Friday, April 12, 2013

Wajda by Haifa Al Mansour

For this active blog post I went to the Museum of Islamic art to attend the movie wajda, which was directed by Haifa Al Mansour, the first Saudi women to direct a movie. The movie discuses the issue of women’s right in Middle East in general and Saudi Arabia specifically. It portrays the life of wajda, a young girl who always dreamt of riding a bike, but the fact that it is not accepted by her society made it difficult to make her dream come true. It was surprising for me to know that women in Saudi Arabia before two weeks ago they where not allowed to ride a bike! And they only allowed them to rid bikes two weeks ago but with restrictions such as they can only ride bikes in parks and recreational areas, and they have to be accompanied by a male relative!

The movie is an example of neo-feminism because it talks about personal choice, and how wajda is fighting so hard to make her dream come true. This movie though it talks about an issue that is only in Saudi Arabia (bike and cars) but it discusses the issue of women’s right in middle east, yet not a lot of women were interested to come and watch. Before going there I expected to see more Qatari specially women attending such movie! However, there was about 12 Qatari attended this movie. The way she discusses the problem of women driving and girls riding bikes is by show the society’s attitude toward the problem.

When looking at the problem it is not only men to be blamed but also women!
I was wondering why women were not present in this movie! Most women in Middle East don’t appreciate women who fight for their rights! Is it the society that restricts them not to fight for their rights or is it that they are really happy with their lives and what they have? Why they are so reluctant to fight for their rights?

Women in Middle East care a lot about their reputation and their families’ reputation. Thus, they do what’s allowed and appreciated by the society. The pressures they face from the society around them force them to obey and conform. So, it is not usual to see women present in such places. It is not that they are not interested but they do what is expected from them.

After the movie there was a discussion with Haifa Al Mansour, the director, she talked about what inspired her to write it, and the difficulties she faced directing it. One of them was that she could not be on the street when they were shooting out doors, she had to stay in a van and talk to them through the phone. There is no rule that restricted Haifa not to be on the street when they were shooting but the fact that the society will not appreciate it she stayed at the van. from my opinion, women's right in Middle East countries need women's voice, determination.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Arab Feminism Wave

My parents are dentists (scary, I know). When I asked them once how much they make and they told me, I realized that my mom makes a little bit less money than my dad. When I asked her about the reason as to why they give my dad more money, she said, it’s because your dad is the man of the house and in this culture he is the one who is supposed to take care of the family, so they give him more money for household expenses.

This conversation happened when I was a child, but I still do remember how shocking it was for me because all I thought about then was how unfair it would be for me when I grow up and decide to be the woman of my own house, no man involved. Would they give me more money? Aren’t I the breadwinner too?

Certainly, things in Qatar have changed (not the salary thing though, it’s still intact in the government sectors) but women are still thriving for better chances of equality and fairness. Most of the mothers I know are prime examples for the second shift. The second shift is the jobs that working wives do to run the household after they finish the workday. They all deserve that extra money since they contribute to the household… like a lot!

Anyways, more and more young women are becoming quite the neo-feminists. Neo- Feminism does not have a social agenda; it emphasizes personal fulfillment above all else. Young women focus on their education and jobs, not for the purpose of supporting a family or building one, but for their own personal wants and needs. It’s the concept of “Spending my money on myself.” That’s why you see a lot of girls in Education City and a lot of them with designer shoes.

Shopping is a big thing for girls here. Not for me though, I really hate shopping (I’m more of the amusement parks kind of person). Consumer culture is pretty popular here and the fancy malls we have aren’t helping. All adds for all sorts of products try to target these neoliberal women and tell them, “hey, you work hard, you deserve this” or “You want to be different and brand new, then you gotta do this.”

Like seriously, nobody is benefiting more from feminism than big corporations. Despite the fact that I’m a feminist, I’m a little bit tad suspicious about all those chick flick movies and “be the independent women” kind of messages that circulate in media. Because, is it just me, or the more feminist you are, the more shopping you gotta do and the more sexualized you otta be. No, thank you, sir. This Dove short film really got me thinking about this:

Perhaps we should be careful with those who claim to be supporting us when all they really are doing is milking our money and altering our perception of ourselves.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Who are FEMEN anyway?

