A blog about sociology, written by students in Doha, Qatar.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
The Outback in Qatar
I recently found out that an Outback Steakhouse opened up here in Qatar. My parents decided to take us there, having been there during the opening and trying out the food. When I asked, dubiously, if it was any good compared to the franchise in Canada, the first answer I got was "It's in Lagoona!" As if that answered my question, but to them it did. Having recently learned about authenticity and what it means to different people of different social groups and classes, we also learned through Grazian's research that authenticity is linked to location. The next answer I got was "They have the same menu and everything, the food isn't AS good as the one in Canada but almost." So by replying that "It's in Lagoona," and relating it to the experience in Canada in a positive way, it implied that because of the location and the atmosphere it was going to be as authentic an experience as it could get outside of Canada. Grazian's readings also emphasize situational authenticity, which comes when an outsider makes a claim to realness that emphasizes certain characteristics while under-emphasizing others. In this case, the owners of the Middle Eastern franchise have made the claim by blurring certain distinctions, such as the fact that rather than being in North America, where the steakhouse experience is somehow more "authentic," it is in Lagoona, which, being surrounded by the Pearl, Grand Hyatt, the Diplomatic Club, and other hubs of Western cultural activity, represents a chunk of the West transplanted into and shaped by the local experience and context. In addition, although the Steakhouse is American, it is Australian-themed, and in addition to attempting to emulate the authentic "Australian" experience, it is owned by a company called Bloomin' Brands (the word "bloomin'" and its spelling is colloquial Australian), which is also American. However, the company attempts to downplay the fact that it is American by employing colloquial Australian in their language and offering Austrlian food and steaks imported from, you guessed it, Australia.