• Symbiosis: “interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.”
  • Emblematic: ” serving as a symbol of a particular quality or concept; Symbolic”
  • Introspection: ” the examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes.”

I have been working on this project for weeks, but until now, I have not come to grips with what I really wish to show about the culture of co-existence and lifestyle in our society.  So far, I have focused on the idea that we, Qatari people, are dependent on house cleaners, drivers, cooks, babysitters and other servants in our daily life; something which made us hardly self-reliant. However, deep inside me, I knew that there was something missing or unclear about this kind of thinking, and I was worried that it would not lead me to the product I wish to achieve.  Our country is undergoing a huge transformation at all levels, and Qatari people are the backbone of this change, leading engineers, doctors and professors, and investing millions of Qatari Riyals in all business fields. This means they are reliable and independent outside home, how can I depict them as totally dependent at home?

I discussed this with my Professor who suggested that I reconsider the way I depicted maids in earlier stages; I showed them wearing uniforms and carrying tag names showing who they are working for. My Professor suggested that I empower them by making their uniforms colorful and giving them business cards that show who they and not who they are working for.

That suggestion gave me a new perspective as if a blinding on my eyes was removed and I could see clearly. So far, I have presumed our lifestyle as a culture of dependence but now I see it is codependence in fact, and that is what I should be talking about.  This perspective helps me show my true point of view of our lifestyle. Qatari people do not really dehumanize the people who work for them; we do not own the people to make them wear uniforms and carry tag names.

I started to think differently and in a way that goes with my conscious thoughts and feelings towards the people who work for and live with us. The introspection process I went through, the observation of our home practices and the examination of my thoughts and emotions towards the servants who live with us led me to realize that the situation is more of a symbiosis. Maids and home workers in general benefit from us as much as we benefit from them. We live together in close physical association, but we understand each other. We are aware that it is in our advantage to accept them and they are aware that they should accept us to their advantage too.  This kind of mutual agreement serves both sides and the situation becomes a win-win situation. It is very much like a zero sum game, where both parties agree that no one loses. This perspective made me more aware of my point of view; after all, we are all people. They cook for us, clean our houses, tidy our rooms, drive us to school or to work, etc. but at the same time we serve them too; we help them achieve their dreams back home. In addition, our life together created a kind of bond between us. We are attached to them as much as they are attached to us. I know of maids who refuse to return home because they feel they belong here.

Now that I changed my perspective, I am focusing on the emblematic issues. I am considering the best representations that serve as symbols of this codependence and all the qualities that it represents for both sides.

critiquing project 02

My professors’ response to the scenes was positive; they liked the topics and the way I depicted aspects of some Qatari’s dependence on the services of maids even when they could do without them. Both professors and colleagues said the scenes were familiar to them; they often see local women followed by maids in malls and public places or trolley boys carrying goods behind  Qataris walking out of a shopping mall.  They encouraged me to think of other situations that illustrate different scenes in the same way.

During the discussion, I explained my illustrations focusing particularly on why I showed Qataris appear with their eyes closed while their maids have their eyes wide open. I wanted to stress the idea that local people’s dependence is sometimes too high to the point that they trust their maids with everything. Paradoxically, the way maids are sometimes treated is inhumane. Some families impose uniforms on their maids. Those uniforms dehumanize them and make them look like family possessions. Even worse, a trend that is gaining popularity, nowadays, is to make them put a tag with the family name on so that people know who they work for.




So far, the projects have been really illuminating and enriching. At first, choosing a topic to work on for a whole course was a bit challenging to me, as I had many ideas and many concerns and they all seemed interesting to me. However, the previous projects I worked on, and the steps that the Professors followed with us throughout the course, helped me narrow down my list of interesting topics to only one that I felt I was really keen to work on; the culture of dependence. This was the main thing I learned quickly from the project; how to choose a topic that is interesting to me, but at the same time it is tangible and has an objective whether social, cultural or other.  Another equally important thing I learned was how to approach the topic and how to present it. My first objective was to find a solution to the problem. But the investigations I made and the class discussions I had with my Professors shifted my approach to a more realistic and achievable objective. I shifted from problem-solving approach to an approach that aims at criticizing the problem in order to sensitize people on the implications of the problem.

