Culture of Qatar
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The culture of Qatar is strongly influenced by traditional Bedouin culture, with less acute influence deriving from India, East Africa and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf. The peninsula's harsh climatic conditions compelled its inhabitants to turn to the sea for sustenance. Thus, there is a distinct emphasis placed on the sea in local culture. Literature and folklore themes are often related to sea-based activities.
Oral arts such as poetry and singing were historically more prevalent than figurative art because of the restrictions placed by Islam on depictions of sentient beings; however, certain visual art disciplines such as calligraphy, architecture and textile arts were widely practiced. Figurative arts were gradually assimilated into the country's culture during the oil era.
Because of Islam's stance on figurative art, paintings and plastic arts played a relatively insignificant role in Qatari culture until the discovery of oil in the mid-20th century. Other visual arts such as calligraphy and architecture were the most historically dominant forms of Islamic visual expression. Calligraphy was most prized in society because of its close connection with Islam. Calligraphy is often used in the design of official state logos, for example, the Qatar National Vision 2030 logo.
Art exhibitions were held under the auspices of the Ministry of Education until 1972, whereupon the state began providing its full support to the art scene. The Qatari Fine Arts Society was established in 1980 with the objective of promoting the works of Qatari artists. Yousef Ahmad is a leading figure of Qatar's art industry and regularly represents the country at international biennials and events. His art work has been displayed internationally.
For the last twenty years, several members of the Al Thani family have led Qatar’s interest and involvement into the field of arts and continue to shape the cultural policy of the country. Qatar was revealed to be the world's biggest art buyer in 2011 by The Art Newspaper.
Poetry has been an integral part of the culture since pre-Islamic times. Qatari ibn al-Fuja'a, a folk hero dating to the seventh-century, was renowned for writing poetry. It was seen as a verbal art which fulfilled essential social functions. Having a renowned poet among its ranks was a source of pride for tribes; it is the primary way in which age-old traditions are passed down generations. Poems composed by females primarily focused on the theme of ritha, to lament. This type of poetry served as an elegy.
Nabati was the primary form of oral poetry. In the nineteenth-century, sheikh Jassim Al Thani composed influential Nabati poems on the political conditions in Qatar. Nabati poems are broadcast on radio and televised in the country.
The modern literature movement in Qatar began in the 1970s. Unlike most other forms of art in Qatari society, females have been involved in the literature movement on a similar magnititude to males. In the 1970s, much of the early work of females revolved around ritha poems which were published in local newspapers. Kaltham Jaber became the first Qatari to publish a collection of short stories, and the first Qatari female writer to publish a major work when she released her anthology of short stories, dating from 1973 to the year of its publishing, 1978. Entitled "Ania wa Ghabat as-Samt wa at-Taraddud", the main focus of these stories is the desire for Qatari women to have a role in restructuring social norms and cultural conceptions.
The folk music of Qatar has a close association with the sea. Songs related to pearl hunting are the most popular genre of male folk music. Each song, varying in rhythm, narrates a different activity of the pearling trip, including spreading the sails, diving, and rowing the ships. Collective singing was an integral part of each pearling trip, and each ship had a designated singer, known locally as al naham.
Ardah, a folkloric dance, is still practiced in Qatar. The dance is performed with two rows of men opposite of one another, each of whom may or may not be wielding a sword, and is accompanied by drums and spoken poetry.
Women primarily sang work songs associated with daily activities such as wheat grinding and cooking. The songs were performed collectively in small groups some pertained to general themes, whereas others were related to specific work processes. Women would also sing when returning pearl ships were sighted. After a sighting was made, they would gather around the seashore where they would clap and sing about the hardships of pearl diving.
Qatari men wear thawbs (a long white shirt) over loose pants. They also wear a loose headdress, a ghutra, which comes in white or red and white. Females wear a long black dress known as an abaya. They cover their head with a shayla and sometimes conceal their face with a burqa.
All radio programmes from Qatar are state-owned and are amalgamated as the Qatar Broadcasting Service. Radio broadcasting in the country began in June 1968 and English transmissions started in December 1971 in order to accommodate the increasing non-Arabic speaking expat community. The QBS currently features radio stations in English, Arabic, French and Urdu.
Al Jazeera, currently Qatar's largest television network, was founded in 1996 and has since become the foundation of the media sector. Initially launched as an Arabic news and current affairs satellite TV channel, Al Jazeera has since expanded into a network with several outlets, including the internet and specialty TV channels in multiple languages. The 'Al Jazeera effect' refers to the global impact of the Al Jazeera Media Network, particularly on the politics of the Arab world.
|Date||English name||Local (Arabic) name||Description|
|Second Tuesday in February||National Sports Day||اليوم الوطني للرياضة||A public holiday.|
|Early March||March bank holiday||عطلة البنك||A bank holiday.|
|18 December||Qatar National Day||اليوم الوطني لقطر||National Day of Qatar.|
|1st, 2nd, 3rd Shawwal||Eid ul-Fitr||عيد الفطر||Commemorates end of Ramadan.|
|10th, 11th, 12th Zulhijjah||Eid ul-Adha||عيد الأضحى||Commemorates Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son. Also known as the Big Feast (celebrated from the 10th to 13th).|
Football is the most popular sport in regard to player base and spectatorship. Additionally, athletics, basketball, handball, volleyball, camel racing, horse racing, cricket and swimming are widely practiced. There are currently 11 multi-sports clubs in the country, and 7 single-sports clubs.
Prior to the introduction of football, traditional games played were al dahroi, al sabbah, and taq taq taqiyyah for boys, and al kunatb, al laqfah and nat al habl for girls. Variations of a family of board games known as mancala were played in previous decades. Two of the most popular board games were a’ailah and al haluwsah. Other traditional sports practiced in the country include falconry, camel racing and hunting.
Food and drink
Qatar follows Shariah Law, so alcohol, pornography, pork products and narcotics cannot be brought into the country and your luggage will be searched on arrival. Qatari cuisine reflects traditional Arab and Levantine cuisine. It is also heavily influenced by Iranian and Indian cuisine. Seafood and dates are staple food items. Machbūs, a meal consisting of rice, meat, and vegetables, is the national dish.
The multinational media conglomerate Al Jazeera Media Network is based in Doha with its wide variety of channels of which Al Jazeera Arabic, Al Jazeera English, Al Jazeera Documentary Channel, Al Jazeera Mubasher, beIN Sports Arabia and other operations are based in the TV Roundabout in the city.
- Terrestrial television
Terrestrial television stations now available on Nilesat include:
|21||UHF||DVB-T2||Q Channel Arabia||Lippo Middle East Group||Local / national|
|31||Al Watania TV||Lippo Middle East Group|
|39||Fox ME TV
Fox News Arabia
Sky News Arabia
CNTV Arabia (Prabowo Saudia TV)
Infinity TV (Prabowo Saudia TV)
|ITV Arabia Group|
|45||Al Jazeera||Al Jazeera Media Network|
|47||OSN First More
MNC Sports 1
MNC Sports 2
NHK World Premium
GMA Pinoy TV
GMA Life TV
GMA News TV International
|53||Qatar TV 1
Qatar TV 2
Qatar Airways Interactive Info
RTVM KSA 1
RTVM KSA 2
Noor Dubai TV
Al Rayyan TV
MDC TV (SINDOtv)
Jawa Pos TV
- Pay television
- Mozaic TV
- Mivo TV
- Sky (Qatar, UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman and Iran only, Pakistan, Palestina, Syria and Iraq opening soon 29 May 2017)
Doha has a variety of radio stations, some of which include:
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