A Tiny Country in the Middle East Has Become a Destination for Globetrotting Trendsetters
- 6 pictures
In America, the Middle East has long been misunderstood. Despite its rich history and traditions, the often-troubled political and religious landscape has prevented travelers from venturing into the region. Especially if they don't have family or friends there.
But Qatar, located in Western Asia next to Saudi Arabia, has been extremely stable since getting a new ruler in 1995. It is also more liberal than many of the neighboring countries, with a new constitution that allows women to vote.
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As a consequence, creative students and businesswomen have started to flock to the area, creating an eclectic mix of fashion and culture. Carla Mallari, a Doha-based style blogger, noticed the trend and wanted to document it. "Qatar has a mix of people coming from all over the world," she told IFT. "It creates a diverse style influenced by cultures hailing from East and West." That hodgepodge of styles inspired the name of her blog, Nomad*.
Even with the abundance of foreign influence, tradition still reigns. "They are proud of their culture; never would they want to get rid of it," Mallari explained. Part of that heritage is modest dress. Most of the small population of 300,000 is Sunni, one of the two main branches of Islam. In deference to their faith, many Qatar-born women don't believe in showing skin. So long-sleeved tops, maxiskirts and leggings are big sellers. Nevertheless, many women add their own spin, said Mallari. "They're quite style savvy in the way they put the pieces together."
Though shopping destinations are limited, Mallari says there's no shortage of designer duds, especially given the large affluent population. "You might see a Qatari male garment worn with Louis Vuitton loafers rather than a traditional sandal. And sometimes it will even be accessorized with cool Ray-Bans."
Like America, Qatar has also been inundated with neon hues this summer. "The traditional wear for female Qataris is an abaya - a long black silk robe-like garment worn with a shayla, or black scarf to cover the hair," Mallari explained. "Now many abayas are accessorized with neon accented heels and bags. You can even spot abayas with colorful neon embellishments. It's definitely a way for these girls to show off their own personal style."
Many photos on the site also feature transplants from America, Australia and Asia. "Each community influences the other, but people still find ways to make themselves stand out."
Check out Mallari's amazing photos at http://nomadstyle.tumblr.com/archive.
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