However, I am still faced with a big challenge. My final vision of the thesis exhibition is to create objects, such as pieces of furniture, that show various aspects of Qatari lifestyle and clearly carry a message that dependence is a negative culture. My Professors think that this vision is not totally linked to the thesis itself and somehow does not have a graphic design aspect. My biggest task that I need to work hard on is to persuade my Professors of my line of thinking and establish a clear link between the final outcome of my project and my thesis topic.

Bibliography/ References

Here are some of the books and articles I referred to for the completion of my work. I used these references first to explore the deep meaning of dependence and its implications and second to present, illustrate and document my topic.

Articles: ( that helped me to understand and explore more the meaning of being dependent /independent and their actions )

Book: ( allowed me to discover the balanced lifestyle that somehow gives the idea of how to solve such an issue; the culture of dependence )

  • Dunne, Linnea. Lagom: the Swedish art of balanced living. Gaia, 2017

Other Books and articles: ( that gave me an idea of how to present, illustrate and document my topic )

Vocabulary/ Glossary – 01

Below are some definitions that have helped me understand better my topic:

  • Dependence: “dependent people usually try to avoid responsibility, endlessly complain, blame others, tell lies and avoid the consequences of their actions. Dependent people avoid developing essential qualities and skills that support adult long-term happiness. They may demand or manipulate other people to do for them what they will not to do for themselves.”

          ” relying on someone or something else for aid, support, etc.” 

  • criticism: the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.”

    ” the act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding.”

  • Social Commentary:  “a spoken or written act of rebellion toward an individual or group; commentary on social issues or society”

Literature Review



  • Dunne, Linnea. Lagom: the Swedish art of balanced living. Gaia, 2017.

precedent Reviews

Below are links and photos of previous designers projects related to social commentary and criticism of lifestyles. My work is influenced by these artists whose works helped figure out how my thesis would look like.



visual inspirations

Shifting Approach

As I said in an earlier account of the process, a meeting with Professor Levi, the Professor with whom I started the project ” culture of dependence”, veered my interest from looking for a solution to the problem of the culture of dependence to critiquing the culture of dependence. In a class meeting with my current Professors, I explained my ideas focusing basically on the shift in my thinking vis-a-vis what I want to achieve or the perspective from which I wish to approach my graduation thesis. From what I said and based on the material I showed them from my last year’s project regarding the culture of dependence, my Professors noticed that what I was doing had to do more with criticizing aspects of the Qatari lifestyle rather than critiquing the culture of dependence of the Qatari society or attempting to provide Qataris with solutions.

 My last year project regarding the culture of dependence

The Professors’ explanation of the difference between critique and criticism and the examples they provided made things crystal clear for me and sent me in the right direction. What I have to do now, following their recommendations, is to think of several situations that clearly illustrate the culture of dependence and provide shocking examples of what I consider negative aspects of the Qatari lifestyle.

The examples are:

  • A Woman walking out of a shopping mall followed by a maid carrying her bags.
  • A Qatari walking out of a grocery store followed by a boy pushing a trolley (or carrying the bags) and loading the car with the purchased goods.
  • Qatari sitting in his/her car and pressing his/her car horn for the shopkeeper to come and take the order
  • Qatari buying furniture from IKEA, but hiring someone to fix it at home, and thus reversing the principle of DIY.
  • Total reliance of delivery and home services (a man calling someone to come home and fix a mobile, a woman calling a room services saloon to have her nails polished at home, ordering food and all types of goods from home, etc.)

These examples, and many more, have become normal practices in our society to the point that even non-Qatari people who live here got influenced by our lifestyle and started following our mode of life, often in an even worse form.

Below are the final illustrations of some of the above-mentioned shocking examples ( Project 02 final outcome ) :