combination of the traditional and created material culture. In my Youth Culture in the Middle East class, we learned that culture is the things that are not natural. Everything at the exhibition is made by humans.
At the coffee shop, they offer Bafki Qatar along with Kristal hot souse.

This is what the recent generation, including mine, grew up eating. It is the manufactured snacks in Qatar and the hot souse made in either California or KSA! It was part of the culture that we did not think about as “culture.”

In this picture we see a vintage Pepsi container. The Arabic label localizes them. These global products were part of the Qatari culture in the past. Children and parents in the 70s used to drink those. I believe these bottles were also part of many other cultures around the world and still are with their modern designs.
The effects of globalization are not influencing other cultures only. We are in a time where these global products are considered part of our heritage.

Because of globalization, not only Qataris would relate to these bottles. Visitors from around the world might feel nostalgic, and think to themselves this is mallawal!

At the gift shop people can find batoolas. Batoola is the traditional face cover. It is what females, in the past, used to wear after getting married. Batoolas are one of the most distinctive elements of the old material culture. The effect of globalization let the batoola tradition fade. However, batoolas are still fashionable in other ways. Now they’re bracelets decorated with stones.

The clash between culture and modernity is still present. The artwork by a raising young Qatari Artist, Abdulaziz Yousif, was not shown in its complete form during the opening of the exhibition. The artwork was labeled as “Not suitable to be shown in front of the Emir.” Abdulaziz Yousif does not think his work is offending.

A picture of the completed artwork

The bull’s head was removed during the opening. In ancient Greece artworks’, bulls symbolize power. Of course, this is another country and another era. However, the youth are not sure why is the painting not suitable to their own culture?
Still, this incident raises questions about how far did globalization affect the nonmaterial culture (values and believes)?
The material culture in Qatar was affected by globalization clearly. However, the Qatari nonmaterial culture is not clearly affected by globalization.

A visitor to the exhibition would feel as if he or she is traveling through time. The exhibition starts at rooms filled with old tools, books and stones and ends with contemporary art paintings. It is a celebration of the culture in the past and the future. Visitors can see the effects of globalization on the material culture through time. Still, those who know about the Abdulaziz’s painting would wonder, how did the nonmaterial change too? Unfortunately, the nonmaterial culture is hard to exhibit!

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