Culture of Qatar
|Part of a series on the|
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.
Qatar Museums was established in the early 2000s to build and connect all museums and collections in Qatar. Two major museums lead the institution: the Museum of Islamic Art opened in 2008, and the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, opened in Education City by Qatar Foundation in 2010. The National Museum of Qatar has recently joined the Qatar Museums institution when it first opened on March 27th, 2019.
When a quartet comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed all ties with and imposed a blockade of Qatar on 5 June 2017, Qatari artist Ahmed Al-Maadheed created an illustration known as "Tamim Almajd", which translates to "Tamim the Glorious". The illustration, a simple black and white sketch of Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani containing the text "Tamim Almajd" in the style of Arabic calligraphy, has become symbolic of Qatari nationalism. The image is now displayed prominently on buildings, in media and in art in Qatar.
Local folk stories were seldom documented, instead being passed down orally from generation to generation. After Qatar began profitting from oil exploration, the tradition of passing down these stories gradually ceased. Government ministries such as the Ministry of Culture and Sports and local universities have made efforts to preserve and transcribe local legends in publications.
Among Qatar's most noted folk heroes are Qatari ibn al-Fuja'a, a 7th-century war poet, and Rahmah ibn Jabir Al Jalhami, an 18th- and 19th-century pirate and transitory leader of Qatar. Recurring themes in Qatari folk tales are djinn, pearl diving, and the sea.
One myth that purportedly originates from Qatar is that of May and Gilan, the latter of whom is said to be progenitor of the sail. According to tradition, in old times, a wealthy man named Ghilan resided in Al Khor. Besides commanding a crew of sailors and fishermen, he owned numerous pearling boats. As time passed, a woman named May who commanded superior number of boats and crewmen emerged as Ghilan's main adversary.
In an incident in which both crews were attempting to harvest the same pearl bed, May taunted Ghilan as her ship raced past his. This incensed Ghilan, who set out to discover a way to best his competitor. While observing a grasshopper, Ghilan took note of how its wings worked, and applied the same principle to his boats, giving rise to the sail. This enabled his boats to travel at higher speeds, allowing him to outpace May's boats to the densest pearl beds. The myth is typically presented in five sequences and is unlike most other known Bedouin stories. According to locals of Al Khor, the myth originated from the Al Muhannadi tribe of Al Khor. The story is not well-known elsewhere in Qatar.
The Lord of the Sea tale is famous in Qatar as well as the rest of the Persian Gulf region. The story revolves around a water djinn in the Persian Gulf named Bū Daryā who terrorizes sailors and pearl divers. It remains a well-known tale among Qatar's older population, particularly those who worked in maritime activities.
Qatari literature dates back to the 19th century with poets such as Abdul Jalil Al-Tabatabai and Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Uthaymeen. However, due to widespread illiteracy in the region at this time, local written literature dating back to the 19th century is scarce.
The modern literature movement in Qatar began in the 1950s, during the same time as the modern arts movement. This was largely because the increased prosperity from oil extraction activities allowed Qataris to receive formal education, adopt more settled lifestyles and attend higher education institutes abroad in order to hone their creative skills. Other factors involved in triggering a literary revolution were the improved social standing of women, the advent of a national identity, and the introductions of literary organisations, journalism and mass immigration.
Unlike most other forms of art in Qatari society, females have been involved in the literature movement on a similar magnititude to males. Yousef Ni'ma introduced the first two collections of short stories in 1970, entitled Bint Al-Khaleej (Daughter of the Gulf) and Liqa fi Beirut (A Meeting in Bayrut). 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 woman to publish a collection of short stories, and the first Qatari woman 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.
