Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sealine Desert in Qatar

Over the past few weeks, I frequently visited Sealine, the desert area outside Doha, and spent time at my friend’s camp. This active blog will attempt to highlight the cultural norms, values, lifestyle, and activities of interest of those in Sealine.  

Although it is located just 50-60km from Doha (with the last 5-10km being on sandy roads), the lifestyle of those that frequently camp there is noticeably different from those living in the big city. Life is very simple, and sometimes all you need to cheer you up is a cup of tea coupled with a random say-whatever’s-on-your-mind conversation with a group of friends seated around a warm fire that prevents the winter’s icy breeze from getting through your bones.Some of the activities people perform for entertainment purposes include the extremely popular cards game known as Barazeleyya (Brazilian), barbequing, showing off by driving up over steep sand dunes with your SUV, and then there's the occasional weirdo that drives on top of the sand dunes to willingly get his car stuck in the soft sand, just so he can learn how to get it out of there. 

Almost every time I’m there, someone makes us one of those killer Arab dishes, such as Chicken Machboos (Rice served with chicken) or Prawn Biryani (Rice with prawns). Add to that the fact that on those days it was about 15 degrees Celsius (which is equivalent to -10 C for people not living in scorching deserts), and you can’t help but eat like there’s tomorrow. It’s somewhat unexpected of a male Qatari to be able to produce such a delicious and moderately difficult-to-make meal. This is because in our culture, women hold the “traditional” family role as homemakers, as they are expected to be able to cook well, at least up until the last century.  However, I believe that being able to make such a meal can really come in handy sometimes, especially when you are in the desert with twenty starving young men. Maybe that is part of the reason why I suddenly took a lot of interest into being able to replicate such a fine meal that can simultaneously feed a large group of people.

Whenever I visit, there are usually at least about fifteen young men, most of whom I barely know on a personal level. This barrier between us requires social interaction on our behalf, resulting in the development and adaptation of our identities for "strategic purposes". 

After having been to Sealine several times, I haven’t seen a single Qatari female camp present in Sealine, or any female camp for that matter. This speaks to the gender issue in Qatar and the Gulf Area in general, where there are only about a thousand rules women are expected to abide by. I am not saying I’m against these social norms, I am simply acknowledging their existence in our society.

1 comment:

  1. As a matter of fact, there are some female camps. Those however are located further away from the people, and usually surrounded by their families. Families tend to prefer camping in AlShmal (north of Qatar) because the place there is safer than sealine.


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