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Evidence of early habitation in Qatar that can be traced as far back as to the 4th century BC appeared in many artifacts such as inscriptions, rock carvings, flint spearheads and examples of pottery which were all uncovered by the Danish (1965), the British (1973) and the French (1976) expeditions. Researchers knew al-Wasil hills since 1957 as an important site of Stone Age archeology. About 200 archeological sites of the prehistoric age were discovered during the eight years of the work of the Danish expedition from 1965 to 1975. Several sites of various periods in the Stone Age were discovered to the east of Um Bab. Other sites were found in the southernmost border near Soudanthil. An important site for the manufacture of flint tools, which probably goes back to the Mesolithic Stone Age, was discovered at Umm Tag to the south west of Dukhan; and new sites were discovered to the south east of Mesaieed. The archeological surveys revealed that the Ubaid civilization, which flourished in southern Iraq and the northern parts of the Arabian Gulf, had also reached the Qatar peninsula.

In the 5th century BC, the Greek historian Herodotus referred to the seafaring canaanites as the original inhabitants of Qatar. Further, the geographer Ptolemy showed in his map of the Arab world 'gatara' as believed to refer to the Qatari town of Zubarah, which has acquired the fame of being one of the most important trading ports in the gulf region at the time.

Qatar in the Islamic History

In the Islamic history in the middle of the 7th century AD, the Qatar peninsula and the surrounding region were under the rule of the Al Munzir Arabs. Their king, al-Munzir Ibn Sawi al-Tamimi, embraced Islam, and Qatar entered the realm of Islamic civilization and has participated in all its successive stages and eras.

The presence of Qatar in Arabic and Islamic literature and history was very noticeable. Poets expressed their admiration of Qatar naval fleet which was assembled to transport the Islamic army under the leadership of Abu al-Al'a al-Hadrami.

Arab historians and travelers marked the fame and outstanding bravery of the Qatari poet Qatari Ibn al-Fujaah. In his publication Mu'jam al-Buldan', Yaqut al-Hamawi, a well known Arabian geographer, mentioned Qatar for its fine striped woven cloaks, known at the time as Qatari cloaks, and for the Qataris' noticeable skills in the improvement and fine finishing of spears, known at the time as the Khattiyah spears.

Under the Abbasid state during the 8th century AH (14th century AD), Qatar experienced great economic prosperity and pledged a great deal of financial support towards maintaining the Caliphate in Baghdad. Evidence of such support can be gleaned from the inscriptions of Murwab fort on the western coast of the peninsula, which bears the marks of the Abbasid architectural style.

During the 10th century AH (16th century AD), the Qataris aligned with the Turks to drive out the Portuguese. Subsequently, Qatar, like the entire Arabian Gulf region, came under the Turkish rule for four successive centuries. Ottoman sovereignty, however, was only nominal as the real power and control were in the hands of the sheikhs and princes of local Arab tribes.

Qatar in the 20th Century

Qatar continued to maintain its ties with the state of the Ottoman Islamic Khalifate and recognized the khalifate's nominal sovereignty until early in the 20th century in spite of the fact that the Ottoman rule in the Gulf region and the Arabian Peninsula was gradually weakened. In those circumstances Qatar chose not to commit itself to any protection arrangements other than the 1868 treaty, which Sheikh Mohammed Bin Thani had signed with Britain. In 1916 Britain was able to conclude with Qatar a protection treaty that was finally ratified on the 23 of March 1918 after Sheikh Abdullah Bin jassim had signed the original and translated versions. Britain then moved to the stage of its physical presence in Qatar after the ratification of the amended treaty in 1935. The amended version ensured the cancellation of the 'frozen' articles dealing with the political British representation in Qatar in the old treaty, and provided for the establishment of postal and telegraphic services, airports and other facilities, notwithstanding that no British political representative had come to Doha until 1939.

