Traditional performances, exhibitions, and workshops at the 10th edition of Katara Traditional Dhow Festival provide an opportunity for the young generation to learn more about Qatar and the region’s history and heritage – outside the four corners of the classroom, prominent handicraft-maker Abdullah Mohamed al-Haddad said.
“The activities reflect the life and experiences of our forefathers, so this festival is an excellent platform to educate the youth, the students,” he told *Gulf Times on the sidelines of the festival, which will conclude today at the Katara beach area.
Al-Haddad was among the many exhibitors who patiently answered in detail questions from visitors, as he took them on a walk down memory lane of Qatar’s past, before the discovery of oil and gas.
In the past, he explained, 90% of their source of living depended on the sea, whether through fishing or pearl diving.
“In the summer, our grandparents spent three to four months in the sea to fish or look for pearls,” he recounted, while making traditional fish baskets, cage and nets at a handicraft section.
After a good harvest, al-Haddad said they, at their young age, would be tasked with taking the catch to the souq for selling. “When I was seven-years-old, my grandfather taught us how to depend on ourselves, and he would delegate a job for each of us.”
“Girls usually learn from the mother while boys learn from the father; they were trained how to be independent and raise their own families,” he said.
“During our time, we made our own toys, built our own house, and by doing different chores at home, we learned how to develop and enhance our skills which we were able to apply up to this time,” al-Haddad stressed. “We were taught how to repair almost everything, we don’t just throw things, because it would mean we’re wasting money.”
Back then, he said, people ate more fresh food – no preservatives or additives – and fish was a staple.
“So people were fit and healthy, full of energy, and very few got ill,” he added. “There was only one doctor in a very large area, and we depended on herbs for treatment of minor diseases.”
He lauded the organisers of the festival, saying that the various activities, including exhibitions and cultural performances, play a key role in raising awareness on the importance of preserving the culture and traditions of Qatar and the region.
Al-Haddad said that he looks forward to participating in the next edition of the festival in 2021, hoping to revive and revisit a colourful past once again, and help pass it on to the next generation.