The pulsating beat of Arabic drums and the melodic strains of oud set the mood as Katara opened its doors to the public for the first-ever Ramadan Festival yesterday night at the Katara beachfront.
The major aim of the festival is to promote awareness among Muslims and non-Muslims about the real essence of Ramadan, the various practices involved in the celebrations and how the faithful welcome the holy month, among others.
In addition, the festival also brings forth homegrown Qatari talent and promotes its native products.
“We are focusing on Qatari culture and talent. All the exhibitions, handicrafts, paintings and traditional ware has been made by Qataris. This is good exposure for them and I hope the public will like it,” said Malika Mohammed Al Shraim, public relations manager at Katara.
Katara is bustling with cultural events from 8pm till midnight until August 25 with over a dozen events at the three tents erected at the Katara beachfront especially for the events, but compared with other Ramadan tents, Al Oud, Al Misk and Al Rihan tents are unique in that they focus more on Qatari culture and traditions during Ramadan and not merely on entertainment.
A life-like camel, a desert majlis, a replica of the the Oyster in the Corniche — the most photographed structure in Qatar, falcon and fishing implements welcome every guest at the Al Rihan tent. The tent features a wide collection of commemorative stamps and coins by the Qatar Philatelic and Numismatic Club and paintings and artworks of Qatari artists at an exhibition by the Qatar Fine Arts Society and Visual Arts Centre.
The Al Oud tent, on the other hand, features the ‘Ramadaniyat’ exhibition of the Qatar Photographic Society which highlights common habits and practices in Qatar during this season, things reminiscent of Ramadan and Qatari cultural practices. Famous Qatari structures captured on lens by various Qatari photographers are also featured in the expo. They include Fanar, Museum of Islamic Art, Khalifa Stadium, the newly opened State Mosque, Aspire Tower and the breathtaking Doha skyline.
But most interesting is the Al Misk tent where Qatari tradition comes to life with live demonstrations by Qatari artisans.
Pearl diving, mat and carpet making, henna, sadu, gypsum carving, fishing, miniature dhow making, traditional food making and others are demonstrated by the artisans who interact with guests explaining the process involved in their crafts. Traditional Qatari clothes and perfumes are also sold and musical performances and talent shows presented in the tent.
The Ramadan spirit pervades in the air as fanooz, Arabian swords, geometric shapes and other motifs fill the walls and ceilings of all three tents.
Workshops are conducted in the tents such as mould and paint workshop; sand art; greeting card making; special Ramadan decorative banner, lantern and garland making; fun face mask workshop and doll making.
Other highlights of the three-week long festival are the Salon Al Adabi where cultural experts will share their ideas on culture and the Rekn Al Hezawi which features a Qatari traditional storyteller relating the history and tradition behind the Ramadan season.
People can also take a break at the Karak Corner where they can enjoy hot traditional drinks such as Arabic coffee, karak tea and traditional snacks.
Al Shraim said they wanted to invite the public on two very special events for children namely Garangao which will be held on August 14 and Khatma, a Qur’an reading competition.
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