Oil exploration operations took about 14 years (1935 - 1949), and in spite of the first signs of success at Dukhan field towards the end of 1939, operations had to stop for 4 years because of the Second World War. In 1949 oil started to flow in commercial amounts, and in December in the same year the first ship left the shores of Qatar bearing a consignment of crude oil.

Before that, a 10-year period of hardship, which was marked with food shortages and steep increase in the price of commodities, hit the country from 1939 to 1949 in the aftermath of the Second World War and the sharp fall in revenues from pearling.

Despite the fact that Qatar was not independent yet, it tried since the 1960s to engage in some international activity by joining some technical UN organizations such as the UNESCO and the World Health Organization. It also participated in the conferences of oil producing countries and the 14th session of the Arab League's cultural committee, held in Cairo on the 21st of January 1961.

After Britain had decided to withdraw from the entire region in 1968, a decree-law No (1 1) for 1969 was issued to establish a department for foreign affairs, which had formed the nucleus of the present Ministry of Foreign Affairs..

The first Qatari constitution, which was issued as a provisional basic statute in 1970, stipulated, by decree No (35) issued on 29th May 1970, the formation of the first Council of Ministers in the history of Qatar. Several laws started to flow thereafter, outlining the responsibilities of ministers and jurisdiction of ministries and government departments in line with the basic statute.

The first meeting of the first Council of Ministers in Qatar was held in the 3rd June 1970, with 10 portfolios. Independence was proclaimed on 3rd September 1971.


Heritage of Qatar

Qatari heritage, handed down from generation to generation, has always been an integral part of the Arab Islamic heritage of the Arabian Peninsula.

It encompasses the features of the social fabric and the cultural peculiarity of the Arab man who has lived on this land and dealt with it and its environment in a give-and-take manner until his heritage has become a true reflection of the people's lives and their adherence to their milieu.

Although most handicrafts and traditional industries have disappeared, some managed to survive, thanks to the support rendered by the government.

Traditional Handicrafts


This industry existed for centuries in Qatar and the Gulf region, but almost disappeared following the discovery of oil in the early decades of the twentieth century.

It used to rely on materials imported from India, such as teak and pine wood that resist humidity, certain types of cotton wicks, nails and oil extracted from dolphins to be used as water insulator.

The carpentry tools used in shipbuilding were traditional too, like Al-Mejdah (the drill), the adz and the saw. The ship-builder was called “Al-Gallaf”.

There used to be different types of ships and each type had a different name such as Al-Bateel, Al-Mashuh and Al-Jalboot.

Today there is only one shipbuilding workshop in Qatar, the Emiri Shipbuilding Workshop.

Al Sadu (warp industry)

Alsadu is a general term describing the traditional craft of hand spinning and weaving. It 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 exclusively a female activity. The same ancient tools are still in use: the spindle, the loom and Al-minshazah. Sadu products include tents, and other accessories used in Bedouin communities such as Al-Katea, Al-Odul, As-sakayef and sacs.


Qatari heritage, handed down from generation to generation, has always been an integral part of the Arab Islamic heritage of the Arabian Peninsula. It encompasses the features of the social fabric and the cultural peculiarity of the Arab man, who has lived on this land and dealt with it and its environment in a give-and-take manner until his heritage has become a true reflection of the people's lives and their adherence to their milieu. Among these handicrafts: Goldsmithery and trading in jewelry and precious stones. There are families whose names have long been associated with these crafts, mainly those who were able to invent and design new models.


This is the art of embroidering men’s and women’s traditional clothes, and it is one of the oldest professions in the region. A tailor works with a needle, colored threads, silver and gold cane threads, using what’s locally known as An-naqdah.

Recently semi automatic and electric sewing machines were introduced. Women’s clothes like the jubbah, the robe, the shawl, the cloak are sewn as well as men’s clothes like cloaks, Ad-dakala and trousers.

In old times, Qatar was one of the well-known locations of fine clothes in the Arabian Peninsula. Women garments are wide, loose and decent. They are made of rich fabric and some are embroidered with silver strands especially on the front, the bottom and on the wide-open sleeves of the garment.

