Traditional Qatari names like Fahad, Fitais and Smaikh are giving way to Rahaf, Lamis, Mohanad, Teem, Gharam and Asmahan, thanks to characters in popular TV soap operas.
Figures from the Births Registration Department show the trend in naming babies in Qatar is witnessing a major change.
“Traditionally Qataris used to name their children after their parents and relatives. But it seems that parents have been impressed by the famous characters in some recent Turkish and Arab soap operas and started to name their newborns Mohanad, Lamis, Rahaf who were very famous characters in the series. Even some tribes started to choose from these new names,” Zekrayat al-Mohannadi, the head of the Births Registration Department at the Ministry of Public Health, told Gulf Times.
According to a list of names given to newborns last year, Rahaf (niceness) was chosen for 60 girls, while 84 were named Lamis (soft).
“When you go through the records, you will find that these new names account for 25% of the names currently used by parents,” al-Mohannadi said.
Politics of the region has also been an element affecting the parents’ decision when it comes to naming their babies, al-Mohannadi added.
“After the death of Egypt’s former president Jamal Abdul Nasser in the 1970s, both Jamal and Nasser names were the fashion. The same happened with the former Iraq’s president Saddam Hussain when he was executed. Many Qataris are still naming their children after the late president’s first name,” she said.
Also, with the appearance of HE Sheikha al-Mayassa bint Hamad al-Thani in public life, her name gained huge popularity among Qataris.
“During 2008, al-Mayassa topped the list of names with parents using it for their babies for 142 times,” she said.
The same happened with the name Tamim when HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani became Heir Apparent.
Asked about the traditional names which are still in fashion, the official said both Hamad and Jassim had resisted the new wave even though they are traditional names.
“The two names are still appealing to parents. They have survived the new wave of baby-naming trends”.
About baby-naming trends among foreigners, the official said that many of the non-Arab expatriates used to give their children born here Qatari names such as Hamad and Fahad.
“One Filipino has recently named his daughter ‘Hanin Qatar’ to express his love for Qatar. There are many foreigners who try even to get a copy of their babies’ birth certificate in Arabic to remind them of Qatar. There many other Filipino and Pakistanis who named their children Hamad,” she said.
She said Sudanese and Pakistani expatriates gave their children names showing piety and devoutness.
“Pakistani expatriates usually use Allah’s name as part of the names of their children like ‘Assad Allah’ [lion of God], ‘Habib Allah’ [a person whom God likes] for males, while Sudanese use names like ‘Minat Allah’ [blessing of God) and Sujood [prostration] for females,” she added.
“Cultural barriers have been removed especially with those expatriates who have been here for a long time. I noticed that many expatriates named their children after the name of their sponsor like Fahad and Faisal,” she added.
To a question if any names are banned by the department, the official said her department did not get any instruction banning the use of any specific names.
“I remember only once when a parent tried to give his boy the title ‘His Highness’ as a name. The name was rejected and the father was asked to choose another name,” she added.
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