The phenomenon of protesting naked took over the media in the past year. Women who consider themselves free go out in the streets topless to introduce their issues and to bring attention to them. These women are not asking for women right as much as they are asking for their “own” rights. This Neo-Feminist movement started by a group that was founded in 2008 called FEMEN. Their first topless protest was against sex tourists. The FEMEN group started appearing on the media as something wrong, but it inspired other women to defend their own rights. My example here is Alia Al-Mahdi who is an Egyptian girl, and she was the first Egyptian girl to do a topless protest.
Since Egypt is now ruled by Mohamed Morsi - an ex-member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood - , it is not surprising that there are people who are against the Islamic System. While Al-Mahdi was in Europe, Al-Mahdi and her friends went to the Egyptian embassy in Sweden topless holding signs that says “NO to Sharia Constitution”. This a message of a FEMEN Arab about “her” rights for not wearing hijab, and getting her own freedom. Al-Mahdi caused a huge argument among the Arab countries, especially Egypt, with the proposals of some Egyptians to not consider Al-Mahdi an Egyptian after what she did. This new FEMEN move by Arab women are called the "topless jihad".
In Islam, the women rights are equaled with men, but to an extent. For some of the conservative countries such as Saudia Arabia, Women are not allowed to drive or work a decent job. Two days ago, the first Saudi women attorney/activist was registered. This woman did not go out and did a topless protest. From my perspective, it is not freedom if you just take off your clothes. Women who take off their clothes are indicated as prostitutes no matter what their needs/wants were. There is always a way to convey your message to the community.
In my opinion, in the sociology, the three waves of feminism were nothing but a start for what we are seeing these days; women using nudity to ask for their rights. Women should have the rights to work as long as it does not conflict with any religious context (no matter what was their religion). Also it is not the women rights to use nudity and disturb people to get what they want.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Fashion & feminism

Every chick flick movie is entitled to at least one montage sequence that shows the protagonist going through a “makeover” that usually consists of extensive shopping and beauty treatments. Everyone goes shopping, whether male of female but it’s known universally that women shop for fun, and sometimes, they consider shopping a stress reliever.

So what is it that makes women enjoy shopping? Is it the pleasure of buying clothes that will change how we look? Or is it the pleasure of just spending money? If you ask me, for a long time ago, shopping has turned from a process of attaining essential needs to a process that reinforces what Hilary Rander calls in her book, autonomous individualism. In her book Neo-Feminist Cinema, Rander attributes the autonomous individual to the woman who apprehends her pleasure for herself and whose health can be measured by the body’s capacity to experience itself as pleasurable. So shopping is now a way of proving one’s independence.

So, Do the female representations in media effect our own perception of power and being a feminist? Well, being surrounded, or suffocated, by the media that advocates for consumerism played a role in turning most women into neo-feminists. According to Rander, Neo-feminism means, “control over one’s body/face/self, accomplished through the right acquisitions can maximize one’s value at both work and home.” Although we might not be aware of it, we shop for the pleasure of having the power to choose what we want and how we look.

Although being a shopaholic in some way contradicts with one of many things that feminism stands for, that is liberating women from being sexualized in media, it seems that Neo-feminism has changed this view. Neo-feminism encourages consumerism and individualism, while on the other hand; feminism had always advocated for female solidarity and independence. So it is still possible to be a feminist and a shopaholic

Displays of Gender-Specific Behavior in a Family Gathering

      While visiting my hometown over the weekend, I had to attend a family gathering. Unlike our normal family gatherings that occur every weekend (which include only around ten immediate family members), this gathering included three of my grandmother's first cousins once removed, my half-great uncle's children and their children, and other relatives I could not even name. Needless to say, it was a large number of invitees–– so large that the dining table did not fit.

The dining table that only fit the fifteen seniors of the family

      Common perceptions of Saudi Arabian family gatherings would immediately hold the assumption that they are gender segregated. That is not the case with all gatherings, as it differs between families, and it is definitely not the case with this gathering. Fortunately, due to this lack of segregation, I was able to observe displays of both male and female "power" in this gathering.

What was not the case in my family's gathering.

      Males in the gathering sat down for the majority of the gathering's duration. They spoke of serious matters. Whenever a topic would become increasingly grim or sensitive, a man would typically immediately change the subject by the means of comedy, such as ridiculing the issue at hand in a light-hearted manner or cracking a random joke. As predicted, the only time the men got up was when the lamb (the main meal of the gathering) was ready to be served. For readers unfamiliar with Arab cuisine, the lamb was served whole––head, limbs, and so on. Three men had to carry the lamb to the table, an act that can easily be considered a public display of masculine power by many.

