Katara Dhow Festival 2014 HH The Father EMir and Children
HH The Father Emir Sheikd Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani walking with his sons and other officials including Katara General Manager, Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim Al Sulaiti. HH attends the Katara Dhow Festival every year.

With 40,330 visitors participating in the fourth Traditional Dhow Festival’s opening day, Katara, on Wednesday 18 November 2014 continued its celebration of Qatar’s maritime heritage by launching three of the festival’s competitions, alongside a wide range of cultural events and activities.

Wednesday also witnessed the first visit for 600 students from different schools, who learned about Qatar maritime heritage and got introduced to the festival’s pavilions and workshops. The students also went on a sailing cruise that sailed off the Katara beach.

Another first-time happening in this year’s festival is the restoration of a mid-sea archaeological site, where the audience will go on a cruise and witness the restoration process first-hand, which will be carried out by an expert Qatari team, specialised in maritime heritage. The event will take place on Thursday, the festival’s third of five days. Starting on Thursday, the festival will also feature ‘Al Dashah’ event; a traditional celebration held in the old days when sailors entered the sea, heading to the diving vessels before launching them into the pearl banks (Al Hayrat). Moreover, ‘Al Qafal’ heritage festival, which embodies the return of the divers to their homeland, will take place on Saturday, with the conclusion of the Traditional Dhow Festival.

A festival daily will see a number of folk groups perform their signature songs on Katara’s beach. On the opening day, the bands’ old-time chants had the audience circling around the performers, admiring the region’s ancient customs.

While visitors took part in the daily cruise, the festival’s Operetta, ‘Al Tabaa’ (The Edition), continued to draw crowds, telling the tales of Qatar’s maritime heritage, which took place in 1925, when the pearl-diving boats sank in the waters of the Arabian Gulf after being exposed to a strong cyclone and heavy rains.

Katara Dhow Festival 2014
seamen’s chanting

The festival’s dive trip, which mimicked the rituals of pearl diving, had the beach guests engaged, with a group of young visitors dancing along to the seamen’s chanting. The diving demonstration took spectators to the early 20th century’s GCC, as they watched a full crew on board a traditional diving vessel, with tools they used to dive into the depths of the sea to extract oysters and pearls. A nearby Qatari dhow’s crew was also performing a regular boat maintenance job for the visitors.

Katara’s beach had a number of craftsmen perform live demonstration of their maritime professions as well, including sail-sewing, net-making, smithing and ship building. Artists on the beach were also painting a number of maritime landscapes and sights, in front of a live audience.

The number of Majlises (traditional seating areas) spread across the seashore attracted many of the festival’s visitors. Men dressed in traditional costumes served tea and coffee to guests, who were engaged in conversation. Some Majlis guest found the leisure to participate in board games while listening to folk music, played by a Bahraini live band on the beach. Many visitors also found the celebrations to be an opportunity to practice their hobby of photography, bringing along professional camera and equipment as well as smart phones to take snapshots and shoot video clips of the festival’s activities.

The festival’s dive trip, which mimicked the rituals of pearl diving, had the beach guests engaged, with a group of young visitors dancing along to the seamen’s chanting. The diving demonstration took spectators to the early 20th century’s GCC, as they watched a full crew on board a traditional diving vessel, with tools they used to dive into the depths of the sea to extract oysters and pearls. A nearby Qatari dhow’s crew was also performing a regular boat maintenance job for the visitors.

Katara’s beach had a number of craftsmen perform live demonstration of their maritime professions as well, including sail-sewing, net-making and ship building. Artists on the beach were also painting a number of maritime landscapes and sights, in front of a live audience.

Katara Dhow Festival
Oman representation at the Katara Dhow Festival

An integral part of the festival, maritime competitions kicked off on Wednesday. Oman dominated the Rowing competition, with the country’s teams securing the first four places. The Omani Ambassador crowned the first three teams, in a special ceremony held after the competition. While Oman had a strong presence in the festival’s Free Diving competition, securing three of the 14 spots qualified for the contest’s next stages, including Kuwait’s Khalid al Ansari, Saudi Arabia’s Ahmed Eidoo and Qatar’s Abdullah Omar. Qatar and Saudi Arabia secured the highest number of spots in the qualifications (four each) and Bahrain was one spot shy of Oman’s three qualified contestants.

As for the Traditional Sailing contest, Raslan team won the first place. Al Khor team came second in the competition, with Zelzal team and Al Mafeer team securing the third and fourth places respectively.

For more pictures of the Katara 4th Traditional Dhow Festival, check out Marhaba’s Facebook page.