Browsing 'Culture' News

Qatar University/Facebook

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Hundreds of Qatar University students and community members have been debating gender segregation in school and society this week.

The discussion was sparked by a woman who was recently elected to the student union of QU’s College of Sharia and Islamic Studies, but then objected about the meetings being mixed.

Last month, Mariam Al-Dosari began complaining that the union was not accommodating her request to attend the meetings via video conference, so that she wouldn’t have to meet with male students face-to-face.

Translation: It is really strange that the student council meetings are gender-mixed as it contradicts Qatar University’s segregation policy in classes.

A few weeks later, in early March, Al-Dosari began complaining that her requests were not being met.

Hashtag debate

This led to the creation of a now-viral hashtag on Twitter, كلنا_مريم_الدوسري# (We are all Mariam Al-Dosari).

Many people who engaged in the debate said they sympathized with Al-Dosari’s plight, saying her request should have been honored.

Others saw the issue as an attempt to westernize Qatar in a way that goes against the country’s traditions and values.

Translation: I pity those who reduce this issue to make it only about Mariam. It simply isn’t. It’s a matter of principle; an issue pertaining to the chaste women of Qatar and the values virtue and modesty they were brought up with. Sooner or later the truth will prevail.

Translation: She lives in her home country and has a right to an education that suits her traditions and values.

Translation: Instead of teaching students freedom of expression and democracy a student is being punished by being expelled from the student council and then to add insult to injury, she gets yelled at as if expulsion isn’t enough.

Counterpoints

But many others said it was unreasonable to always expect things to be segregated by gender.

Some critics pointed out that Al-Dosari knew the format of the meetings before she became a representative.

And a few said students are capable of meeting each other in mixed company without anything untoward happening.

Translation: What kind of empowerment and enablement are you searching for and wishing to achieve in the future when you already refuse to attend official public meetings?

Translation: The seatings at the meetings are divided, the front rows are for female students and the back ones for males or the other way around. They don’t even sit next to each other.

Qatar University has not officially weighed in on the discussion, nor has the student union.

On Twitter, some have suggested that Al-Dosari is no longer on the student council, but she has not confirmed this.

A better future

For some, the debate raises a larger question about men and women’s interaction in society.

In an opinion piece this week, QU alum Shabeb Al Rumaihi pointed out that many of his university’s annual events, conferences and movie screenings were not segregated affairs.

Qatar University

Qatar University

“You can not bring a head of state or an international actor to give two separate lectures,” he said.

He added that he didn’t feel mixed events threatened Qatar’s cultural values, and that this helps facilitate female leadership.

“I see it as an opportunity to innovate a new cultural platform that believes in developing a society that needs men and women working together to develop a better future for Qatar.”

He concluded by pointing that during his undergraduate years, there were three female college deans at QU. Now, there’s only one.

Thoughts?

Brian Candy

Bryan Adams concert

Dozens of concert-goers in Qatar are complaining about discrimination after being turned away from a Bryan Adams concert last night.

Several women wearing headscarves, along with their spouses, friends and relatives, said security barred them at the entrance to the Grand Hyatt Doha’s beachside venue before the show started.

Alcohol was being sold at the sold-out concert, and usually in Qatar, women wearing headscarves or national dress are not permitted into bars that serve spirits.

However, many people said they were surprised to learn of the restriction, as it had not been mentioned when they bought their concert tickets.

Other attendees said they were confused because several hijabis were allowed into the venue, suggesting the policy was unevenly enforced.

See more reaction here.

‘Humiliated’

Speaking to Doha News, Iram Kassis, a 44-year-old Tunisian expat, said a guard asked her and her sister to get out of the line for the concert because her sister wore a headscarf.

1 minute to show time #Doha #bryanadamsgetup

A post shared by Bryan Adams (@bryanadams) on

“We have been shocked by that and asked to meet with a responsible person to clarify this issue, especially (since) it was not mentioned in the terms and conditions of the website (when we) purchased the tickets.”

She added that she noticed several other families waiting around after having the same issue.

“We have been humiliated and there was no respect from the hotel people. I am not against the law in the country if it is forbidden to attend such an event, but the issue is with the organizing people and their disrespect of human beings.”

The Grand Hyatt declined to comment to Doha News about whether its venue has a no-headscarf policy. It referred questions to concert organizers instead.

Refunds

Another concert-goer said she was turned away because of her scarf, and her friend was also asked to leave “by association.”

“I was condescendingly told at the gate, ‘take off your veil/scarf, or go back,” said the American expat, who asked not to be named.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

She added that at one point, 40-50 people women stood with “husbands, brothers, coworkers and longtime friends” outside the venue.

After about three hours, as event organizers and security locked arms to keep them out, and a group of people shouting “let us in,” their tickets were refunded, she said, adding:

“I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Meanwhile, Kassis said didn’t want a refund.

“It’s about transparency” and letting people know they are not welcome beforehand, she said.

She added that she has filed a complaint to the Qatar Tourism Authority, which oversees the country’s hospitality sector.

Past incidents

Organizers Alive Entertainment have not responded to a request for comment.

But this is not the first time women have been barred from entering places in Qatar because of their attire.

Victoria Scott

Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha

For example, Qatari women previously expressed anger at not being allowed to enjoy performances at the now-defunct Jazz at Lincoln Center at the St. Regis Doha.

This was because, as per Qatari law, people in national dress are not allowed in venues that serve alcohol.

And in 2013, locals called for a boycott of comedian Russell Peters’ show after organizers said people in national dress would not be permitted entry.

They later backtracked on the prohibition, calling it a “misprint” on the ticket.

In any case, many have criticized such policies as discrimination.

Speaking to Doha News, the American expat banned from last night’s concert said:

“We were told by Qatari police that it’s Qatar law that veiled women are not allowed in places/venues that serve alcohol.

This limits the rights of a Muslim women but not the Muslim man. The choice to wear a veil should not hinder someone from entrance.”

Thoughts?

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Residents who wish to perform Hajj this year from Qatar can apply for visas online starting tomorrow, government officials have announced.

The pilgrimage, which a Muslim is required to perform at least once in his or her lifetime, will take place at the end of August and beginning of September.

The registration process launches online here at 8:30am tomorrow.

It runs until 11:59pm on March 30, the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs (Awqaf) said this week.

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

Pilgrims at Mt. Arafah during Hajj

Each year, people are chosen through an electronic drawing and informed via text message.

Last year, some 18,400 people in Qatar applied for 1,200 spots. Of those, 900 were reserved for nationals.

However, that might change. Saudi Arabia is expected to increase quotas for visitors starting this year, because construction work is winding down.

Requirements

According to QNA, Qataris who wish to go to Hajj should be at least 18 years old, or 16 if accompanied by an adult.

Expats must be 18 years or older. They should have lived in Qatar for at least three years and not performed Hajj in the past five years.

Females who are not traveling with close male relatives must be at least 45 years old, as per rules set by Saudi Hajj officials.

Jon Rawlinson/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar residents who aren’t approved to go to Hajj from Doha can still apply through their home countries, through the Saudi embassies there.

In this case, applicants would also have to travel to Saudi Arabia from their home country (not Qatar) and be part of a local Hajj company from that nation.

Anyone with Hajj-related questions in Qatar can call a special hotline at 132 during “business hours,” QNA reports.

Thoughts?