       Most of the females in the gathering never actually sat down. They would task themselves with helping the maids set up the table and serving juices and dates to the guests. Those who sat down engaged in typically female conversations. Mothers discussed schools and children, while younger females discussed recent restaurant openings and the latest trends. Eventually, more serious social topics were discussed, such as the recent changes in the sponsorship system in the country. As one may expect, though, this topic was only discussed by the women as soon as a man initiated the topic and then involved the women in the discussion. This is no way indicative of a lack of intellect on the women's part, certainly not from a sociological perspective. This is merely indicative of what topics seem to be socially acceptable for women to discuss amongst themselves, even if the women are well-informed of social matters such as the Saudi Arabian sponsorship system (a system that is also implemented by the country's GCC neighbor Qatar).

      Interestingly enough, a strange manifestation of segregation was also noted. While the gathering was strictly not gender segregated, the majority of the invitees had the tendency to isolate themselves by gender anyway. Younger females, including myself, sat in a further, more isolated part of the room. It was isolated enough that we could not see the other side of the room but still hear the rest of our family converse. The men and older women, such as mothers and grandmothers, were seated in the main, larger section of the room. Nevertheless, they, too, somewhat divided themselves by gender. Some women sat with the men and some men sat with the women. I found that it all depended on the topic that was being discussed at the time, and was not due to any particular social discomfort with the other gender. The same could be said about the way I was seated with my younger female relatives. We probably only chose to be isolated because we wanted the freedom of discussing our lives abroad as international university students.

      Despite changing times, displays of both masculine and feminine behavior remain the same. The same concept also applies to expectations of masculine and feminine behavior, and everyone acts accordingly to avoid social "punishment". Despite the fact that at some points during the gathering, I felt that I did not want to discuss food and fashion, I felt that I had no other choice...somewhat. While I could have initiated a serious topic with both the males and the females in the family, my attempts would have been dismissed most likely due to my young age and gender. While that is in no way a sure determinant of intelligence, and while everyone in the gathering most likely believed that, society constructed it otherwise. In such a large setting, everyone feels that it is safer to stick to the boundaries set by social norms. I am almost certain of that because I know that in our smaller weekly gatherings that only include my immediate relatives, I can more confidently discuss serious matters and I would be taken seriously. Despite the fact that all of my immediate family members were present, that same confidence was not present due to the socially sensitive situation we were placed in due to the large number of family members, all with differing ages and, of course, genders.

Gender and the Night Scene in Qatar

Public partying in Qatar is a subculture of its own. Partying for locals of Doha is only available for males, and even at that it’s very hushed. What I mean by public partying is, for example, going to a concert and/or going to a club. What I mean by subculture is a group of people who form their own culture within the larger culture.
In Doha, males form their own culture for partying by excluding the females. For this post, I did a case study based on Sean Paul’s concert on the 29th of March, a Friday. My plan originally was to go with two Qatari friends, a male and a female, a Sudanese girl, and an American/Egyptian girl, my sister. When we got there we were all able to get in except the Qatari female. We talked to the security, and they said that Qatari females aren't allowed there. When I asked why, they avoided my question by saying it’s the rules. Both the Qatari male and female left the concert. I decided to ask more about it and figured that Qatari females aren’t allowed to clubs or any place that might serve alcohol. 
When thinking about it, one would figure that this is the norm here because it’s an Arab, religious country. However, this poses the question of why are the males allowed to “party” publicly and the females are not? When I asked a Qatari female about this, she said –rather sarcastically- “People are afraid that girls would drink and do stupid stuff like get themselves pregnant. For guys there’s no evidence, except a bad hangover. It’s culturally accepted for guys although it’s frowned upon.”
I like thinking of myself as feminist, very pro women’s rights. As described in class, the feminism social movements aim at “establishing and defining equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women.” Although, I’m not attempting to discuss the idea of Qatari women consuming alcohol, I’m discussing the fact that they aren't allowed to get into a public space because of alcohol’s presence, something that doesn't hinder a Qatari male’s life. Doesn't seem very equal, does it?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Loujain Hathlool: A Saudi Girl in Canada

One of the stereotypes of the Arabic countries is that women are covered from head to toe including their faces and eyes. This is because of Islam’s role in Saudi Arabia that plays a huge role on this behavior alongside with the culture and traditions that women should be covered up.

