According to archaeological evidences, Qatar's history goes back to nearly 4000 years BC, and today we are seeing a joint effort by all in the country to uphold, celebrate and promote Qatar's rich culture and heritage.
This can be verified by the transformation the old souqs have gone through and today are once again full of life and bustling. Many traditional buildings and architecture of Qatar have been renovated, including many mosques in Doha. Apart from this, more and more Qataris are setting up traditional businesses promoting local culture. through the efforts of Qatar Foundation (QF), Qatar Museums (QM) and the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the public can learn more about Qatar, its history and more.
Here are some of the things that come in mind when you think of the amazing country of Qatar!
Pearl fishing is a great aspect of the State of Qatar’s past. You will definitely see the traces of it everywhere even though the villages in the north of Qatar have long been deserted. Some of the tools used by the divers were the scuttle, Al-futam, Al-falakah and dense stones that were often tied to the diver's waist or legs for a faster decent into the vast ocean's seabeds. You can visit the museum at Al Zubarah Fort to know all about pearl diving, see the different equipment used and the fishing nets. While visiting Souq Waqif, do not forget to go to Pahlwan Saad Ismail Al Jassim – The old pearl diver's shop. This shop is owned by probably the only surviving pearl diver in Qatar!
As we all know, Arabic is the official and main language in Qatar. English is widely spoken in every part of the country too. If you wish to learn the language, Al Sheikh Abdullah bin Zaid Al-Mahmoud Islamic Cultural Center is a popular choice with many courses running at different levels apart from the many other places that teach the language.
Disclaimer: Please call and check for the dates and timings of the classes before enrollment.
Qatar's past involved many geometric designs, calligraphy and etchings, that proved that this land was inhabited by many creative people. Today, more abstract art, with inspiration from the country's history, culture and traditions can be seen. For example, the work of Qatari artist Yousef Ahmad spans three decades!
Today, Qatar Museums is supporting many local artists, giving them a global platform to showcase their works.
Qatari songs have been handed down from generation to generation. Music plays an important role in the lives of Qataris even today.
Percussion is the basis of Qatari music. A musical instrument called the galahs was used by fishermen. Tus or tasat were tin drinking cups, and the tabl, is a drum which is used with sticks beating on animal skin at both the ends of the instrument.
The other Qatari instruments and strings include the oud, and the tar. Learn about the different music instruments of Qatar in the video below.
Traditional Qatari music culture is derived from Bedouin poetry, song and dance. Bedouin poetry in the olden days, was a great representation os the literary prowess and grip on the beautiful Arabic language.
Most Qataris wear National dress in public. Men wear a white full-length thobe with and headdress or ghitra as part of the ensemble. Women wear the black abaya with a headscarf shayla, and the full headdress burka is worn by some women.
Traditional Qatari handicrafts handed down through the generations, reflect the creativeness, the peculiar designs inspired from the region and the happenings around it.
Shipbuilding was an important industry for centuries in Qatar and the Gulf region. Teak and pine were imported from India in the olden days for their water-resistant nature, to build the boats. Know all about the dhows in Qatar in the video below.
Al Sadu is the traditional craft of hand spinning and weaving and is practised even today in Bedouin desert communities. Wool from sheep, camel and goat is used in this weaving
This is traditionally a woman's activity and tools like the spindle, Al-minshazah are used. Sadu such as Al-Katea, Al-Odul and As-sakayef, include tents and other Bedouin decorations.
Goldsmithery and pearl an precious stone trading was common in Qatar.
Perfume and incense are a sign of hospitality in Qatari homes. Arabic incense is called Buhkoor and perfume is called 'Itir. Incense burners are also placed to air clothes. Learn more about them from the video below.
The Falcon is the National bird of Qatar. Falconry remains an immensely popular sport and hobby here in the country and throughout the other Gulf nations too. Falconry skills are handed down from one generation to another and each owner develops his own style and technique in the sport.
The sport is highly competitive and is popular in Qatar from October through to March. The best place to see falcons is Souq Waqif. There is also a dedicated Falcon hospital in Souq Waqif that provides high-quality care for these magnificent creatures.
Qatar's purebred Arabian horse, known as the Aseel, has been bred and is extremely valued for its courage and speed by the Bedouin. Qatar regularly hosts prestigious races open to locally-bred horses, and an annual international horse show which attracts the finest in the world. Qatar's Al Shaqab, a member of Qatar Foundation is a world-class equestrian centre, setting the highest standards in horse welfare, breeding, equine education and research.
Camels have been extensively used by the Bedouin tribes from time immemorial. They were extensively used to carry tents, people and the Bedouins used to weave fabric from their hair. The camels seen wandering the desert today are mostly owned by people and are marked with brands to identify them called wasm.
Camel racing is a hugely popular sport in Qatar and is a must-attend if you can. Camel races are held regularly at the Al Shahaniya track, both local races and an annual competition for other GCC competitors.
Qatar’s old architecture is a mix of souqs, mosques, Islamic architecture and other traditional buildings. They were designed keeping in mind the the country’s topography, climate and the materials available at the time.
Today, Qatar is full of skyscrapers and has some of the most beautiful structures in the world!
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