Recently, while trying to make a booking for a hotel, I was unable to find Qatar in the list of options for country of residence. When I called the customer service number of this particular website, they told me to select the UAE country option in the menu.
Selecting the UAE did in fact allow my reservation to be processed, despite the fact that Qatar is not, nor never has been, part of the United Arab Emirates.
The customer service person did not seem too interested in my feedback. Based in the UK, I assume all of us Gulf states strike him the same.
This is a problem I often have when talking about Doha with people in North America as well.
“How is life in Dubai?” someone asked me at my dissertation defense.
“Well, I live in Doha,” I replied.
Perhaps it’s not a stigma of the Gulf alone, since I remember having simliar conversations after moving to Pittsburgh, PA.
“How do you like Philadelphia?” friends would ask.
People must shift to the register they know the best – hence the Dubai/Philadelphia mix ups.
But I’m pretty sure no one was ever told to pick Philly when they wanted the Burgh on a travel site.
I can understand
I know the same kinds of confusion occur when people make reference to African countries, that is, if the fact that Africa is not a country is acknowledged first, before we move into the finer details of the Zimbabwes, Malawis and Ghanas.
Well, as a writer you could find such things inspiring. Congrats for your story at SNReview. Pay us a visit at Munyori Poetry Journal sometime.
Re: I can understand
Yes, the idea of “Africa” as a monolith is something that is really frustrating. I recently started work in Mauritania and I can’t tell you even the number of educated people who had no idea where that was.
At least we are helping in our own small ways! Thanks for the link. I will certainly check it out.