Globalization has not affected people in Saudi Arabia, and still many women are still covering up from head to toe including their faces. However, there are many Saudis that have adapted the western cultures and traditions and forgot their own. Loujain Hathlool is a good example of a girl standing up against the Saudi traditions and wants to live her life the way she is.

Loujain Hathlool, was born in 1989 and is probably the most negatively sanctioned girl in Saudi Arabia. She is a French Literature major student in British Columbia University, in Canada. She became popular on the social network “Keek” which is a social network where people have to upload videos that are 36 seconds or less to their feed.

Loujain is considered a deviant by most men in Saudi Arabia. Men are afraid that she is ruining the Saudi reputation of discipline. She receives negative comments from men from all the Gulf countries because she shoots videos of herself without wearing a hijab or abaya. Loujain however, keeps commenting about these comments and makes fun of them in her videos and laughs at them.

I believe that Loujain is a symbol of a neo-feminist woman, or an example of a modern woman that believes that women should be independent and less controlled by men in the society. To add to that, Loujain is also the head of the Arab Student Association in her campus which is clearly an indicator that she is respected and accepted as a leader.

I personally think Loujain is nice from her videos, even though I am against that she threw away her traditions, but others misinterpreted her and argue that she is ignorant and a rude woman that is just proud of doing the wrong thing.

Loujain is popular by the issues she brings up in her videos. She discussed certain important issues like Democracy USA Vs. KSA (arguing with USA of course), and sexual harassment in USA Vs. KSA, and other sensitive political topics too. She always argues with the USA and North America and that they are developed and open minded not like the closed minds of those in KSA. In this video: Loujain talks about a rumor that people spread that she was born in India. She encouters that by saying that she wishes she was born Indian, because they have democracy, freedom, ducation, culture, everything a woman wishes for. And, quote from her "I wish we can have at least 25% percent of the good things they have". In this video she clearly speaks negatively about KSA, which is what made the people furious about her.


Arguing with/aganist Loujain
Loujain: The Girl most discussed in Saudi Arabia

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Neoliberalism & The Danger it Poses to Society

In class this week, we analyzed the terms neo-feminism and neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism is defined as a political philosophy that advocates support for free trade and open markets and increasing the role of private sector in a modern society. 

On December 14th of last year, a man went on a killing spree in Newtown, killing 26 people, including 20 children. For an article on The Week, Neil Clark explains that there will be more examples of killing sprees, such as the one in Newtown and in Britain recently due to the fast-paced changes in a neo-liberal United Kingdom. “The answer is that we've Americanised our economy, and consequently are paying a very high social cost.”

Henry Giroux, author of “Youth and the Politics of Disposability in Dark Times” argued in a recent article that the rise of financial meltdown presents a problem for the youth. Giroux defines neoliberalism as; “the latest stage of predatory capitalism [and a] part of a broader project of restoring class power and consolidating the rapid concentration of capital.”

One of the important questions to ask when considering commercial films, national culture and its relationship with neo-liberalism is if there are any benefits. One of them can be the film industry in Argentina. The country’s government is characterized by neo-liberal economic reform that which has benefited greatly for its film industry. “The film industry in Argentina has witnessed a recent `boom' in commercial blockbuster movies that is bringing audiences back to see national films. These high budget productions are produced in part by large television channels that are utilizing state subsidies for these projects. While this translates into healthy growth for the film industry, it is transforming the character of national film production from a cultural project to a commercial product.” (Media, Culture & Society)

On the other hand, it seems to defeat the purpose of neoliberalism if the government benefits. In an article in The Guardian entitled: “Our economic ruin means freedom for the super-rich”, George Monbiot explains:  “Neoliberals claim that we are best served by maximising market freedom and minimising the role of the state. The free market, left to its own devices, will deliver efficiency, choice and prosperity.” Therefore, the role of the government should not be so influential in the industry as private enterprises.

I think it's important to note that the private sector, especially in concerns to films is very influential. Apart from the economy, it's also important to note that neo-liberalism has seeped into films and education.

