The Majlis

Lamya Gargash

Majlis: from the verb Jalasa, which means to sit, refers to that room in the house where social activities take place.


The Majlis could be divided into two different spaces one is it serves as a formal space in the house to entertain and receive guests; it is highly decorative and luxurious and utilized for entertainment purposes. The second serves as a less formal communal room serving as a gathering for men young and old, it is not as fancy but comfortable. Usually on the weekends men would gather and stay up till early hours of the morning socializing, eating, playing video games, smoking, reading …etc.


My concept is to document the various Majlises, visiting those of my family, friends and even strangers. The different quarters that I will be documenting will vary from simple, stylish, to extravagant and weird. Every room has an identity, which in return give the viewer an idea of the people residing in that house. A dedicated space for formal social events relates very much to our tradition of close kinship and family and also the notion of attending to one’s guest and being good hosts. Social ties in the UAE are strong and even though the Majlis has evolved from a room containing very simple settings to sofas and chandeliers it represents a part of our culture that we cannot separate from our lives. No native family in the UAE has a house without at least one Majlis, there are families that have segregated Majlises and there are those that have one used for both gender events.