Incensed over dress code regulations that prohibit those wearing thobes and abayas from attending the upcoming Russell Peters comedy show, several locals are urging residents not to attend the event.
UPDATE | 5:38pm
The event’s organizers have now retracted their earlier remarks about those in national attire being banned from the event, calling the prohibition a “misprint.”
A statement on their Facebook page reads:
“Please note in regards to recent comments on social media. We wanted to clarify that NATIONAL DRESS IS ALLOWED to the Russell Peters Event. We apologise but it states on the terms and conditions in english that no national dress is allowed, this was a mis-print for a previous event and as noted is does not say so in Arabic.
Last night, the comedian himself weighed in on the issue, saying:
— Russell Peters (@therealrussellp)
Peters, a renowned Canadian comedian, makes his Doha debut on Oct. 20 at the Sheraton. He has a wide fan base here because his humor highlights racial, ethnic, class and cultural stereotypes.
The controversy began when Qatar residents began tweeting a picture of the stipulations listed on the back of the show’s tickets, which include rules about a dress code:
“Please respect the local rules and regulations. No headgear of any kind. No National Dress.”
Iconic Qatar, which is organizing the event, confirmed in a statement to Doha News that the regulation is in place because alcohol will be served at the show.
Drinking alcohol is prohibited in Islam, and many observant Muslims who don’t imbibe also prefer to not be around people who are drinking.
According to the statement, women wearing hijab but not abaya would still be allowed in the event.
“This is the same rule that applies to every establishment that serves alcohol in Qatar. We apologize for the confusion.”
Other comedy shows, including Laughter Factory, which will be held at the Raddison Blu next week, also typically prohibit those in national dress from attending due to the presence of alcohol.
Women in headscarves were also reportedly turned away from Tom Jones last month for the same reason:
— Mohammed Al-Jufairi (@Halawala)
But the dress code policy is often unevenly enforced, and adding to the confusion is the fact that Qatari women were allowed to attend the Chris Tucker show at the Sheraton earlier this year year.
This afternoon, the hashtag #أرفض_حفل_راسل_بيترز (Boycott Russell Peters) has been gaining traction, with residents complaining about being left out of the event in their own country.
الاحتجاج الحقيقي والأمثل هو استقباله بالمطار عند قدومه بلوحات يفهمها بلغته أنه غير مرحب به في بلدنا #أرفض_حفل_راسل_بيترز— عيد سعيد مبارك (@Atsss99)
(“The ideal form of protest would be to greet him in the airport with banners and signs in a language he can understand stating that he’s not welcome in our town.”)
Iconic Qatar said refunds would be available to those who wanted them, at the place where they purchased their tickets (either the Sheraton or Crepaway).
But Hamad Al-Amari, a Qatari comedian, said that was besides the point. Speaking to Doha News, he said:
“It’s not about the refund, it’s the principle. You’re promoting this event that is just going to happen once. Why is it very important for alcohol to be sold? (Russell Peters) is from this region, he’s a familiar face to us. He’s hilarious. I want to laugh.”
Credit: Photo for illustrative purposes only by Simon Cocks