Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Only Ten Generations

We were talking about marriage prospects, and I mentioned one young man.

She hesitated, then told me “we don’t marry with this family.”

“Why not?” I asked her. “He’s handsome, and kind, and I am told that they are the richest family in Qatar.”

“They are Iranian,” she said shortly.

“Iranian?” I asked. “They are Qatteri! They have been here more than ten generations!”

She grinned at me.

“It’s not enough,” she said. “They are still Iranian.”

November 18, 2009 - Posted by | Cross Cultural, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Humor, Interconnected, Iran, Living Conditions, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Qatar, Relationships, Women's Issues


  1. The importance of heritage and family roots predates Islam in Arabia. Islam is opposed to the notion that people are placed in a hierarchy on the basis of family roots but these beliefs still exist today. It makes the circle of prospective suitors or wives even smaller than it already is.

    The problem is, as I understand it, it’s even healthier to marry people that differ from you genetically.

    Comment by 1001Nights | November 18, 2009 | Reply

  2. Hi,

    First time here, came via qatarfoodie.

    Intresting how this thing is there across cultures. How many generations and how much effort have to be spend for acceptance!

    Comment by S | November 18, 2009 | Reply

  3. looooooool in Lebanon there are also “Iranian” families, who came over (or back) to Lebanon in the 1800s.

    Is “Iranian” a code for “Shi`a” in her case, do you think? Or is it just that the family is foreign?

    Comment by adiamondinsunlight | November 18, 2009 | Reply

  4. This is quite true in Kuwait as well, you can find many people referred to as “Irani Kuwaitis”, sometimes this is also an indicator that they are Shia.

    Comment by Mathai | November 18, 2009 | Reply

  5. 1001 – You are right, genetic diversity strengthens a bloodline. On the other hand, when has logic or science ever influenced the mating process? It’s all emotion, tradition, and illogical!

    Of course, for us, 10 generations makes you a Daughter of the Revolution, or maybe a Daughter of the Mayflower, so never mind that few of our citizens descend from ancient landholders or warriors, no most of them were religious dissidents, people looking for a new start in life, people looking for a new life, people seeking to stay out of prison, etc.

    The second generation in my country starts intermarrying most of the time, even among the Chinese and the Japanese, who want to keep their children away from the round-eyes barbarians (us) the third generation often marry across racial lines.

    Welcome, S! I think the world is changing. It’s slow, but it’s changing.

    Little Diamond, sometimes it is a code for Shi’a, but not all Iranians are Shi’a, expecially those who left 10 generations ago, many were trading families of a variety of traditions. For a time, there were even Iranian Jews, and of course, Zoroastrians.

    Mathai – Even in Kuwait, not all the Irani families are Shia’a, but you are right, most of them are.

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 18, 2009 | Reply

  6. Family roots I think were used as a point of reference in the past. That is, the marriage was family arranged and the guy didn’t know the girl and vice versa so the best way to figure out whether or not the guy or girl was suitable was by seeing if he/she came from the same background. Nowadays people are a lot more individualistic and there are ways of finding out what the personality is about since it’s not considered that bad to have a long engagement process. Still, some people just think “I’m not here to change the world” so they just go with whatever is considered OK by the elders even if they don’t really see the point in it. No one wants to upset their parents and there is merit in that sentiment. Having said that, it’s very very sad when two people are perfectly suitable and yet not allowed to marry because of this.

    Comment by 1001 Nights | November 18, 2009 | Reply

  7. There was human life in Qatar more than 10 generations ago?

    Comment by Bu Yousef | November 18, 2009 | Reply

  8. lol same question as buyousef

    its sad that we still have people who are this shallow

    Comment by enigma | November 18, 2009 | Reply

  9. Family roots are fine, aren’t they, 1001, in terms of determining family culture and what a person wants for their future, but they don’t tell you much, as you say, about the individual. While MOST good trees bear good fruit, every now and then you find a rotten fruit, an anomaly . . .

    Bu Yousef – Aren’t a lot of Kuwaitis and Qatteris related?

    Enigma – I am so happy to see you. And we all have blind spots. I have a few. I bet you do, too. Every now and then I say to my husband “yes, Yes, I AM that shallow!”

