Edited by Özlem Sandıkcı and Gillian Rice
Chapter 5: Gender and Privacy in Arab Gulf States: Implications for Consumption and Marketing
Russell Belk and Rana Sobh* GENDER AND PRIVACY Privacy and gender segregation are anchors for identity in Arab-Gulf Countries. The significant need for privacy of individuals in the region impacts different aspects of life including consumption. However, the meaning of privacy in Islam is different from that in Western culture and so the reason why it is prized in the Gulf is somewhat different from the reasons why it is valued in the West. Thus, a good understanding of this concept in the region and its implications for marketing practices is of paramount importance. In this chapter we report and analyze the findings of two qualitative studies involving gender and privacy in the Arab Gulf states of Qatar and United Arab Emirates. One involved the gendered spaces of the home and the second involved the privacy provided by ‘covering’ among young women. We find that privacy for females remains a key consideration in home design and use, while it is becoming less of a concern in the clothing and grooming practices of university students. Part of evolution in covering practices is generational, with young women wanting to distinguish themselves from older generations. Part is also due to their feeling greater attraction to ‘modern’ and ‘Western’ practices in response to increased wealth, openness to Western media, and the influx of foreigners in their countries. But part of the covering practices of these young women remains rooted in the same cultural traditionalism expressed in the conspicuous gender segregation found in the home....
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