WATCH: The Qatari Majlis
Even before the coming of Islam, the majlis played a role in the fabric of Arab society. In its way, this gathering is considered a hallmark of Arab culture and communication practices, complete with the offerings of karak, gahwa, dried fruits and sweets it conjures up.
The majlis is considered a space to receive visitors and offer them hospitality. Every Qatari home has a majlis, and the men often have a separate one for receiving male visitors.
According to the findings of a group of students from Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar (VCU-Q), 77 percent of Qataris gather in a majlis at least once a week. 52 percent of Qatari men admitted to prefer spending time in the majlis than at home, while 80 percent of Qatari women preferred their homes to the majlis.
The word for majlis itself comes from the Arabic word ‘ajlis’, which means ‘to sit’. A gathering in a majlis can mean anything from serious discussion to card playing and video games, but all in all it’s a social activity meant to bring people together.
Because these gatherings have been historically used to discuss political matters as much as to drink tea, the word majlis is used for parliaments in the Maldives, Iran, Turkmenistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and other countries.