Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Qatar and the U.S.: Just Like Me!

In honor of this week's much-anticipated trip home, here are our Top Ten Ways Qatar and the United States are alike:
 
10.  Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson in an episode of Good Times, c 1970-80s
(from the web)
 
American TV child actor, Jackson Five baby sister, Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction star…married to a Qatari.
 
9.    Malls
 
Villagio, Lagoona, City Center, Landmark…just like the U.S., there are malls aplenty in Doha - with shops like H&M, Virgin Megastore, Apple, Nike, Zara, Payless Shoes, Starbucks, Coffee Beanery. 
 
Doha malls are shiny
 
8.    People from…elsewhere
 
American Indians arrived first.  Then came the boats.  The new people planted seeds, built stuff.  Today, descendents of immigrant outnumber American Indians - and many U.S. citizens have never met an American Indian.  In Qatar, building, planting expats outnumber locals 4 to 1.  Western culture is widespread.  And many of these from-elsewhere people have never met a Qatari.
 
7.    Same Sex PDA
 
 
6.    Flowers
 
Oh the planting and the watering!  Oh the sneezing and the coughing!  Sure there's a construction boom in Doha, but there's also a movement to change the country's overall color from sandy, rocky brown to blooming, growing green.  A year ago birdsong was piped into trees through speakers tucked between branches.  Today, Doha has birds.  Doha has flowers.  Doha has seeds and fluff and…allergens.  (Ah-choo!)
 
5.    Made in China (and India)
 
Doha's famous Souq Waqif is rebuilt to look old, so visitors can enjoy a "real" Middle Eastern outing.  Visit the handcraft area where you will see real (from India) Indians weaving traditional Middle Eastern baskets, sewing traditional Middle Eastern clothing, creating traditional Middle Eastern art. Visit the shops and barter Middle Eastern style (with Indians or from-elsewhere Arabs) for scarves, Pashminas, watches, nesting dolls and more…all of which is quite often: Made in China (and India).
 
Just like America!
 
4.    Covered ladies
 
This photo is from canstockphoto.com, but for the record, I personally know a soccer-playing, habit-wearing, under-30 years old, American nun.  She's fabulous!
 
Just like Qatar's traditional ladies!
 
3.    McDonalds, KFC, Chili's, Pizza Hut, Fridays, Applebee's
 
There's an intersection in Doha popularly known as "cholesterol corner." Here you will find an endless stretch of American restaurants featuring burgers, fries, nachos, peanut buster parfaits and bottomless-chips-and-salsa.
 
American style muffin-top (ie, wobbly, buttery, over-the-belt layers of belly fat): no charge.
 
2.    English
 
America does not have an official National Language (unlike Qatar where the official National Language is Arabic).  UNofficially - America's National Language is English.  UNofficially - so is Qatar's…as more citizens speak English than Arabic.
 
1.    Family Values
 
Special dining areas for groups that include women and children, Family Fridays, joined households, arranged- and inter-marriage, Salah, sons who skip business meetings to take Mom to the mall…these are just a few of the ways Middle Easterners honor Family while respecting their culture.
 
Kin takes the top spot in America too: a dad who works multiple (or far away?) jobs in a bad economy to care for his family, a mom who stays up late to decorate cupcakes for the second grade party.  Prayer.  Skype. Midnight phone calls. Travelling 24 hours for a few days together.
 
Different.  And the Same.
 
Our Number One Most Important
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