In the late 20th and the 21st centuries, novels became popular among Qatari writers. Shu'a' Khalifa and her sister Dalal Khalifa were the first two Qatari novelists to publish their works. They accomplished this feat with the publishing of three separate novels in 1993: al-Ubur ila al-haqiqa (Passage to Truth), written by Shu'a' in 1987, Ahlam al-bahr al-qadima (The Old Dreams of the Sea), written by Shu'a' in 1990 and Usturat al-Insan wa-l-buhayra (The Myth of the Man and the Lake, written by Dalal. Their novels center around social limitations faced by women, and scrutinize long-held social values. Another important theme in their novels is the rapid societal transition experienced by Qatar since the discovery of oil.
Abdulaziz Al-Mahmoud published his maritime novel Al Qursan in August 2011, and it went on to become one of the best-selling books to be released by a Qatari author. By June 2015, twelve Qatari women and eight Qatari men had published a collective total of thirty-nine novels. Novels have proven to be one of the fastest growing categories of literature, with nearly a quarter of all existing Qatari-authored novels being published as recently as 2014. Six new female Qatari writers published novels in 2014. Similar to their predecessors, the main themes in their books are women's role in society and the social transition of Qatar.
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 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.
Historically, 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.
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.
Historically camel racing was a tradition among the Bedouin tribes of Qatar and would be performed on special occasions such as weddings. It was not until 1972, one year after Qatar's independence, that camel racing was practiced on a professional level. Typically, camel racing season takes place from September to March. Approximately 22,000 racing camels are used in competitions which are mainly held at the country's primary camel racing venue, the Al-Shahaniya Camel Racetrack. The average distance of such races is usually 4 to 8 km depending on the conditions of the camels being raced.
Falconry is widely practiced by Qataris. The only falconry association is Al Gannas, which was founded in 2008 in Katara and which hosts the Annual Falconry Festival. Hunting season extends from October to April. Prices of falcons can be extremely high, being as expensive as QR 1 million. Saluki dogs are also used for hunting in the desert primarily because of their great speeds. Their main prey in the desert are gazelles and rabbits.
Food and drink
As Qatar follows Shariah Law, alcohol and pork products cannot be brought into the country.
The main dishes that are considered to be traditional Qatari food, include:
- Machbous(kabsa), which is rice that is cooked with Arabic spices, served with chicken, lamb, or fish. Machbous is mainly served with lamb during big celebrations, and any type of gatherings to show generosity.
- Mathruba, which is rice beaten with cardamom, milk, butter, and any choice of meat, until it turns into porridge form.
- Thareed, consists of bread soaked in vegetable, spices, and chicken/lamb stew. It is specifically served everyday during Ramadan, along with Harees.
- Harees, meat beaten with boiled ground wheat, until it turns into porridge form, to the consistency desired.
- Balaleet, is a sweet and savory dish, that is usually eaten for breakfast or as a dessert, which includes vermicelli cooked with sugar, rose water, cardamom, and saffron, and topped with omelet eggs.
Clothing laws punish and forbid the wearing of revealing or indecent clothes. The dressing-code law is enforced by a government body called "Al-Adheed". In 2012, a Qatari NGO organized a campaign of "public decency" after they deemed the government to be too lax in monitoring the wearing of revealing clothes; defining the latter as "not covering shoulders and knees, tight or transparent clothes". The campaign targets foreigners who constitute the majority of Qatar's population.
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. Around the ghutra is a black rope called agal, which holds it in place.
Qatari women generally wear customary dresses that include “long black robes” and black head cover hijab, locally called bo'shiya. However, the more traditional Sunni Muslim clothing for women are the black colored body covering known as the abayah together with the black scarf used for covering their heads known as the shayla. A burqa is sometimes worn to conceal their face.
It is believed that Qatari women began using face masks in the 19th century amid substantial immigration. As they had no practical ways of concealing their faces from foreigners, they began wearing the same type of face mask as their Persian counterparts.
The legitimate language spoken in Qatar is Arabic. However, since more than half of Qatar's population are expats and migrants, English is also commonly spoken at public places especially at shops and restaurants.
