Majlis – meaning “place of sitting” in Arabic - is the traditional community salon that sheikhs and tribal chiefs regularly hold to meet with other members of society, both prominent individuals and ordinary citizens. These gatherings are considered an opportunity to air grievances, discuss public demands, highlight issues of importance to the community and reflect popular sentiment regarding various matters. Similarly, in the Gulf, the wives of tribal leaders play a similarly important role in meeting with female citizens so that their concerns are aired. The informal ambience in the majlis, similar to Town Hall meetings in the US, allows visitors to discuss matters in a relaxed manner.

In this tradition, that spans centuries, not only the rulers and tribal chiefs but also most homes in the Gulf have a Majlis, where the head of the family hosts guests. It is a place, to chat about the daily issues of life, politics and society over Arabic tea and coffee. Traditions are carried forward in majlises, Gulf dialect is preserved, customs such as Arabian hospitality and respect for the elders are upheld and thus by preserving the tradition of majlises, Gulf societies can advance and modernise while preserving their identities. Despite economic development and globalisation, the design of the Majlis has remained much the same with a few modern twists that reflect the fusion between the Arab and the western world.

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