Yesterday evening, Writer Mr. Abdul Aziz Al Khater was featured by Al Jasra Cultural and Social Club to deliver a lecture on “Relationships in Qatari community”. During the lecture, he addressed various issues about relationships in Qatari community and the patterns for change. He also touched the implications on some social conceptions of solidarity, cohesion and will. Al Khater began his lecture by giving a background of the nature and components of Qatari society since the beginning of the 60s until today, touching on society transformations, challenges it faced until it was transformed from a society anchored around a horizontal relationship predominantly seeking the general good to a society that is characterized by a vertical relationship reducing the pursuit of personal interests at the expense of general interests.
Al Khater further indicated that, since the 60.s until the beginning of the 70.s society was based upon conformity with nature and this was the dominant feature of the social system. He pointed out that tranquility and peace-of-mind were the prevailing feelings in the society as a result of the above-mentioned conformity; as the calm of nature and the faith and contentment of human being match up. This was the case until the beginning of the 70.s when the situation was changed after independence. The state started to play a regulatory role; thus yielding a public sector middle class; i.e. the social class previously named senior officials class. During this period the relationship was characterized by being an elitist relationship as reflected in the gathering places of the class members. However horizontal relationship remained present in the society, hence positioning and balance became the two main features of the prevailing cognitive system. Furthermore, Al Khater noted that positioning here means enabling educated Qataris to assume the senior jobs, and the institution of a new middle class of public sector officials. This situation, he said, continued until the mid-90.s, the period which was followed by some sort of a scattered conscience since the late 90.s, when a huge leap in individual’s awareness of their geographical and historical environment, which had long been the source of balance and conformity. With the elimination of the old structure; estrangement has erupted between people.
Al Khater pointed out that the 70.s were characterized by a science-based pattern, predicated on horizontal relationships. The relationship was more of a productive relationship, as the educated person, per se, represented a productive value. However, in the 90.s and as a result of the surrounding circumstances, the state entered into various projects, leading to a change in the shape of the society and thus triggering the production of a special sort of culture. Today, he added, the community is facing huge challenges, ranging from an unprecedented population density to an information revolution, unjust blockade, and great projects. In the wake of all this, the horizontal relationship has declined in favor of the vertical relationship. Values of civil society have also eroded together with the concept of non-material values which had also declined in favor of material values. In this framework, Al Khater said that the horizontal relationship is the principal source of building the will of the community as distinct from the individual will, noting that one of the characteristics of the middle class is the presence of the horizontal relationship which would ensure that a civil society will be formed under the notion of shared interests. As a community, we should fulfill our role in restoring society to its original values based on the notion of stability and not spoils, the latter being a major threat to social consciousness, although the awakening of this consciousness is possible through continued awareness seminars and educational symposia, he said.