The table below includes basic Arabic words:
|وعليكم السلام||Wa-alaykum alsalam||Hello (in response)|
|كيف حالك||Kaif halak||How are you?|
|لو سمحت||Law samahit||Please|
The official religion practiced in Qatar is Islam. Qatar does not face any conflicts within groups of different religions, they tranquilly exist, where more than 90% of Qatar's population are Muslims, and the other 5% include Hindus, Jews, Christians, or other religious communities.
|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).|
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.
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, Palestine, Syria and Iraq opening soon 29 May 2017)
Doha has a variety of radio stations, some of which include:
- Abu Saud, Abeer (1984). Qatari Women: Past and Present. Longman Group United Kingdom. p. 133. ISBN 978-0582783720.
- Abu Saud (1984), p. 134
- "Interview: H.E. Salah bin Ghanem Al Ali - Minister of Culture and Sports - State of Qatar" (PDF). Oxford Gulf & Arabian Peninsula Forum. 2016. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
- Abu Saud (1984), p. 140
- Abu Saud (1984), p. 141
- Aysha Khalid Mahmood. "Expressions of Arabic Calligraphy in Arabic Typography for a Cultural Identity of the Visual Arabic Script" (PDF). Cultural Diplomacy. p. 8. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- Abu Saud (1984), p. 142
- McCoy, Lisa (2014). Qatar (Major Muslim Nations). Mason Crest.
- Robert Kluijver. "The Al Thani's involvement in the arts". Gulf Art Guide. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "Qatar becomes world's biggest buyer of contemporary art". The Guardian. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "Qatar unveils Islamic arts museum". Al Jazeera. 23 November 2008. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
- John Zarobell (2017). Art and the Global Economy. University of California Press. p. 165.
- "You are being redirected..." nmoq.org.qa. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
- "'Tamim the Glorious' enthrals Qatar". The Hindu. AFP. 3 August 2017. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
- Amanda Erickson (28 March 2011). "Saving the stories". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
- "نبذة حول الشاعر: قطري بن الفجاءة" (in Arabic). Adab. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- Allen J. Fromherz (1 June 2017). Qatar: A Modern History, Updated Edition. Georgetown University Press. p. 49.
- Katarzyna Pechcin (2017). "A Tale of "The Lord of the Sea" in Qatari Folklore and Tradition". Fictional Beings in Middle East Cultures. University of Bucharest's Center for Arab Studies. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
- Anie Montigny (2004). "La légende de May et Ghilân, mythe d'origine de la pêche des perles ?". Techniques & Culture (in French). pp. 43–44. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
- Hassan Tawfiq (1 May 2015). "الشعر في قطر علي امتداد مائة سنة" (in Arabic). Al Jasra Cultural and Social Club. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
- Waïl S. Hassan (book editor), Mohammed Mostafa Salem (chapter 22) (1 August 2017). "22". The Oxford Handbook of Arab Novelistic Traditions. Oxford University Press. pp. 383–393.
- Rebecca L. Torstrick & Elizabeth Faier (2009). Culture and Customs of the Arab Gulf States. Greenwood. p. 49. ISBN 978-0313336591.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
- Abu Saud (1984), p. 158
- "ﻨﻈﻤﻬﺎ إدارة «اﻟﺒﺤﻮث واﻟﺪراﺳﺎت» ﻧﺪوة ﺛﻘﺎﻓﻴﺔ ﺗﻮﺛﻖ ﻟﻠﺴﺮد اﻟﻘﻄﺮي ﻧﻬﺎﻳﺔ أﻛﺘﻮﺑﺮ". pressreader.com (in Arabic). Al Sharq. 14 October 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
- Abu Saud (1984), p. 161
- Subayyil, ʻAbd al-ʻAzīz (1991). The Short Story in the Arabian Peninsula: Realistic Trends. Indiana University. p. 28.
