DOHA: The first El Meyna traditional pearl diving competition for children ends today with the traditional Al Qafal arrival ceremony for the young pearl divers.
Al Qafal (arrival of the divers with sea treasures) will be held at Katara beach at 5pm to welcome the children after three days in the sea.
All the five teams participating in the festival will be honoured during the ceremony while the top three will receive prizes.
Ahmad Al Hatmi, Chairman of organising committee, said the competition was the first of its kind in Qatar and the region for children and the name ‘El Meyna’ was derived from ‘collection of shells in shallow water.’
“It is an educational trip and festival for children to make them aware of their ancestors’ way of life. When these children pass the age of 18, they will take part in the Fath Al Kheir journey,” he said.
The competition is being held at the beginning of summer because Qatari divers start diving for pearls at this time, which they call ‘bigger diving season’ that starts in mid-May and continues for four months.
Each journey takes two to four weeks.
For this competition, each dhow has a leader and two assistants. The diving is being done according to traditional ways, using traditional clothes and diving materials.
Yesterday, the contest near Al Safiliyya Island, 5km east of Doha, started at 8am.
Each team of 12 members was divided into two groups who dived searching for oysters for two hours. A second round of the competition was held at 4pm and lasted two hours.
During the first two days, children showed enthusiasm in the competition, diving and collecting oysters.
Fahad Al Dosari, 12, who is participating with his younger brother, said he liked the sea, and the traditional Qatari way of life.
He said he wanted to learn to be strong and see how he could live for three days in the sea away from his family and to be patient while facing challenges.
Khalid bin Ibrahim Al Sulaiti, General Manager, Katara, yesterday visited the five dhows carrying the 60 participants near the island. He listened on children’s stories about their experiences in the competition and encouraged them to be patient and follow their ancestors’ bravery in facing dangers as they embarked on their journey in the sea.
He also advised them to be responsible and serious in accomplishing their tasks because they would learn a lot from the competition such as how to cooperate in a group, self-reliance, decision-making and patience.