I was fortunate to receive a picture from a colleague showing a bird handler with his falcon. This single picture is quite revealing.
First, the falcon itself is a highly revered bird here in Qatar. There is an entire souk (market) devoted to the buying and selling of falcons. The asking price is in the 10’s of thousands. Qatar Airways – the national airline – has special rules for the transport of falcons on their planes. The bird gets its own seat. Many young boys have falcons as pets. Dogs and cats just aren’t part of the mix. The falcon as a symbol is used in much architectural imagery and official publications.
Second, the bird handler is wearing his winter clothes. The thobe (robe/dress) he is wearing is not white. As the weather has been cooling, the transition to the heavier weight, brown thobe is happening. His gutra – the head gear – is fashionably red-checkered. By allowing the right hand side to drape behind his shoulder instead of in front of it, by using the red check instead of white, he is demonstrating his personal style.
I learn more about this traditional clothing all the time. What I can say is that the fabric in the fabric stores is absolutely beautiful and of very high quality – especially the blacks for the abayas and the whites for the thobes. You will never see as much variation in pure white and pure black until you’ve been to the Middle East!