Qatar’s First National Dhow Exhibition is being held at Katara from Tuesday 15th to Saturday 19th.

The exhibition has begun today at Katara! HE Abdulrahman Al-Khulaifi, President of Katara said that he is proud to host an event which honours his cultural heritage; “the Dhow Exhibition provides us with a fantastic opportunity to promote Qatari history to the world while also educating and sharing our legacy with the younger Qatari generation.”

The exhibition promises to be a window into the past and has been described as a marine festival. There will be a Pearl Diving Competition, a Damah Competition, workshops for children, museum displays from various galleries across the Gulf and a series of lectures. Katara have been scouring the Gulf for the last two years for dhows; some of the dhows participating are antiques up to 100 years old and have sailed to Doha from various countries in the GCC. There are 60 dhows in total currently docked at Katara.

This exhibition is an opportunity to learn more about dhows, which you can usually see at the Corniche as part of the view and might not necessarily appreciate that they are more than aesthetic. They used to be the economic lifeline for Qatar, as an integral part of pearling, until the 1940s when the Japanese invented cultured pearls and dhows became more decorative. Dhows are part of Qatar’s dual heritage of maritime and desert, which can be seen as  blue and gold stripes on policemen uniforms.

Katara wants to recreate the environment of a traditional port and so the beach front has been transformed into a dhow port from 100 years ago, with new jetties to support the heavy boats. Traditional lounges, or majilis have been set up and Katara are encouraging dhow captains and crews to share secrets of their travels. There will be bands from all over the Gulf, as singing was an important part of pearling, to create an exciting and authentic atmosphere.

So head down to Katara, admire the dhows, listen to the music and maybe listen to some secrets from a dhow captain!