Qatar pursues a wise policy aiming at preserving and enriching its cultural and civilization heritage in such a way to make it adaptable to the soul and urges of modernism. As a part of this strategic vision, Qatar has established the Supreme Council of Culture, Arts and Heritage, which has put Qatar on the cultural map of the Arab and Islamic world.
Fishermen and Pearl-Divers
Since ancient times the sea has played a vital role in the daily life of the citizens of Qatar. People in Qatar at that time depended on fishing to earn their living in the pre-oil era. Pearl diving is one of the oldest professions in the Gulf region. It was one of the main sources of income in the pre-oil era. With the discovery of oil and the introduction of Japanese artificial pearls, pearl diving became unprofitable and people turned to earning their living from other less demanding activities. Shipbuilding is one of the main industries which was popular in Qatar and the Gulf region and nearly disappeared following the discovery of oil in the early decades of the twentieth century. Today there is only one shipbuilding workshop in Qatar, the Emiri Shipbuilding Workshop.
Traditional Craftsmanship and Hobbies
There is also Al Sadu, Wrap industry, a traditional craft of hand spinning and weaving which is still practiced in the Bedouin desert communities, as it is closely associated with the availability of raw materials such as sheep wool, camel and goat hair and cotton. The Sadu is traditionally a female activity. Goldsmithery and trading in jewelry and precious stones is also one of the oldest traditional handicrafts in Qatar. There are families whose names have long been associated with these crafts which are passed from generation to generation.
The art of embroidering men`s and women`s traditional clothes is one of the oldest professions in the region as well as using the Gypsum to coat the houses, forts, castles, towers and mosques, because of its ability to withstand severe climatic conditions.
People in Qatar and the Gulf region are known as obsessed with Falconry. This hobby is passed from fathers to sons because people in the region believe it encourages the values of chivalry, courage, patience and diligence. This hobby is practiced in winter when people start hunting falcons to train them at a later stage.
Other Countries’ Cultural Impact
The Geographical location of Qatar on the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula has reflected in Qatar`s cultural heritage. Qatar`s longstanding relations with other countries in the Indian subcontinent and Africa have had an impact on its cultural orientation, especially the folklore and popular arts. Qatar`s arts and folklore, like those of fellow GCC countries, are characterized by diversity especially in musical instruments like the Indian Drum and the African Drum, the Tambourine which is used in all Qatari folklore performances, and Al-Mirwas, a small drum held with one hand and beaten with fingers, also Al-Sirnai and the Single String rebeck which is a one string instrument played with a bow made from the hair of a horsetail and the Lute. There are great numbers of popular songs and dances in Qatar performed individually or with groups. For example Ar-razif is a dance performed by a single male which involves wielding a sword in hand on the dance floor. Qatar plays an important role in preserving folklore. A meeting of Gulf States in Doha, the first of its kind, resulted with foundation of The Folklore Center in Doha and became in 1991 an autonomous affiliate of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The main task of this center is to preserve folklore. In coordination with UNESCO and World Intellectual Property Organization, Gulf Folklore Center aims to protect both folklore, as a national resource from foreign exploitation, and private moral and material rights of contracting nations.