Kaltham Al- Ghanim, Andrew Gardner and Sherine El-Menshawy
This study is the first attempt to ethnographically assess the influences of supermalls on cultural change. It takes a first step toward enhancing our understanding of the influences of globalization and consumer culture as drivers of the social and cultural changes to Qatar’s traditional society, to similar cultural configurations in the Middle East, and to global cultural diversity. This study found that there are changes in the patterns of behavior and the daily lives of the two studied groups, which were particularly evident for those living proximate to the supermall. For example, living near Villaggio changed family eating habits because many families preferred easily cooked or fast food at the supermall to cooking at home. Changes to relationships within and among households were observed. For example, with the advent of the Villaggio, visits between families in their homes became less frequent, and individuals now stroll through the supermall, watch movies at the cinema, and engage in Western activities, such as ice skating. In sum, Villaggio has helped to bring significant changes to the ways that families entertain themselves and spend their leisure time. The findings of this study reveal the depth of the social and cultural changes experienced by members of traditional Doha society because of the influence of globalization. supermalls have become a sensation in their effects on the lifestyles of Qataris, particularly with respect to shopping and socializing practices. We conclude that many aspects of cultural diversity and cultural identity are threatened by supermalls because they could gradually eclipse the symbols and values by which Qataris understand their culture and tradition. The analysis found specific themes regarding cultural and social change regarding national identity, social status, social practices, family life, and the social geography of the city.