All photos by Chantelle D’mello
Hundreds of people gathered at Katara Cultural Village yesterday to enjoy the fifth annual Dhow Festival, after the sleepy beachfront there was transformed into a slice of Qatar’s longstanding seafaring history.
The five-day long event offers residents a unique glimpse into old-school Qatari life, complete with dhows, pearl-divers and fishermen.
This year, some 100 dhows from various GCC countries are anchored at the Katara beach. Most hail from Qatar and include the Fath Al Khair 2, a large dhow that returned to Doha on Wednesday, following a historic 44-day long voyage to India.
The expedition took the team some 2,818km to the metropolitan city of Mumbai as part of a cross-cultural trip, where, despite rough waters and weather, the crew spent a week prior to their return to Qatar.
Other vessels include several smaller fishing and pearling dhows. On those, residents can watch divers shucking their daily haul of oysters, looking for pearls.
However, the region’s best pearl-divers will be busy offshore. During a three-day long contest, teams of divers from across the Gulf are competing for a grand prize of some QR200,000.
At last year’s event, winners Fateh Al Khair, a team from Bahrain, collected a massive 14,264 pearls during their three-day expedition, followed by the Leshkhairah team from Oman with 13,242 pearls.
In addition to pearls, other craftsmen like basketweavers and jewelry-makers also have goods on display.
The event also features a bustling gold and jewelry souq, offering residents looking to buy traditional Qatari designs in a wide range of choices.
The venue’s cultural village, a replica of smaller fishing villages of yore, also features several staples like a fish market, shacks selling freshly cooked fish and several other food stalls.
When Doha News visited yesterday, teams of men could be seen cooking large pots of rice over charcoal stoves, while women sat nearby, preparing crepes for an eager crowd of hungry children.
Teams of folkloric dancers and singers performed renditions of old songs set to the rhythm of beating drums, as a crowd cheered on.
The festival, which runs from 3 to 11pm tonight and from 9am to noon and 3 to 10pm tomorrow, is free and open to the public. See a detailed schedule of events here.