As the festivities continues, visitors of Katara’s 5th Traditional Dhow Festival have enjoyed the wonderful traditional atmosphere on the esplanade of Katara. Folkloric games and competitions that resemble the old days of Qatar and Gulf states, which are known to the older generations, grabbed a significant turn out of visitors.
On the occasion, Mubarak Rashed Al Hajri, a member of the organising committee of Katara’s Traditional Dhow Festival, said:
This cultural part is dedicated for children aged between 6 and 12. It aims at keeping the authentic customs and traditions within the minds of current generations, reviving them in the minds of our children, and protecting them from extinction.’
Al Hajri pointed that ‘sea and land’ is the focus of the competition. To illustrate, a line is drawn on the ground and the direction of the sea and the direction of the land are identified. Those who can move to any of the two directions upon the referee’s mark, will be the winner. The game requires children to be fit and smart to win.
In the ‘head, tummy and legs’ game, participants are asked to form a line and they need to touch the body part required. The fastest wins. This also requires quick thinking and body coordination.
Al Hajri also commented to ‘the skipping rope’ competition among three children. This is in addition to the ‘Thanking’ activity that used to be held when a child completes reciting the whole Holy Quran, and was highly appreciated by visitors.
The cultural and folkloric handicrafts of the maritime heritage have been present in Katara’s Traditional Dhow Festival. The amazing skills and creativity of the craftsmen were highlighted as they are able to manufacture such products. Some of the notable crafts made is the Qaraqeer – an oval-shaped cage made from palm trees, with a flat bottom and a top opening that allows fish to enter the cage and stay there. A weight or rock is attached to the bottom of the cage so it sinks down in the seabed. A hook is then attached to the top part, so the fisherman can easily find it once he returns to collect the fish.
The handicrafts market has also included the blacksmith profession in the booth of Ibn Imran & Sons black-smithery. This booth is from the Kingdom of Bahrain, where nails are made for building sailing boats and traditional dhows. In addition to that are the hardware used in construction, agriculture, and household needs. Blacksmiths make axes, oysters splitters, tongues, and sickles that are used for lawn mowing and palm trees pruning. They also make latches and door bells that are now used as antique products as indoor decorations to the house. Other products made by blacksmiths are inscription tools, knives, chains, rakes, and others.
One of the major booths of the festival is Amara booth, which is being supervised by the ship captain Hassan Issa Al Kaabi. The shop sells all the needs of fishermen and sailors, such as tools and hardware for maintaining and building ships. In addition to that, the shop keeps tools used by pearl divers. This booth represents all what was needed by ancestors. The word ‘Amara’ is used for all shops that sell the needs of sailors in their pearl diving adventures.
Also on the festival, world-renowned free diver Martin Stepanek delivered a lecture on Katara Beach on Wednesday, a record-holder in the sport of free diving and highly sought out expert; spoke to a large crowd gathered along the beach about not only his explorations but also more specifically the ins and outs of free diving.
With his back to the coast where many have free-dived for centuries, Stepanek was clear in his adoration for the history of the sport and its origins in the State of Qatar.
I am pleased and honoured to give a presentation at Katara. Qatar is a unique place for free diving as the practice has existed here since the 1700s. The pearls, which were the prize for the diving during this formative period, have been around for centuries.’
He went on to provide attendees with an overview of the sport, the importance of the ocean and how to safely approach free diving.
The mammalian diving reflex is a maneuver which mammals employ to maximise breathing potential when underwater. Stepanek’s efforts to educate the crowd on free diving safety were strengthened by detailing exactly what the reflex is yet also sharing what goes into learning it properly, a process which supports both safety and fitness.
It took us millennia to understand our bodies as it relates to free diving. And only in the last two decades have we begun to understand the sport. The mammalian diving reflex allows us to hold our breath and dive longer. This discovery led to competitive free diving.’
‘Lots of mysteries surround free diving but it is not just for super humans and daredevils. It’s a fitness builder and supports health. I admire the history of Qatar and the relationship this country has with a sport I care so much about.’
Have you been to the 5th Katara Traditional Dhow Festival? Get the details on Marhaba Events Calendar.