The centuries-old Arab tradition of sailing the seas and pearl diving came alive yesterday as “The First Traditional Dhow Exhibition’’ was inaugurated at the Katara Cultural Village beach by the Deputy Premier and Emiri Diwan chairman HE Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah.
Two of the 60 dhows ranging in different sizes, shapes and styles, being showcased at the exhibition, are the oldest with a 120-year-old dhow from Bahrain and the second from Qatar aged 105 years.
Featuring alongside the oldest dhows are others that are newly built and as recent as 2010, and majority of them, which are lavishly furnished, are owned by Qataris.
The participating pearling ships from the GCC, which comprise about 14 different styles including ghangah, sanbuk, bateel, shusi, boum, abdini, jalbout and banush, are being provided long term maintenance by Katara, all of which contributes to its long term goal of nurturing local traditions.
Some of the traditional dhows being showcased at the event
Side attractions to the show include song rendition and dances reflecting the culture of various communities the fishing teams from each of the participating country have visited in their past voyages.
Also, on the sidelines of the exhibition were stalls offering for sale marine-themed arts and crafts including smaller versions of dhow, popularly preferred by Qataris as interior decorations.
Some Qatari women were also seen making traditional snacks and sweets and presenting it to visitors to the event. The five-day exhibition, is being organised to honour the traditional form of transportation across the shores of the Arabian Gulf, recognising the importance of the dhow in Qatari culture.
For the last 13 centuries, dhows were used as the main trading vessels sailing to India and East Africa and were commonly used by fishermen and pearl divers.
The event was also meant to educate and encourage young people to appreciate their roots and the way of life, long before they were born.
Speaking to mediapersons during the inauguration yesterday, Friends of the Environment Centre chairman and Qatar Foundation vice-president Dr Saif al-Hajri explained that pearl diving was an important tradition and age-long practice among people of the region as their lives revolve around marine life.“I’ll encourage young people to visit the exhibition as it tells them a lot about their past as it is important for them to have a clear understanding of where they are coming from, which is an important element for their vision for the future,” he said.
Al-Hajri also urged youth to take the advantage of the event to record history for the sake of the future, apart from making efforts to participate in pearl diving.
“Youth should see pearl diving both as fun and sports through which they can acquire skills they might need in the future, as sea life will remain part of them forever,” he suggested.
The timing of the exhibition, which runs until November 19 is 9am-12pm and 3pm-10pm.