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Children play traditional games during the launch of dhows at Doha Corniche yesterday. BELOW: Sailors work on a dhow prior to its launch. (Shaival Dalal)
DOHA: Maritime songs of nahams (pearl ship singers) brought nostalgia to Qatari elders and other visitors on the Corniche during the inauguration ceremony of three traditional dhows yesterday afternoon.
Classified as sanbuk — a type of dhow famous and widely used in the Gulf, the three identical dhows named Lusail 1, 2 and 3 were proudly Qatari made, constructed at a traditional shipyard in Ras Abu Aboud.
Ali Saeed Al Kuwari, in charge of the event, said the wooden ships were crafted by 60 workers at the shipyard in Ras Abu Aboud.
“Since it was established in 1981, this shipyard has produced many traditional ships,” said Al Kuwari.
“We feel proud because these are all made in Qatar which, like other countries in the Gulf has a rich maritime tradition. Through this, we would like to revive this tradition and pass it on to the coming generations,” he added.
The inauguration was attended by Qatari elders experienced with traditional dhows and had been fishermen and pearl divers. They were honoured through a traditional ceremony for the dasha (departure of the divers), during which performances were executed including the sword dance.
The ceremonies brought back memories to the Qatari elders recalling how their ancestors had lived as seafarers before the discovery of oil.
One of the elders Ali Khamis Al Hassan Al Mohannadi showed his deep appreciation of the initiative saying: “This shows the government’s concern and keenness to keep Qatar’s important maritime heritage live on for generations to come, reminding them how Qataris of the past lived their lives dependent on the sea through fishing and diving for pearls.”
Pearl diving was one of the key elements of the Gulf’s traditions which unite the GCC states, which were once one of the best sources of high quality pearls but the industry has been left on the wayside with the rise of the oil industry.
“The organising committee takes this opportunity for the occasion to honour the elders for their contributions to our rich heritage. We are also trying to revive the ancient art of singing and dancing related to the seafaring tradition of Qatar,” explained Al Kuwari.