Qat Chews, Diwaniyas, and Coffeehouses: Civic Traditions in Yemen, Kuwait, and Egypt Open Access

El-Kebbi, Nour Mariam (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/fq977t82f?locale=en
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Abstract

Abstract

Qat Chews, Diwaniyas, and Coffeehouses: Civic Traditions in Yemen, Kuwait, and Egypt
By Nour Mariam El-Kebbi

This study aims to challenge the skeptical view of some scholars, and indeed much of the Western world, regarding the possibility of functioning democratic states in the Middle East. In combatting the assumption that democracy cannot thrive in the newly liberated states of the Arab Spring, this study examines the informal networks and gathering traditions of three states, each with a history of authoritarian-style rule: Yemen under President Saleh (1978-2012), Kuwait under the rule of Al Sabah family (1756-Present), and Egypt under President Mubarak (1981-2011). In each state, the focus is placed on a traditional gathering that takes place on a regular basis and is a space that allows for dialogue, discussion, and debate--components of Habermas' public sphere that are critical to the creation of public opinion and political participation.

The goal in examining these traditions in each state was to explore whether these social institutions played a crucial role in the political culture and processes of these states, where formally organized political institutions--such as opposition political parties, civil society organizations, and political interest groups--were banned or severely restricted. The study aimed at ascertaining whether these informal, traditional networks served as important venues for political discussion, rational debate, and participation. Upon finding that these social institutions were in fact highly involved in the political culture of their respective state, this study sought to find evidence both historically and in the context of the recent Arab Uprisings that illustrated the ways in which these social institutions, most prominently the Kuwaiti diwaniya, played important roles as informal political institutions.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction.............................1

Theory.............................6

1. The Role of Qat Chews in the Social and Political Life of Yemen.....18

2. Kuwaiti Diwaniyas: Where the Ruled Meet Their Rulers.................34

3. Drinking the Roasted Seeds of Revolution: Coffeehouses in Egypt..........49

4. The Internet: Virtually Revolutionizing Public Space in the Middle East........67

Conclusion..................................78

References.................................85

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