While the skyline on Al Corniche looks monochromatic during daytime, it transforms into a lively sight at night with the lit buildings and the colourful wooden boats. These boats are called Dhows, the traditional vessels used in the early times for livelihood, long before the rise of oil and gas in Qatar.
Dhow is the generic name for a number of traditional sailing vessels with one or more masts with lateen sails used in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean region. Historians claim the dhow was invented by Arabs or Indians. Typically sporting long thin hulls, dhows were trading vessels primarily used to carry heavy items, like fruit, fresh water or merchandise, along the coasts of the Arab countries, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and East Africa. Larger dhows have crews of approximately 30, smaller ones typically around 12.
It can take a year to build an average dhow which can cost from QAR500,000 to QAR1 million. The dhow was known for two distinctive features. First of all, its triangular or lateen sail, and secondly, for its stitched construction. Stitched boats were made by sewing the hull boards together with fibres, cords or thongs.
Keeping the Heritage
Locals still preserve the Dhow culture by celebrating the different festivals every year, to commemorate the heritage and honour the dhow sailors. Katara hosts the annual Dhow Festival – a display of beautifully crafted dhows from different parts of the Gulf region, Senyar Competition – a contest to recognise the best fishermen and pearl divers of modern times and the Fath Al Khair – a 27-day journey using the massive Amiri dhow that cruises to different shores.
Inbound tour companies are offering Dhow Cruise as one of the signature fun activities to do in Qatar. Ideally for a group of 20 to 30 people, each trip lasts for four to five hours. It starts from the Dhow port on Al Corniche (big pearl entrance). Host usually serves Arabic barbecue meal to get the real feel of the traditional activity. Each dhow boat features an upper deck, a good level to view the Doha skyline and the Museum perspective as it sails to Al Safliya Island where you can jump onto the water and enjoy swimming or snorkelling. It’s a standard requirement for dhows to be equipped with life jackets for all passengers and toilets. Some boats have air-conditioned cabins for those who prefer to stay out of the sun. Trips can also be customised by adding banana boat or jet ski.
Arabian Adventures Qatar
Contact: 4436 1461
Price: QAR 220 per person inclusive of meals
Minimum of 20 pax
Qatar International Adventures
Contact: 4455 3954
Price: QAR 230 per person inclusive of meals
Minimum of 15 pax
Have a romantic dinner for two on a sunset cruise or a sail away with a great buffet and good friends aboard one of our traditional Arabian dhows. Our onboard chef can prepare a choice of Arabic and international dishes, and we’ll personalise the experience just for you, including live music and personal butler service.
‘The Dhow’ is not available this season, but you can call Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels for enquiries or early reservations: 4433 6666 / email firstname.lastname@example.org
As an alternative to the proper dhow cruise, small colourful dhows are available for a 10- to 20-minute trip if you want to admire the skyline from the water. This costs around QAR 20 to QAR 50 per person, depending on the number of passengers.
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