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Chai Karak: The Politics of Tea and the Coloniality of Appropriation in the UAE

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submitted on 2023-05-11, 12:55 and posted on 2023-05-14, 04:55 authored by Abdulla Moaswes

Chai karak is a popular tea beverage in in the UAE and the other Arab Gulf states that is widely consumed across class and ethnic lines, particularly among wealthy UAE citizens and the poorer South Asian manual labourers who make up a large proportion of the country’s population—also often thought of as the group that brought the beverage to the UAE. This study primarily aims to understand the effects of Emirati claims of ownership over chai karak in terms of its political and socioeconomic impact. It does this through an analysis of analogous case studies and a series of interviews with chai karak vendors in the UAE. This methodology explored the item’s position with regard to three main research areas: the relationships produced by claims of its ownership, their impact on the political and socioeconomic status of South Asians in the cafeteria industry, and what the ensuant contestations show about the UAE’s wider social relations. The study concludes that the discourse of ownership produced around chai karak resembles those produced as a result of colonial relationships. In this UAE, this creates a form of consent-based hegemony that acts alongside other mechanisms of maintaining the privilege of citizens of the country.

Other Information

Published in: Social Change and Transformation in the Gulf Region
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  • English


Springer Singapore

Publication Year

  • 2023

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Institution affiliated with

  • Qatar National Library

Geographic coverage

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States

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