Attitudinal change towards traditional attire among Qatari women over one generation
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In recent years, an increase of prejudice against Islam has brought attention as well as biases against Gulf women wearing traditional attire. In particular, Qatari women have been a focus of this attention due to Qatar‘s economic prosperity and prominence in the world and regional affairs. Some outsiders still think Qatar is undeveloped and that people continue to live in a nomadic lifestyle which is a reflection of an inherited orientalist assumption. Moreover, perhaps due to Qatar‘s conservative society, particularly in terms of the highly restricted sphere women have within the society, not much sociological or anthropological research has been conducted on Qatari women and their traditional dress. With the objective of contributing to the academic discourse in this regard, this thesis aims to clarify the relationship between the rapid social changes in Qatar and the significance of the traditional female attire in order to both gain a greater insight into Qatari women‘s lives and to prevent misconceptions about them. Thus, this study discusses the differences in use of traditional attire and explores Qatari women‘s perceptions and perspectives towards it by focusing on differences between generations. The results extracted from in-depth interviews with 80 Qatari women (40 of young women and 40 of their mothers) are discussed widely from social, religious, and political viewpoints, and taking into account the main theoretical approaches about functions and developments of dress and cloth. Through the examination of these differences and changes concerning traditional attire, this research demonstrates implications of regional events and of the development of women‘s status and roles as well as the limitations in Qatari society. More importantly, it explains how traditional attire has evolved from a means of concealing women‘s identity and visibility to a form of personal expression and a way of imparting information about the wearers‘ social position vis-à-vis class, ethnicity, and degree of conservativeness. Finally, it reveals perceptions of the two generations towards the differences and changes in the traditional attire.
- Gulf Studies [36 items ]