Intercultural studies: qatar

Intercultural Studies: Qatar. Qatari Flag Source: http www. olstars. com/en/flag/Qatar Introduction Qatar is a small country, on a peninsula north of Saudi Arabia (National Geographic website), with allies in the gulf region (Kabasal and Dastalmachian, 2001, pp. 480-481). This assignment examines the culture of Qatar, its predominant ideology, and hegemony, identity, language and semiotics. Gender and postcolonialism are also considered.
Most of the inhabitants of Qatar are of Arabic origin, and the main ideology, or system of beliefs is the Sunni Muslim faith. (Chaddock, 2006, p. 68) This is expressed in what people eat, for example all meat has to be prepared in accordance with Islamic laws, in their clothing, and in the religious practices of prayer, fasting and study of the Koran. (Qatar. living website)
The official hegemony, or system of power over other people, in Qatar is a monarchy. (Constitution of Qatar) The government is similar to traditional tribal leadership, with a hereditary Emir at the top. This rests on an ancient pattern of centralist government dating from some 4, 000 years ago. (Hofstede, 1980, p. 117) The system is not democratic and there are no elections. The opinions of the people are gathered in an advisory parliament but the real power lies with the Emir.
The concept of identity can be defined as the way someone is, or is recognisable. Qatari identity is based on nomadic Arab culture. Hospitality is a very important value, especially in desert territories. Modern Qatar has a successful tourist industry with its own airline company bringing passengers from over 100 destinations worldwide. (qatarairways website). Qatar has a history of threats from larger powers and so has defensive forts such as Al-Zubara Fort, Doha Fort, etc. (Qatarembassy: Museums). In the cities the population contains many immigrant workers who have a greater diversity of identity. Citizens of Qatari origin, are in a minority but enjoy a higher status than immigrant workers. Kabasakal, H. and Dastmalchian, A. 2001)
Language is the main method of human communication. Standard Arabic is the official language of Qatar, and Farsi is spoken by a minority. English is widely spoken, especially in the larger urban areas. There are further languages spoken by immigrant workers including Malayaam, Tamil, Urdu. Ethnologue Website)
Semiotics is the system of signs which people use to convey meaning. Qatar provides the home base and considerable funding for the Arabic news organization Al Jazeera. (Miles, 2006). This is big part of the image and meaning that Qatar presents to the world. (Petersen, 2006 ), since “ the rise and expansion of Al Jazeera are a huge part of the emir’s global ambition for Qatar” (Irvine, 2011) This news network acts as a bridge between the Arab world, and has become “ arguably the most important non-state actor in the Middle East today” (Zayani and Sahroui, 2003, p. 23).
Gender is a socially constructed role that a person takes. As in most Islamic societies, men and women have equal rights in theory but women face some restrictions in practice. (The Peninsula, 2010) Industries are often divided between those for men (like shipbuilding and pearl hunting) and those for women (like weaving and embroidery), although some family crafts can be done by both (like goldsmithing and jewelry making). (Qatarembassy website: Heritage)
Postcolonialism refers to the situation that countries have after they have become independent from a colonial power. Qatar used to be a British protectorate. It depends on immigrant workers, and on the oil industry (Crystal, 1990) but in the postcolonial age Qatar is beginning training up its own workforce, using “ localization” to create more jobs for Qataris (Mellahi, K. and Al-Hinai, S. M. 2000, p. 177). The country is not strong enough to guarantee its own protection (Cordesman 1988, 2007) and so it made a Defense Cooperation treaty with the United States in 1992 (Qatar embassy website, foreign policy).
Qatar is a country with a rich history and a cultural reach far beyond its immediate area. There are some challenges in terms of ensuring a stable and prosperous future for all of its citizens, and in ironing out some of the gender and ethnic inequalities that exist at the present time. It has maintained its independence in a region that has often been at the centre of political and military strife. Despite its conservative government style and religious heritage, Qatar has many forward-looking qualities and its combination of tradition and modernity will ensure that it remains a leading voice in Arab culture in the future.
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