Sign in Register
Posted On: 2 March 2023 01:32 pm
Updated On: 2 March 2023 01:33 pm

What you need to know about pearl diving in Qatar

Tracy Quirino
Tracy Quirino
Discuss here!
Start a discussion
Pearl diving cover image

Pearls are one of the most unparalleled beauties of the world, and they've existed in Qatar for quite a while! One of the oldest professions in the Gulf, pearl diving, is known to have significantly contributed to Qatar's modernization, history, and more.

Apart from knowing how to appreciate pearls, in this article, let the (ILQ) team let you in on interesting facts and more about pearl diving!

Pearl diving in Qatar

Pearl Diving in Qatar
Image credit: Shutterstock

During the early years of Qatar, pearl diving (along with trading) was one of the ways people made a living. Before the oil and gas industry boomed, Qataris were known to be diving for the gems in the ocean for months. The male members of many families would be out during the pearling season, which occurred during the summer. This is why you would notice that Qatar gives the nod to pearls through its many landmarks (such as the pearl sculpture at Corniche, The Pearl Island & Souq Al Wakrah).

Pearl diving is one of the oldest professions in Qatar, dating as far back as 4,600 BCE. Pearls from the Gulf were often traded to India, Persia and the Ottoman Empire. It wasn't until the early 1920s that many pearl divers opted out of the profession due to the discovery of oil and the introduction of Japanese artificial pearls.

Tip: Be sure to catch the short film on Pearl diving by award-winning director Mira Nair when you visit the National Museum of Qatar.

Qatari pearl divers

Pearl Diving in Qatar
Image credit: Kenneth Gell, Al Jazeera

Pearl diving is said to pose significant threats to divers. The pearl divers endure many obstacles, from the burning sun to the treacherous waters. Many men would stay in one ship cramped together for months. And during their dives, they would hold their breaths with the help of a nose peg for up to two minutes at a depth of up to 18 metres.

Nowadays, pearl divers may be rare to find. In Qatar, Al Jazeera reports that Mohammed Abdulla al-Sada is one of the few Qataris that still dives for pearls.

Where to buy pearls in Qatar

Pearl Diving in Qatar
Image credit: AP Photo

Historically, pearls gathered by pearl divers in Qatar were sold or traded through the local markets or souqs. To this day, Qatar's souqs - Souq Waqif and Souq Wakrah - offer high-quality pearls, and you can purchase them for your loved ones or yourself! But don't expect 100% authentic pearls; nowadays, these are hard to find and are most likely extremely expensive.

You could check out pearls at Pahlwan Saad Ismail Al Jassim – The old pearl diver Shop. He is recognized as the oldest surviving pearl diver in Qatar. Apart from pearls, you can also find jewellery made from precious and semi-precious stones.

  • Location: Shop Number 169, Building No 2, Souq Waqif, Doha
  • Contact: +974 5551 0897

Source: Al Jazeera, Qatar International Tours, Qatar Museums, Associated Press (AP)

Have you seen or touched a Qatari pearl? What can you say about Pearl diving in Qatar? Let us know in the comments below! Do share this article, too - it keeps us going!