Qatar has a deep connection with the sea that goes back centuries. In the early days, pearl diving was a prominent profession in the country, and the divers used to go out into the vast sea on big boats known as dhows. The history of the dhow boat goes back as far as 600 BC.
Dhows are an important part of Qatari culture too. From using them for pearl diving back in the day to leisure rides, dhows have come a long way! Let's learn more about the magnificent boats in Qatar!
The word dhow originates from the Swahili language, which refers to a wooden vessel with masts and a triangular sail attached to it. Greek texts refer dhows back to 600 BC, and they flourished along the East African coast.
Back then, they were used for fishing, pearling and trading heavy goods. They are still used today in countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, parts of Arabia and East Africa.
Traditional dhows vary in size and include Jalibut which means small to medium-sized boats with a 2 person crew, Sambuq which is the largest type in the GCC with 1-2 masts with sails or a motor, Battil, which is a type of dhow with long stems topped by large, club-shaped stem heads, and Baqarah is a dhow that originated in India around 600 BC and was brought to the region by Omanis and Yemenis.
Traditional dhows are docked along Doha Corniche. The rates start anywhere from QR 20-25 per person and may vary if you're going as a group. Do showcase your bargaining skills if it's your first time on a dhow.
You can do the cruise any time of the day or night, but sunset time is something to check out to make the most of the golden-hour goodness!
Hop on one and enjoy the beautiful sea views; check out the Doha skyline, and don't forget to click some memorable pictures along the way!
Many tour operators in Qatar offer a variety of dhow tours, complete with a BBQ buffet, skyline tour and more! You could also rent out a dhow for a group of friends to celebrate an occasion.
Here are a few that are offering these private tours.
The Katara International Dhow Festival is held annually to celebrate Qatar's rich maritime heritage. The festival held at Katara Cultural Village has many activities for all ages, including marine shows, competitions, events showcasing folk history, paintings, shopping kiosks and more!
Senyar Festival is another event held in Qatar to showcase the country's maritime connection. This exciting pearl diving and fishing contest is done on traditional dhows.
Did you know we have a World Cup stadium whose design takes inspiration from the traditional dhow boats? The Al Janoub Stadium at Al Wakrah looks like the sails of a dhow and is inspired by Qatar's sea-faring past. How cool is that?
It was designed by the renowned late architect Zaha Hadid's firm.
Have you been on a dhow in Qatar? Did you like the experience? Do let us know in the comments below. Do share this article - it keeps us going!
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