Here’s kind of a sad thought, the thobe is such a great peice of clothing, it’s woven and cut in such a way that it keeps you cool by circulating air and due to it’s material and colour (usually white) it blocks heat from the sun.
As I was thinking about the thobe I started to think about the advantages and disadvantages that it held at a social level. I notice that if I’m wearing a thobe, some people treat me nicer in stores, in other stores they’ll assume I’m rich and bump up the price. Why is that? That’s discrimination in it’s purist form.
What did get me into thinking though was the reaction that I got during my daily activities. In particular, I noted that when I’m wearing a thobe and in the elevator, expats are less likely to say ‘good morning’ to me than if I’m in a suit (which I also wear). I pointed it out to a Kuwaiti friend of mine (who was wearing a suit) who said that it was just a coincidence (which it might well be!) when a person entered the elevator turned to my friend said Good Morning and ignored me (I was on the other side).
It could be paranoia or a coincidence, it could be that I’m vigilant, but trust me I don’t look menacing and usually smile and always say Salam when entering an area. Don’t be shy of Qataris (or Arabs in general), they may look like gliding ghosts (a friend once said that to me), but we’re more like Men in White 🙂
Solution? More expats need to wear the thobe so that the line between Qataris and non-Qataris is blurred. We do after all live in a country which I’m proud to say is becoming more International and globally tolerant (I hope). Oh and for those who are actually thinking of getting a thobe, do it! Qataris will be happy at the fact that expats are adopting their culture and you’ll feel much more comfortable too!