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Incensed over dress code regulations that prohibit those wearing thobes and abayas from attending the upcoming Russell Peters comedy show, several locals are urging residents not to attend the event.

UPDATE | 5:38pm

The event’s organizers have now retracted their earlier remarks about those in national attire being banned from the event, calling the prohibition a “misprint.”

A statement on their Facebook page reads:

“Please note in regards to recent comments on social media. We wanted to clarify that NATIONAL DRESS IS ALLOWED to the Russell Peters Event. We apologise but it states on the terms and conditions in english that no national dress is allowed, this was a mis-print for a previous event and as noted is does not say so in Arabic.

Last night, the comedian himself weighed in on the issue, saying:

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Peters, a renowned Canadian comedian, makes his Doha debut on Oct. 20 at the Sheraton. He has a wide fan base here because his humor highlights racial, ethnic, class and cultural stereotypes.

The controversy began when Qatar residents began tweeting a picture of the stipulations listed on the back of the show’s tickets, which include rules about a dress code:

“Please respect the local rules and regulations. No headgear of any kind. No National Dress.”

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Iconic Qatar, which is organizing the event, confirmed in a statement to Doha News that the regulation is in place because alcohol will be served at the show.

Drinking alcohol is prohibited in Islam, and many observant Muslims who don’t imbibe also prefer to not be around people who are drinking.

According to the statement, women wearing hijab but not abaya would still be allowed in the event.

It continues:

“This is the same rule that applies to every establishment that serves alcohol in Qatar. We apologize for the confusion.”

Other comedy shows, including Laughter Factory, which will be held at the Raddison Blu next week, also typically prohibit those in national dress from attending due to the presence of alcohol.

Women in headscarves were also reportedly turned away from Tom Jones last month for the same reason:

But the dress code policy is often unevenly enforced, and adding to the confusion is the fact that Qatari women were allowed to attend the Chris Tucker show at the Sheraton earlier this year year.

This afternoon, the hashtag #أرفض_حفل_راسل_بيترز (Boycott Russell Peters) has been gaining traction, with residents complaining about being left out of the event in their own country.

(“The ideal form of protest would be to greet him in the airport with banners and signs in a language he can understand stating that he’s not welcome in our town.”)

Iconic Qatar said refunds would be available to those who wanted them, at the place where they purchased their tickets (either the Sheraton or Crepaway).

But Hamad Al-Amari, a Qatari comedian, said that was besides the point. Speaking to Doha News, he said:

“It’s not about the refund, it’s the principle. You’re promoting this event that is just going to happen once. Why is it very important for alcohol to be sold? (Russell Peters) is from this region, he’s a familiar face to us. He’s hilarious. I want to laugh.”

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo for illustrative purposes only by Simon Cocks

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As Qatar’s population grows, its residents appear to be finding it increasingly harder to live in harmony, or at least mutual understanding. 

That’s the conclusion reached by the Peninsula in a series of articles published today. Spurred by recent allegations of impropriety by Western employees at the Qatar Museums Authority, the newspaper looks into social problems caused by Qatar’s increasingly imbalanced population.

Striking a balanceBridging the citizen-expat gap and Citizens discriminated against present controversial views from both sides of the divide. 

The series only appears to touch on the surface of expat-national relations, and does not include what both groups have in common – ie concerns about the rising cost of living, increasing road congestion or National Day pride.

But its key themes – cultural differences, racism/class issues and workplace clashes, are undoubtedly issues of concern for many of the people living and working here. 

These points include:

  • That many Qataris feel their government is favoring Westerners by giving them influential, well paid jobs, when they feel a national with a relevant qualification should have been appointed instead;
  • That conversely, many expats professionals feel that educational qualifications are taking precedent over work experience, and that Qataris should not expect a management job straight after graduation;
  • That there’s very little mixing between nationals and expats;
  • That Qataris “view Asian expats differently,” because, to quote the newspaper, “as they are mostly in private jobs that locals abhor due to lower pay and perks, there is hardly any clash of interest.” The paper also adds that locals feel Indians are “closer to their culture;” and
  • That Qataris see Westerners as coming from an “alien culture” with a “mercenary outlook.”

Reaction to the series on Twitter has been divided:

What do you think about the state of expat/Qatari relations here? Thoughts?
Credit: Photo by Museum of Islamic Art on Facebook

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In a move apparently aimed at bolstering the country’s judiciary, benefit packages for judges, judicial assistants, and Qatari members of the public prosecution have been increased to 120 percent of their salaries by Emiri decree, QNA reports.

Previously, all staffers received allowances totaling some 60 percent of their monthly wages. The increase, stipulated on Wednesday by the Emiri decisions number 80 and 81 of 2013, will presumably apply to housing, education, travel and other allotments given to employees. 

Speaking to Al Raya, Qatar’s justice minister hailed the move, saying the Emir was strengthening the rule of law by shoring up the independence of the nation’s judiciary.

Abdul Rahman Jufairi, a local lawyer, added that the increase was necessary because judges and prosecutors are not allowed to engage in any business other than the judiciary.

Easing “pressures”

Another lawyer told the Arabic-language newspaper that the boost would “increase the psychological comfort” of prosecutors, reducing the “pressures of life” and allowing them to focus more squarely on the cases at hand.

Finally, the increase will ideally motivate more Qataris to enter the country’s legal system, which is seeing a huge backlog as Qatar’s population has doubled in the past six years.

Enormous wage and benefit increases are nothing new in Qatar. In 2011, while he was still Heir Apparent and Deputy Emir, Sheikh Tamim raised salaries for all nationals in the public sector by 60 percent. Military personnel saw a hike of 120 percent.

Many companies in the private sector quickly followed suit, raising the salaries of locals to “promote the welfare of all Qatari citizens.”

Meanwhile, expats have complained that the increases in their pay have not kept pace with the rising cost of living here.

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Justice on Facebook