The Middle East gets more bad publicity than good by a long way. And certainly, many locations out here are the victims of religious bigotry, lack or low levels of education, and extreme intolerance. The life of Middle East ladies also comes in for much negative comment, resulting from lifestyles imposed by traditional or religious cultures that seem out of place in the ‘modern’ world.
But there are many locations in the Middle East where ladies can enjoy normal social lives outside their homes. Qatar is one such place and the shot of the three ladies below was taken one Friday evening at MB’s local souq. MB knows, by their dress style, that the ladies are not Qatari locals. If they were, they would be wearing full-length head-to-toe black abiya (burka) with or without face-veil (called ‘niqab’ in Arabic). The same is generally true of all ladies who are locals of the Arabian Gulf – UAE, Saudi Arabia, Yemen. So the below three ladies are probably from the Levant or ‘Sham’ (Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine).
One can see designer handbags in the shot, and all three ladies are smoking shisha from shisha water pipes (see the standing pipe next to the lady on the right). Even though more religious Muslims consider shisha, or smoking generally, to be haram (religiously forbidden), you will witness shisha-smoking in almost every restaurant in the entire Middle East, haram or not!
All three ladies are also wearing Muslim headscarves (called ‘hijab’ in Arabic), much like our mothers or grandmothers did in the past in Western Europe, as MB likes to remind Westies on occasion. But you will also occasionally see more modern Levant or Arabic North African Muslim ladies not wearing any head cover at all in public. But MB thinks it’s true to say that they are the exception to the general rule.
Are women not allowed to gather at cafes during the evening hours?
I live in pure ignorance of the Middle Eastern Lifestyles, mainly for fear that if I search to read about it I will be considered a person of interest…while living in a my native country that espouses freedoms galore.
Just because an Arab Muslim lady wears an abiya, like the lady in the below pic and like many other women in the Arabian Gulf, does not mean that she does not have the same hobbies and interests that a lady back home might have. MB took this shot at a food demonstration in the gourmet food and restaurant section of Galarie Lafatette in Dubai Mall. Her similarly dressed cousin was giving the demonstration at the time and a friend of MB was hosting the event.
As you can see she likes her style, within the confines of her culture, and has a high end canon camera. If MB may be a tad critical – her photo shooting technique is poor and that photo will have come out blurry for sure!
A Qatari lady wears a face mask called a ‘burqa’ – not to be confused with the same word used in Western countries to describe the head to toe black dress that is also worn in these parts – that ‘burqa’ name comes from Afghanistan. The ‘burqa face mask is often work by elderly ladies in the Gulf region. The younger ones are are much less likely to wear one, preferring sun glasses by ‘Prada’ and others.