Venus and Mahrs
Venus and Mahrs
Dating, Sex, and Marriage
This chapter considers the impact of sweeping socioeconomic transformation on dating, sex, and marriage. Public interactions between men and women, including married couples, are heavily restricted in Qatar. This doesn’t stop young adults from hooking up surreptitiously, or gay and lesbian culture, which is illegal but as prevalent in Doha as anywhere else. The prohibitions related to dating contribute to high rates of marriage between first and second cousins, pairings that are typically arranged by families. The persistence of consanguinity in Qatar is partly explained by the historical connections between families and tribes in the Gulf. During the Bedouin era, weddings were modest events that reflected the dire circumstances of that time; today, these events are opulent fairy tales from Disney movies, with families competing to throw the “wedding of the year.” These dynamics are shaped by the ubiquity of Western popular culture, which venerates romantic love, and changing expectations about marriage. Drawing on elements of modern traditionalism, Qataris utilize an array of rhetorical and behavioral strategies that situate arranged, inner-family marriages as in step with contemporary ideals about matrimony.
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