A row has erupted between parents at prestigious British school Sherborne Qatar over the last-minute cancelation of a school fundraiser due to the sale of alcohol at the adults-only event.
Hours before the preparatory school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) “Murder Mystery” dinner was set to take place on June 13 at Doha’s Golf Club, Sherborne called off the event over complaints from Muslim parents who were upset about the presence of a licensed bar.
A murder mystery dinner is a theatrical event where diners are invited to solve a mystery as they eat and watch a play.
“The actors had spent weeks rehearsing, all the food had been bought, everything was ready,” one father told us, requesting anonymity. “The school told the PTA to cancel the event after the SEC saw a report about it in an Arabic paper. There are lots of very upset parents and very damaged relationships at the school now.”
Sherborne Qatar’s Preparatory School Headmaster Nick Prowse declined to comment on the cancellation of the PTA event.
Sherborne Qatar is a sister school of Sherborne School in Dorset, one of the UK’s premier private schools.
Parents on both sides of the debate have also expressed dismay over inaccurate coverage in Qatar’s Arabic and English-language newspapers.
The Peninsula, for example, reported that the dinner was a “farewell event for students at a hotel,” though it was actually an evening for adults over the age of 21 at the Golf Club.
“Whoever leaked that knew that it was wrong – as the event had been prominently advertised,” the father who requested anonymity said. “A whole load of people have been accused very publicly of being sinful, and not being responsible around children. None of us want that label.”
Speaking to Doha News, a Muslim parent said she raised her concerns about the event with school authorities – but not with the SEC. The parent, who also asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, told us that she and other parents felt excluded when they heard about the night:
“We really feel upset about the fallout and all the negative coverage, especially that it included falsified and misleading info. However, all this turmoil in the Qatari media could have been avoided if parents from all backgrounds, religions and nationalities were heard and included.
Having a parents’ event with an alcohol bar does not adhere with the idea of a diversified international school event in Qatar. We do acknowledge the fact that this is a British school, but having such an event is not part of the “British curriculum” as far as we’re concerned.”
This is not the first time cultural issues have led to misunderstandings in Qatar’s private schools.
Last year, a row blew up after the local press published reports suggesting that a Muslim girl had been banned from Compass International School for wearing a hijab. The school insisted this was not the case.
Here’s the application form which was sent out to parents (personal contact details for PTA members have been removed for privacy reasons):
Credit: Photo by Tinou Bao