Qatar Museums (QM) has partnered with local and international organisations to undertake a comprehensive study on Qatar’s marine features and underwater archaeology.
Under the patronage of its chairperson, HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the research project is in collaboration with Qatar University (QU), York University, a highly established organisation in the field of marine research, and Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism.
It will run for nearly five years starting in the middle of this year.
According to QM, the project will see a team of local and international marine archaeology experts exploring the archaeological characteristics of Qatar’s underwater environment.
QM said it will also invite relevant community members such as Qatari divers to take part and have the chance to experience and benefit from this significant social and scientific project.
Several workshops and training programmes will be organised in collaboration with local schools and universities.
QM aims to explore Qatar’s underwater environment to help reveal and understand how its marine history has contributed to the country’s social and economic behaviours.
QM expects that this study will make new discoveries that will reveal many hidden secrets from the bottom of the sea, which was the region’s first source of income and a major route for commercial vessels.
“This project perfectly reflects the leading role that QM is playing in protecting and promoting Qatar’s heritage,” said QM chief executive Mansour bin Ebrahim al-Mahmoud, who is also Special Adviser to HE the QM Chairperson, as he described the importance of this project.
He highlighted the uniqueness of the project, which is looking at underwater archaeological sites instead of the usual on-land sites.
QM continues to support collaboration with high-calibre institutions such as York University and QU, to help encourage knowledge transfer, according to al-Mahmoud.
Describing the benefits of the project, the senior QM official said this study will help provide information and images of Qatar’s underwater ecosystem.
“It will build capabilities for those who are interested in working in the underwater archaeological field, as it will contribute to world-class educational programmes,” he noted, adding that it will shed light on Qatar and the region’s history, and “on the habits and traditions of our ancestors”.
“Our experts at QU, with their scientific capabilities and deep knowledge of Qatar’s history and heritage, are able to support this unique project to comprehensively research Qatar’s underwater archaeology,” said QU president Dr Hassan bin Rashid al-Derham.
“The project will also enable us to find out more on Qatar’s marine environment, exploring an important aspect of the lifestyle of our ancestors, especially their connection to the sea, which they loved so much,” he noted.
Al-Derham added: “Over the years, our QU Research Vessel ‘Janan’ has played an important role in conducting studies on the marine environment in Qatar.
“We expect this five-year project to be of great value to researchers and students.
“It will also be a strong addition to Qatar’s heritage.”
The final report of this research study will include recordings on all the underwater archaeological sites in Qatar, with their locations, access limits, and benefits.
This will help build a foundation for studies on Qatar’s marine history and underwater archaeology.
The findings of this study will also lead to establishing a digital archive on underwater cultural heritage sites, by carefully mapping the sites, using the most advanced remote sensor technology.
This will help establish a digital library on underwater heritage sites and will support the development of marine heritage tourism.
Besides the heritage aspect, the study will also provide information related to the nature of current marine life in Qatar’s sea.
This includes the distribution of coral reefs, identifying the most important fish and shells, as well as detecting the breeding and fishing seasons.