The Katara 4th Traditional Dhow Festival concluded on Saturday 22 November 2014, with scores of visitors flocking Katara’s beach during the five-day event.
Katara’s Director-General, Dr Khaled Ibrahim Al Sulaiti, said.
The fourth Traditional Dhow Festival is a leading heritage event that achieved a number of objectives, such as bringing generations together and reviving Qatar’s as well as the region’s maritime heritage. Our maritime heritage is a distinctive feature of our national identity. This goes in harmony with Katara’s mission as a cultural institution, through which we spread our culture as well as interact with other cultures.’
The Katara 4th Traditional Dhow Festival kicked off on Tuesday, with HH The Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani inaugurating the event and attending the opening ceremony, accompanied by HE Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Personal Representative of HH The Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
The opening ceremony on 18 November 2014 was held in the presence of the Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage HE Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al Kuwari, Katara’s Director-General Dr Khalid Ibrahim al Sulaiti and the festival’s Director Ahmed al Hitmi, among a number of their Excellencies ambassadors and VIP guests. Remarkably, more than 40,000 visitors took part in the festival’s opening day celebrations.
Among the most notable guests of the festival was a delegation of 250 people from the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF), who also toured the rest of the Cultural Village on Thursday, to learn about its landmarks. Katara’s Director-General Dr Khaled Ibrahim al Sulaiti also received a member of the Omani Shura Council and took him on a tour of the festival.
To give the festival a ‘time-hop’ feel, the on-beach Heritage Village has been re-designed to simulate the Qatari architecture of the 1940s. The village hosted 38 exhibitors from India, Zanzibar, Oman and Bahrain among a number of other countries.
The festival’s biggest announcement stated that the second ‘Fateh Al Khair’ dhow trip will start early October 2015. On its second trip, the dhow is set to sail off Qatari shores, later arriving at the Indian coast, 60 years after sail boats stopped their trade trips between the two countries. The festival’s Director Ahmed Al Hitmi said:
After sailing off Qatari shores, the dhow will stop at the Khasab and Muscat ports in Oman, after which it will reach ‘Ras Al Hadd’ port, before heading off to its final destination in India.’
Hitmi noted that ‘Fateh Al Khair’ will return to Katara’s seashore with the kick-off of the 5th edition of the Traditional Dhow Festival. According to Hitmi, Katara has received many requests from people as well as members of the media from all over the GCC and the European and Australian continents, to board the dhow on its historical trip to India. However, ‘Fateh Al Khair 2’, will likely be able to have no more than 20 guests on board.
The first ‘Fateh Al Khair’ trip was considered a historic voyage of the Arabian Gulf. The dhow cruised along the region’s ports before returning to Qatar, to participate in the country’s National Day celebrations.
The closing day witnessed the announcement of the winners in the festival’s competitions as well as a prize-awarding ceremony, held along with ‘Al Qafal’ celebration. Saturday’s closing ceremony started at 4:30 pm with ‘Al Qafal’ heritage festival; which celebrated the return of the ten teams participating in the Pearl Diving competition to Katara’s seashore after three days of sailing off on Thursday. Al Qafal ceremony featured a number of traditional dances and folk songs that gave the competitions’ crowning ceremony an old-time flavour.
While ‘Fateh Al Khair’ team from Bahrain won QR200,000 for collecting the biggest amount of pearls (14,264) during the three-day contest, ‘Leshkhairah’ team from Oman, the competition’s runner up was awarded QR150,000 for coming back with 13,242 pearls. The third place was carried off by ‘Al Sadd Al Aali’ team from Bahrain, who was able to dive for 12,765 pearls, taking a QR100,000 award home. The competition’s scores were calculated by assigning 70% of each team’s numbers to the amount of pearls collected, while the 30% remaining evaluated the team’s adherence to heritage and traditions.
Mohammed Abdullah Al Saada from Qatar who took home QR100,000 for winning the free-diving contest. Saada managed to hold his breath for five minutes and 30 seconds under water. With a 21 seconds difference in timing, Hamad Rashid Al Hajiri from Qatar was awarded QR80,000 for coming second. The third place was scooped by Abdullah Abed Omar from Qatar, who was awarded QR60,000 for staying for three minutes and 43 seconds under water.
The sailing competition’s winners were also crowned, with Raslan team winning the first place, Al Khor team finishing second and Al Maha team, third. The winners were awarded QR100,000, QR70,000 and QR50,000 for the first, second and third place respectively.
As for the rowing competition, the teams that secured the first four spots on Wednesday, all from Oman, were awarded QR100,000, QR70,000, QR50,000 and QR30,000 in respective order. The four other participating teams were each awarded QR10,000.
Qatar Museums Authority’s ‘Fateh Al Khair’ won the Best Dhow contest, to the tune of a QR100,000 prize. Exceptionally, this year, the Judges found the contest to be highly competitive and decided to honor two more dhows with QR 50,000 each. The two honorees were Bahrain’s ‘Al Khalfaniyah’ dhow owned by Abdulaziz al Shahin, followed by ‘Kumzar’ dhow of Mohammed Abdullah al Kumzari from Oman.
The award ceremony was followed by the festival’s main Operetta, ‘Al Tabaa’ (The edition), which revolves around the 1925 sinking of the pearl-diving boats in the Arabian Gulf after being exposed to a strong cyclone and heavy rains.
During the festival, Katara announced the restoration of ‘Al Mafras’; a buoy that is still regarded as Doha’s official entrance by sea, located north of Raas Abu Aboud. The buoy, which was damaged around 20 years ago, was restored by a team of Qatari volunteers, who used the traditional ‘gravel and cohesive’ method, in coordination with the Qatar Coast Guard and the Customs and Ports General Authority.
As for next year’s edition, the festival’s Director said that restoring ‘Al Mafras’ encouraged Katara to repeat the process with other buoys. ‘Next year, we plan to restore another buoy at ‘Halet Umm al Khayfan’, known as Burj Al Asiri,’ Hitmi said, adding that the buoy’s inauguration will take place at the next edition of the Dhow Festival.
For pictures of the Katara 4th Tradition Dhow Festival, visit Marhaba’s Facebook page.