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Diwaniya no longer a male bastion

Muna Al-Fuzai

Muna Al-Fuzai

The diwaniya in Kuwait has existed since a long time. It was a male domain and no women were welcomed or allowed to visit it for any reason. That is all history now. The diwaniya is no longer limited for males only. A new trend emerged a few years ago with mixed diwaniyas. But these were few and for highly intellectual figures to discuss specific matters of interests to them.
Nevertheless, several diwaniyas now welcome and appreciate visits of women activists and female parliament candidates to talk and discuss national issues or even host foreign guests, bearing in mind that we have many female diplomats who visit diwaniyas for social events.
Does that mean the diwaniya is no longer representing the sole avenue for men's social life here in Kuwait? Yes, because youth - especially those between the ages of 18 to 30 - have different interests and with the spread of shisha cafes, western restaurants and malls, the excuse that they only can get together in the diwaniya is not true, except for social events and Ramadan gatherings.
During Ramadan this year, some diwaniya chiefs were annoyed because most youths had been busy following World Cup games. For them, it was a little embarrassing receiving guests while everyone else was busy and away. One diwaniya owner told me that he would rather tell diplomatic guests to visit him either before or after football matches. The World Cup is over now, and everyone has begun the countdown for Eid.
The diwaniya is a fundamental part of Kuwaiti life and traditional social life. But it has become less conservative. This is normal, due to lifestyle changes. And with more youth educated in the West, the power of the diwaniya is no longer a pressure. Now the diwaniya only keeps its social status.
One tip if you go to a Kuwaiti diwaniya in Ramadan - enjoy the dates and don't consume too much coffee!

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This article was published on 17/07/2014