A slew of folkloric performances and cultural activities marked the opening of this year’s Traditional Dhow Festival at the Katara beach, highlighting Qatar’s rich maritime heritage.
Groups of local artistes from Qatar, Oman and Bahrain enthralled spectators and guests with their traditional songs and dances to the accompaniment of traditional music instruments.
The opening was graced by HE the Minister of Culture and Sports Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali, prominent Qatari entrepreneur HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani, Katara general manager Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, other dignitaries and embassy officials from various missions in Doha.
“The sixth edition of this festival is the fruit of its previous successful editions that were attended by huge crowds and participants,” Dr al-Sulaiti said.
What makes this year’s edition special, he noted, is the announcement of Fath al-Khair 3 voyage “as it revives the history of our ancestors in making a living.”
The senior Katara official also reiterated the importance of maritime heritage, which is an integral part of Qatar and neighbouring GCC countries.
Several stalls showcasing dozens of handmade miniature dhows of various sizes and designs, as well as other handicraft, serve as among the attractions at the festival.
Visitors also had the opportunity to taste authentic Arabic dishes and sweets cooked live in the traditional way.
Katara has been continuously promoting this tradition with the staging of the festival annually aimed at chronicling what was inherited by Qatar’s forefathers and ancestors.
The festival, under the patronage of HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, has included more competitions, participants and side events this year.
Ahmad al-Hitmi, head of the festival organising committee, echoed the statement of Dr al-Sulaiti describing this year’s programme as exceptional due to the launch of Fath al-Khair 3 and the staging of maritime activities and attractions such as the dhow loader (sail set), Al Nahma and sail installation.
With temperatures continuing to come down, visitors can try the daily boat trips while having some coffee or tea on board the dhows. They will also have the chance to watch some of the maritime tournaments such as rowing and diving, as well as two new contests of bringing down the dhow loader and Al Nahmah.
Other competitions like Al Naham and pearl diving will start Thursday according to Katara.
The festival will also start receiving groups of students from different international and national schools in the country on Wednesday as part of their educational field trip in the morning. It aims to raise awareness on the rich maritime legacy of Qatar and Gulf states among the youth.
Apart from the dhows docked at the Katara beach, students will also see live demonstrations of boat-making and fishnet-making, as well as the baskets used for catching fish and pearls.
A number of stalls are showcasing old collections and items such as television sets, alarm clocks, cameras, antique boxes, furniture and soda bottles, among others.
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