- "Sharing The Secrets Of Literary Success". Qatar Foundation. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
- Abu Saud (1984), p. 152
- "نبذة حول الشاعر: قطري بن الفجاءة" (in Arabic). Adab. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
- Abu Saud (1984), p. 154
- Abu Saud (1984), p. 156
- Abu Saud (1984), p. 146
- "Arts and Culture". Embassy of Qatar in London. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
- Urkevich, Lisa (19 December 2014). "5". Music and Traditions of the Arabian Peninsula: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar (Google Play). Routledge. pp. 142–143/689. ISBN 978-0415888721.
- Abu Saud (1984), p. 147
- "Sports chapter (2013)". Qatar Statistics Authority. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
- "Society 2 of 6". Catnaps. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "Traditional sports". Qatar Tourism Authority. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
- Breulmann, Marc; Böer, Benno; Wernery, Ulrich; Wernery, Renate; El Shaer, Hassan; Alhadrami, Ghaleb; Gallacher, David; Peacock, John; Chaudhary, Shaukat Ali; Brown, Gary & Norton, John. "The Camel From Tradition to Modern Times" (PDF). UNESCO. Retrieved 23 August 2018.:25
- David Harding (1 May 2017). "Qatar's prized racing camels bred for success". thenational.ae. Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
- "Falconry: A National Sport". Marhaba. 20 September 2017. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
- Matthew Cassel (29 January 2012). "In Pictures: Qatar's hunting games". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
- "2022 FIFA World Cup", Wikipedia, 2019-04-20, retrieved 2019-04-23
- "The 3 M's of Qatari Cuisine". The Daily Meal. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "Culture of Qatar". Hilal Plaza. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
- Koduru, Keertana. "10 Traditional Qatari Dishes Everyone Must Try". Culture Trip. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
- Koduru, Keertana. "10 Traditional Qatari Dishes Everyone Must Try". Culture Trip. Retrieved 2019-04-09.
- Koduru, Keertana. "10 Traditional Qatari Dishes Everyone Must Try". Culture Trip. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
- ansari, hina (2015-07-06). "Ramadan Recipe "Thareed"". Qatar Living. Retrieved 2019-04-09.
- "Harees", Wikipedia, 2019-02-14, retrieved 2019-04-09
- "Balaleet (Sweet Vermicelli and Eggs)". SAVEUR. Retrieved 2019-04-09.
- "Organizers are calling this campaign "One of Us" - not "No Nudity"". Doha News. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
- "Qatar culture". Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "The Culture of Qatar". HilalPlaza. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
- Abu Saud (1984), p. 39
- Courtney King (11 April 2003). "For Qatari Women, Change Slow in Coming". ABC News. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
- Abu Saud (1984), p. 52
- "Qatar Culture | Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar". qatar-weill.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
- "Qatar Culture | Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar". qatar-weill.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2019-04-09.
- Qatar Society and Culture. California: World Trade Press. 2010. pp. 1–24. ISBN 1-60780-417-4.
- "Public Holidays in Qatar in 2015". Office Holidays. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- "National Day Observances". Timeanddate.com. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
- The Report: Qatar 2010. Oxford Business Group. 2010. p. 237.
- "IREX Report 2009" (PDF). irex.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
- Qatar Country Study Guide Volume 1 Strategic Information and Developments. Int'l Business Publications, USA. 2012. p. 196. ISBN 978-0739762141.
- "QBS FM Radio - Doha". tunein.com. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
- "Radio". qmediame.com. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
- Kadhim, Abbas (2013). Governance in the Middle East and North Africa: A Handbook. Routledge. p. 273. ISBN 978-1857435849.
- "Information and Media". qatarembassy.net. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
- The Report: Qatar 2009. Oxford Business Group. 2009. p. 200. ISBN 978-1902339252.
- "The 'al-Jazeera Effect': - The Washington Institute for Near East Policy". Washingtoninstitute.org. 2000-12-08. Retrieved 2012-10-24.