Insights into Qatar’s Society
Even today, Qatar’s society is significantly influenced by its rich history. They bridge the gap between the preservation of Middle Eastern values and the launching of Western-influenced modernity: on the one hand traditional customs determine private and public life, on the other hand the influences of globalization are omnipresent. Historic bazars can be found next to sumptuous and modern shopping malls such as the Villaggio Mall in Doha.
The jurisprudence of the civil judicial system is influenced by laical views, but the main pillar is the Sharia. It relies on the Quranic speeches and actions of the Prophet Muhammad, but is not a finite collection of legal texts. It includes not only legal but also moral components of general living together.
The conservative interpretation of Qur’an in Qatar expects men and women to cover each other morally. Men wear regionally white, long, robe-like shirts and cover their heads with shawls, which are held by a braided cord-line. Women wrap themselves in black, wide-cut dresses and often cover their faces with a veil. Both men and women clearly differentiate themselves from foreigners living in Qatar and thus stand out in the streetscape. Because the Qataris themselves only represent about 12% of the total population: Indians, Nepalese, Pakistanis, Europeans and many other ethnic groups are in the country, making Qatar a melting pot of cultures and worldviews. There is freedom of religion and so you will find not only the magnificent mosque buildings but also churches and temples on the peninsula.
Freedom also enjoys since 1995 officially the press, which was introduced by King Hamad. In June 2013, he handed over the regency to his son Tamim. Since then, he has governed the absolute monarchy, which includes an advisory assembly of 35 appointed members and a consultative council of 29 elected members. Tamim continues his father’s course and invests extensively in the future of his country. He paved the way for transforming Qatar into a comprehensive welfare state: programs for free education for all residents of the country, a wide range of leisure facilities and a modern healthcare system bear the signature of the young ruler. Through reforms, he created jobs in the public sector and pays out extensive pensions to nationals and their families.
As in other Arab societies, the family serves as the center of social interaction. It is the linchpin and is considered sacred in the sense of the Qur’an. Equally significant is the Qataris’ global hospitality. It goes back to their Bedouin heritage and manifests itself in friendly invitations to tea, Arabic coffee and joint ventures in which casual talks are held: A warm and kind welcoming is always of paramount importance.