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 19, 2009 | Reply

  10. Intlxpatr ;

    very touchy subject mixed marriage is .

    Usually for arranged marriages the same class of social standing rule is followed because it gives comfort to both families and now more so with massive wealth that is at stake ( How rich you are does figure into it quite alot ).

    There is always an exception to the rule when it comes to marrying out love and only when the female repeat the female wants to marry THAT BOY WHATS HIS FACE ,, then it may happen after a while if lucky , otherwise after years and years of suffering ,when at that time the man needs to go on viagra and woman on spanish fly to consummate their love

    Comment by daggero | November 19, 2009 | Reply

  11. Wow. Daggero, that is totally new information to me. The FEMALE can make it happen, if she is persistent and patient? That is fascinating. But what about the men who marry foreign women, for example, like totally outside the Kuwait social standing? Do most males in the wealthiest families do as their families say is best for the family interests? Or do they get to choose?

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 19, 2009 | Reply

  12. daggero, that’s a joke right? You mean if the girl refuses to get married and hits 43+ then her family doesn’t care who she marries?

    Intlxpatr, it all depends on the family and the person. There are no set rules really. But sometimes it feels like it is much easier to marry from outside the country than to marry into a different social group.

    Comment by G | November 20, 2009 | Reply

  13. Oh! OK. I can understand that – you step outside the rules, so to speak? Thanks, G.

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 20, 2009 | Reply

  14. Intlxpatr :

    Further more if a girl wants to marry someone and she insists and her folks do not want that, she can marry through a court case where it is up to the judge to decide suitability of the marriage ,I think the legal age for a female in Kuwait is 30 ,while the legal age for a male is 21.

    Again i say it is the exceptions , cross marriages out of love or through court cases .

    G ; i said in the beginning that mixed marriages are a touchy subject and if the girl insists on some person it will happen after long suffering unfortunately.

    The age is not 43+ because by the mid 30’s no one in the house will be able to talk any sense or non sense for that matter to the girl and there will be alot of remorse and regrets and re incrimination in the family to whom was the cause of the misery to the girl .


    Now a qualifier ; if the mixed marriage takes place in spite of opposition it may mean the complete cut off socially of the girl and her off springs like from scocial gatherings ,parties ,outings ,chalet, weddings ,gifts …etc , however her legal rights are preserved such as to the inheritance if there is any.

    So it is not an easy thing to embark on .

    May all live and marry in peace and happiness

    Comment by daggero | November 20, 2009 | Reply

  15. Wow. That is a heavy price to pay, to be excluded from the family gatherings. Does the exclusion ever soften? Can a woman “behave” her way into good graces, can her children win the grandparents affection over time?

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 20, 2009 | Reply

  16. Sure it happens , sometimes when a bigger disaster hits the family like sickness or death ,then the family rally together .In other cases when kind members of the family reach out and and try to mend the relationship between the girl and her family wasta .
    Time usually of the essence . Surprisingly the kids are treated nicely .

    Comment by daggero | November 21, 2009 | Reply

  17. 🙂 Daggero, as I read your comment, I think of stories I hear in our own culture. I guess families are families. We all have disagreements, and sometimes, if we are very lucky, those kind people intercede, or an event happens that puts perspectives on these resentments and grudges and hurt feelings, and make forgiveness and reconciliation possible.

    I remember one American woman married to a Kuwaiti who told me that she later learned that the woman who had been kindest to her when she came to Kuwait, who helped her learn the ropes, was the cousin for whom her husband had been intended. That is graciousness, indeed.

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 22, 2009 | Reply

  18. Everywhere people will always be beoble.
    It’s akin to saying no matter how many generations before you have called England home; you ain’t English enough if there is so much as even a hint of immigrant DNA running in you. Right or wrong is not for me to say but that’s the index of Englishness for most. And I suppose, it’s no different with the Kuwaitis and Qataris.

    Comment by The Argumentative Palestinian | November 22, 2009 | Reply

  19. LLOOLL, I know that’s you, BL.

    I think it is very funny when people explore their roots and get surprises. As you said – beoble are beoble, LLLOOOLLLL.

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 22, 2009 | Reply

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