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Posted On: 25 November 2018 01:30 pm
Updated On: 8 May 2023 04:16 pm

Fascinating facts about dhows in Qatar

Vrinda Abilash
Vrinda Abilash
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Dhow facts doha

The feeling of riding on a dhow with the sea breeze blowing is unmatched. The dhow is an integral part of Qatari culture, and before the oil era, it was mainly used for pearl diving, fishing and transporting goods. Today, to keep those traditions alive, the ancient boats still serve the people of Qatar, keeping in touch with its maritime heritage.

You'll spot dhows tied up all along the Corniche in Doha, and here are some interesting facts to know about these majestic boats! Let's go!

The word's origin

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The origin of the word dhow is from the Swahili language. It refers to a wooden vessel with masts and a triangular sail attached. Did you know Greek texts refer dhows back to 600 BC? Back then, they were used for fishing, pearling and trading heavy goods. Today, you can find countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, parts of Arabia and East Africa using these boats.

Dhows vary in size

dhow history
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Traditionally, the dhows vary in size and have names after their sizes.

  • Jalibut means small to medium-sized boats with a 2 person crew.
  • Sambuq, the most significant type in the GCC, has 1-2 masts with sails or a motor.
  • Battil is a type of dhow with long stems topped by large, club-shaped stem heads.
  • Baqarah is a dhow that originated in India around 600 BC and was brought to the region by Omanis and Yemenis.

The time taken to build a dhow

dhow qatar
Image credit: Qatar Creates

Did you know a dhow can sometimes take up to 2 years to build? Yes, that's right. It depends on the size and the materials used for the dhows, but it typically, on average, takes 9 months to build a dhow. Dhows are made of wood and other durable materials.

A dhow's legacy

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A dhow, once finished can last up to 120 years with proper maintenance and can be passed down through generations of fishing and diving families!

How much does a dhow cost?

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Image credit: Shutterstock

A traditional dhow costs anywhere between QR 1-4 million.

Repair & maintenance

Dhow Boat
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Like any vehicle, a dhow also requires regular servicing and maintenance. For the dhow to be repaired, it must be taken out of the water, and it can sometimes take 3 months to complete the repairs.

How are leaks prevented on a dhow? Cotton mixed with coconut oil is stuffed between the timbers to avoid leaks in dhows.

The dhow as a symbol

Qatar Central Bank
Image credit: Qatar Central Bank

Dhows have a profound connection with the country, and to honour that fact and Qatar's maritime connection through the years, the image of a traditional dhow is featured on the 5th edition of the QR 1 note.

Stadium inspired by the dhow

How to get to the World Cup 2022 stadiums
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In Qatar, we have a World Cup stadium whose design takes inspiration from the dhow boats. The Al Janoub Stadium at Al Wakrah is a must-see, and you will understand why! The top of the stadium looked like the sails of a dhow and was designed by architect Zaha Hadid's firm.

Dhow events in Qatar

Dhow Boat
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Did you know there are events in Qatar dedicated to dhows every year?

The Katara International Dhow Festival and the Senyar Festival are some events where you can learn more about dhows.

Where can you ride a dhow in Qatar

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You can find many dhows docked along the Corniche in Doha and hire a ride for as low as QR 20. Do bargain a little if it is your first time on one!

You can also go on a private tour via an agency like 365 Adventures or Qatar International Tours.

Check out our QTip on dhows!

RELATED: What you need to know about dhows in Qatar

Have you been on a dhow before? Did you know these facts about dhows? Which point fascinated you the most? Let us know in the comments below. Do share this article - it keeps us going!