Category Archives: Language/Culture

When does a child become an adult?

Cindi Kennaley asked me on the post Questions Expats in Qatar never ask me … “#3 When do you consider a child an adult?”

By: epSos .de

I will start this by answering another related question… 😉

What does it mean when somebody is an adult?

In many countries it’s when you can drink, or watch pr0n, or do some things… Basically a child cannot do some things until they are considered an adult… They regulate it by age, 16, 18, 21 … depending on the “thing” and the country.

In Qatari culture, it comes directly from Islam: it’s not what you are allowed to do, being an adult is bearing more responsibilities, a child isn’t responsible for what they do, if they don’t pray, don’t fast, lie, cheat, god wouldn’t punish them (the responsibility of the parents would be to teach them to do the right thing)… When one reaches puberty they are adult, they are responsible for everything they do or don’t do: prayer, fasting, telling the truth, marriage/establishing a family, hajj … it’s endless.

Well, it isn’t by age, puberty is the main thing.

For Girls

It’s much simpler than boys: the first period is the defining moment, she’s immediately adult… She’s not a girl anymore, she’s a woman.

For Boys

We have to notice multiple factors: morning erections, they start looking at women differently… Hey, you’re a man!

In our culture, we don’t leave our parents’ house until we really have to, we don’t leave them when we’re a specific age…

I have 3 “adult” children, two girls (currently 17 and 14) became adults when they were around 10, my 11-year old son is a man… Their grandmothers got married at ages 13 and 15, they both had their first child in the first year (My mother was 16 when I was born).

Here’s a pdf file containing the English translation of a booklet related to this topic: O My Child! You’ve Become an Adult

A typical Qatari family friday

As I am curating the twitter user @weareqatar , I get some questions that aren’t easy to answer in 140 characters or less, so I’m replying here and linking there.

I got this question:

What is Friday in Arabic, the word is “Jumuah” which means gathering. It’s a day of gathering people together.

I would start by saying that every family does different things, it starts with the tribal affiliation, and ends in personal choices. I will describe what my family does.

Just like everyday, I get up for the morning prayer (before sunrise, tomorrow the call will be 4:48 am, prayer is around 25 minutes later), I try go to the mosque and pray in congregation.

I go back into bed and sleep for a while, then I get up at around 10am (most of the family is already up, probably had a bath/shower, and breakfast). I usually have a shower, get dressed in a fresh thobe, get a fresh ghutra (I usually prefer white), get ready to go to the mosque.

I go to the ground floor of our house and my children rush to kiss my head.

My wife would bring some burning oud. She would put the oud container on the floor, and I would stand over it… the incensed smoke would pass under my thobe, and start escaping from between the buttons. My 11-year old son would do the same.

Then she brings some oud oil  and puts a dab behind my ears, and another one on the back of my right hand. I would spread those behind my ears, and the one on my hand and use it to perfume my hands and my face. My son does the same.

We go to the mosque to attend the Friday prayers: Listen to both sermons, and pray.

We usually go as a family to my parents’ house for lunch, and since Friday prayers finish earlier and my daughters need “more time to get ready”, my son and I go to Starbucks. We go back home and pick up the rest of the family to go to my parents’ house.

When we arrive, we split into 2 groups:

  1. The 1st group is my parents, myself, my siblings, and all the boys.
  2. The 2nd one is my wife, my brother’s wife, my daughters, and my sister’s daughters.

Depending on the attendance, we may group differently.

When I enter the house, I start by greeting “Al-Salam Alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh”, and try to find my mother. I kiss her on the head, then do the same for my father. My siblings and nieces/nephews would be queuing to kiss my head.

Each group has their own lunch, we chat, and we discuss many things… After lunch we would sip some tea, Arabic coffee, eat some cake, sweets…

We would usually pray together in the Afternoon (Asr) and Sunset (Maghrib) prayers.

When we’re ready to leave, my wife and children may want to visit their aunts, my wife’s friends’ houses (they used to visit their grandmother’s house).

I usually go back home after that, I would sometimes visit some friends or go to the tailor, hairdresser, or similar requirements, usually with my son.

I hope this sheds a light on a typical Qatari Friday.


“I hate men”

This is a story that happened to me and my little daughter in a shopping mall’s play area… This area is controlled by a huge grumpy security guard wearing a fake military uniform…

He was opening and closing the entrance and hated it when people wanted to go in our out of the play area, he also controlled what everybody inside was wearing, he made sure everybody kept their shoes in the designated area by screaming “Shoes!

We went in and out of that area a few times, and sometimes my daughter would forget to take of her shoes outside, we got used to his harsh voice … “Shoes!

After the 5th time, my daughter simply said “I hate men!”



p.s. This post was started on the 22nd of February 2012, completed in 2014.


At a project management course, the instructor was emphasizing the importance of language in multinational projects, since the course was in English he said “I’m sure most of you understand some kind of English… Who speaks other languages?” most of the attendees raised their hands since none of us is a native speaker of English.

british typography - no smoking in 31 languages
Creative Commons License photo credit: uair01

He asked “Who speaks Spanish?”, a South American raised his hand, so did I.

He then asked “French?” I raised my hand… He asked “really?” so I just said “Mais oui, je crois que je parle le Français trés bien.”

He was looking for a language nobody spoke, so he just said “German?????”

I raised my hand again! He laughed and said not again… Really? My reply was that I am able to say “guten tag, zwei bigmac menüs und Eins kindermenü mit nuggets”… Sometimes all the language one needs is contextual to the project 🙂