# reflection


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.