Picture Credit

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Miss Congeniality

Miss Congeniality is an American police comedy film, starring the beautiful Sandra Bullock. This movie can be considered as one of the girly movies, and it includes the ten common traits of the girly films that we learned in sociology class.

Define Gracie Hart
Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) is FBI agent shows no signs of having any femininity in her behavior or appearance. Her appearance is a crucial aspect of her identity. She has the feeling of ambivalence about the role of romance, marriage and work in woman’s life. Thus, Gracie can be defined as the protagonist, because she is a single woman who works for a living, and whose work defines her.
Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt), is Gracie’s colleague whose assigned to lead the high profile case of a terrorist called “The Citizen” instead of her to stop the attack. Both of them determine that “The Citizen” 's next target will be the Miss United States beauty pageant. Eric assigns her to go undercover as a pageant contestant to see if she can catch “The Citizen”. This movie takes place in a large, well-known city, which is San Antonio, Texas; where the beauty contest takes place.

The Transformation
The FBI used the assistance of the previous pageant contestant coach Victor Melling (Michael Caine), to do the impossible task of transforming Gracie, not only into a woman, but into a credible beauty pageant contestant. Victor represents the consumer culture, in which everything goes right with him. There is a theme of personal transformation, as she becomes beautiful and attractive. Gracie enters the contest as Miss New Jersey. She suits the example of the Miss United States beauty pageant. She had the ability to transform which helps her lead to resolve her conflicts and to achieve her goals.

The Past.
Gracie has difficult time to proceed in the transformation. Victor continues to teach the tomboyish Gracie how to dress, walk and act like a contestant. She is not used to such behaviors. She has the sense of nostalgia or glorifying the past during the contest when she demonstrates self-defense techniques during the talent competition. She has the hard times when she can’t continue in this undercover job. She thinks she doesn’t belong to this place.

The Happy Ending
Gracie gets to know the other contestants. Then, she discovers the evil element is present at the pageant. She will do whatever it takes to crush that element and protect her new friends, namely the other innocent contestants.
Gracie displays some femininity during the movie. She begins to have more womanly feelings and that attracts the attention of men, in particular, she starts to attract Eric.
When Eric fails to support Gracie, he then realizes that Gracie’s suspicions are correct, and he returns to help her. Gracie surprises everyone, including herself by discovering “The Citizen”. She and Eric save the day, and they arrest the criminals. At the end, Eric admits his crush on her, and she starts a relationship with Matthews. She finally lead succeeds in her goal of having affair with the man of her choice.

Neo-Feminism at Luxos Fashion Show

On March 26, 2013, I went to a fashion show titled “Luxos Fashion Show” at the St. Regis Hotel in Qatar. The event was organized by Design Creationz, which is a company that helps new designers in the Middle East to showcase their fashion lines. Three Brazilian/American women (Cricely Demenjon, Michelle Demenjon, Polie Campitelli) happen to be the co-founders of the company, Design Creationz. These three women have come together to create a social change that will give Qatari women as well as women in the Arab region the opportunity to attend a spectacular fashion show, brought to them from different Middle Eastern designers. There were fashion designers from Qatar, Bahrain, Morocco, and Lebanon. We learned in this week’s class the term “neo-feminism.” The author of the book “Neo-Feminist Cinema, Hilary Rander,” defines “neo-feminism” by personal choice, sexuality, fashion, and consumption. The models at the fashion show for example made the choice of being models to help the designers promote their fashion lines. Rander also says that the word ‘neo-feminism’ is used “To refer to the tendency in feminine culture to evoke choice and the development of individual agency as the defining tenets of feminine identity–best realized through an engagement with consumer culture in which the woman is encouraged to achieve self-fulfilment by purchasing, adoring or surrounding herself with the good that this culture can offer,” (Rander, 6). Another point to talk about is the fact that some women have an excessive need to shop, and they always want to be up with the latest fashion trends. It’s considered a neo-feminist thing because it’s associated with consumer culture as well. The fashion show will add a positive impact to women’s fashion in the Middle East. The fashion designers had the chance to showcase their work, and the attendees were introduced to the latest fashion trends (Abaya and dresses). The models looked very chic and elegant. The models’ gestures were very feminine. “Women are expected to perform a femininity that exudes beauty, caring, nurturance, neediness, and compassion, complete with every range of possible emotion,” (Cinematic Sociology, 132). Below are some short videos of Luxos Fashion Show that I’d like to share with you.

