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Culture & Identity of Qatar

Introduction

The people of Qatar live a fairly comfortable lifestyle based on their economic success and wealth, but this lifestyle is a relatively new switch from their historic way of life, which was simple and based on the lands.

Today the people's lifestyle is still arguably based on the lands as much of their wealth comes from natural gas and crude oil, two natural resources. However, these economic successes have only changed aspects of their culture as traditional dress, many foods, religion, and family are still rooted in their past.

The people maintain most aspects of their past in a cultural sense, but from a lifestyle viewpoint the historic life is all but lost. The most noticeable part of daily life that has existed for years is that of Islamic rules. Friday is Islam's holy day so Friday and Saturday remain the country's weekend days off. Islam also helps contribute to dietary restrictions and social interactions, truly altering the entertainment options and nightlife in the country.

However, most of the routine and normalcy of life today in Qatar is based on modern day changes. New foods have been introduced thanks to new technologies and economic wealth, cell phone and other technology is the norm for most people, and modern amenities from air conditioning to transportation makes life much simpler today that it was in the past.

The oil and natural gas industries has also given many people regular jobs that run on a schedule giving most people defined working hours and free time. These industries have also urbanized the people so today nearly everyone in the country lives in Doha or another urban area, including the sprawl from the capital. This urban lifestyle also affects the way of life to a great degree.

Today the way of life is based on modern technology and economic success, but the culture remains rooted in the past with family, religion, and society at the heart of the country.

Identity

The people of Qatar identify in a number of ways and, among themselves, this tends to begin with their tribal or ethnic affiliation. This divides the people into the Bedouin, the Abd, and the Hadar people, which are defined primarily by ethnicity, but also by history. Of these people, the Bedouin people have the longest history in the region and are ethnically Arab, the Abd are people of African ancestry, and the Hadar are people with Persian ancestry.

On a secondary level, and to most foreigners, the people of Qatar identify as being "Qatari," which is a politically-based identity that differentiates (and unites) the local people from the foreigners, who are many in Qatar. Most temporary immigrant workers in Qatar tend to identify as they did in their home country, which is often tied to either ethnicity or citizenship.

This page was last updated: December, 2013