Luxos Fashion Show 1 from Muneera Al-Buainain on Vimeo.

Luxos Fashion Show 2 from Muneera Al-Buainain on Vimeo.

Luxos Fashion Show 3 from Muneera Al-Buainain on Vimeo.

In case you’re wondering what Luxos means, it means luxury in Portuguese.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Masculine And Feminine Sports

Our society has designed us to embrace, believe and fulfill certain gender roles and stereotypes that are conventional and have been around for years. Women in the past were not expected nor encouraged to participate in sports. However, the times have changed and with more women breaking stereotypes and playing a huge role in sports, they are receiving greater support than ever.

Yet, there is a major issue at stake that seems impossible to change, people still confuse gender non-conformity with sexual orientation. Gender non-conformity basically means appearing and acting in ways that are considered unusual to that particular gender. For example, women in the past were expected to dress in a certain way that emphasizes their femininity whereas now, women are comfortable wearing pants, blazers, ties and flat shoes.

In men’s case, it’s completely different. Men are expected to be masculine at all times. In fact, most men will be harassed and called names for not being or looking masculine enough. This is the reason behind men preferring masculine sports while women have more freedom when it comes to picking their desired sport. When I say freedom, I don’t mean family’s encouragement and approval, I’m talking about how the society looks at them hence masculine females are more tolerated than “feminine men”. I repeat, feminine and NOT gay men. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE. I wanted to show how the opinion of two different men who play masculine sports could be interrelated yet so contradictory. I interviewed the first man, Ali, who does boxing for fun who was against women being a part of masculine sports. The second interviewee was Hamad, who does horseback riding for fun too. Hamad believed that horseback riding is a masculine sport due to family morals and beliefs yet he sees absolutely no reason why women should not go for masculine sports.

I made two videos for each interviewee, and Ali was kind enough to invite us to his regular workout

Hamad was also kind enough to work on such short notice as you can tell; he was wearing his thobe (traditional white garment for men)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Conspicuous Consumption in Katara

For this active blog, I went on a short trip to the cultural village we all know as Katara. Perhaps the most intriguing question one could ask regarding Katara is the following: Why is Katara considered one of the most popular places to hang out in Doha? This is the question I was bent on answering during my visit.

I drove over to what is probably the most well-known karak shop in Doha, Karak and Chapatti, which is approximately at the center of Katara. It is approximately at the Karak shop where you can pay 15 QR to have value parking, which people use if they cannot find any available parks or perhaps as a public display of wealth. As I was waiting for my order of sweet Chapattis and Karak, which costs around QR 7, over double the typical market price. I looked around me at the groups of people in their cars, some of whom were waiting for their orders just as I was, and others who were enjoying their freshly made Chapattis. What caught my attention immediately was that a large proportion of the total cars around had special plate numbers, and everyone knows that plate numbers are a big thing right now in Doha. A 4-digit plate number could easily sell for QR 100,000(equivalent to USD 36,500). I parked my car and went deeper inside the cultural village. Some of the restaurants that are available include Sukkar Basha, a fancy Lebanese restaurant, Saffron, an exquisite Indian restaurant, and El Wzaar, my all-time favorite seafood restaurant. All restaurants mentioned previously, including the ones that weren’t, are known to be luxurious dine-ins that offer top-notch service and mouth-watering cuisine.

At one end of Katara are the Shawarma and Kenaafa serving restaurants. Although I have never tried the Shawarma they have to offer, I did buy some a couple of times. One shawarma sandwich costs QR 15, which is about triple the price it is offered for in typical shawarma restaurants. Personally, I am not against buying a relatively expensive sandwich, but I do not think that it would taste significantly better than any other shawarma in the market.

To conclude, my observations during my visit to the cultural village known as Katara signal that the majority of what is displayed in Katara, which ranges from people in fancy cars with fancy plate numbers, to luxurious restaurants and priced-up snacks, is conspicuous consumption at its extremes. According to Wikipedia, conspicuous consumption is known as the “spending of money for and the acquiring of luxury goods and services to display economic power.” I am not saying that this behavior is necessarily a bad thing, I am merely acknowledging its natural existence in us as human beings who place emphasis on powerful appearance, and who take delight in enjoying the luxurious commodities life has to offer.