Qatari women's garments come in various models: al-darah'a, al-surwal, al- hijab, al-iba'a and al-burgu' of the Bedouins; al-batoolah of the city dwellers and thoub al-nashl, which is a loose garment used by women in various occasions such as weddings and public occasions like eids. Al-nashl garment is made of plain silk fabric with bright and appealing colors. Usually the fabric is chiffon and transparent silk.Al-nashl garment is more embroidered than other models. It's garnished with gold lines of embroidery and sometimes it carries some ornamentation.

Gypsum Ornamentation

One can find gypsum ornamentations in many old houses. Gypsum was locally produced and used instead of clay for coating the walls of houses, forts, castles, towers and mosques because of its ability to withstand severe climatic conditions.

It was also used for making architectural and plant ornament molds which were used to decorate many traditional houses in Qatar. It is also used for making censers which are still in high demand for decorative purposes.


Traditional architecture in Qatar falls into three categories:

  • Religious architecture like mosques.

  • Civil architecture like castles, palaces, houses and markets.

  • Military architecture like forts, towers and fencing walls.

The topography and climate of the country determined the style and the shapes of various buildings. Thus materials such as non-polished stones that were available in almost all parts of the country were used.

Clay was used as mortar to bond stones together or to coat surfaces of external and internal walls and ceilings. Clay bricks were also used in areas where stones were not available.

With the passage of time Qatari architects managed to adopt new and modernistic building techniques, tools and materials. Gypsum replaced clay in coating walls and wooden frames were used in ceilings.

The roofs were level and horizontal with parts of them protruding in the facades to lessen the impact of heat on the insides of buildings.

To avoid glaring sunlight, windows were small compared to walls, and were usually rectangular overlooking courtyards. In the sitting rooms and the upper rooms, windows overlooked both the courtyard and the street. There were also ventilation and lighting grills, called Badjirs, only in the upstairs rooms.

Fishing & Pearl Hunting

Since ancient times the sea has played a vital role in the daily life of the citizens of the peninsula of Qatar. Fishing is thus one of the ancient trades that the people of Qatar practiced to earn a living in the pre –oil era. There were different methods of fishing, such as Al-Maskar and Al-Hadhrah.

Al hadhrah is an enclosure made form palm fronds and robes made of plant fiber. It was used in shallow waters to catch certain kinds of fish such as Assafi.

Almaskar is a stone structure of various sizes in the sea.

Al maskar method relies on the tide movement. During an ebb an iron bar with a sharp end called the Nira, or the Sahila which is a net fixed with two pieces of wood on each side are used to catch fish entrapped in al maskar.

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. There were two diving seasons: the big dive, a two-month journey, and the small dive, a forty-day journey.

Both seasons fell between June and September. Among the tools the divers used were the scuttle, Al-futam, Al-falakah and stones.

With the discovery of oil in the 1930’s and the introduction of Japanese artificial pearls, pearl diving became unprofitable and people turned to earn their living from other less demanding activities.


Falconry is one of the most important hobbies of the Qatari people. Obsession with falconry as a hobby, is passed on from fathers to sons as people 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. Falcon hunting techniques differ from hunter to hunter depending on experience.

Falcon raising and training is also done by the hunters themselves. Training is carried out in various ways such as waving a mock prey or a rabbit tied to a thread, or a pigeon tied to a thread and allowed to fly.

The most important tools of falconry are the veil that covers the bird’s face; the leg tie and the gauntlet (Al-mankalah) on which the falcon sits while carried by its trainer, and the feed bag in which all tools and preys are put. The most famous types of falcons are the lanner, the peregrine and Al-wukri.

Popular games in Qatar…

Unlike what many would think, ancient Qataris never forgot leisure and recreation. They had games to play as adults and children. Children invested the most insignificant objects with any form they pleased. Although the games were mostly humble, they played an important role in stimulating, entertaining and preserving the social relations among these people. They also reflected the daily life of the Qataris at that time.

This heritage was handed over from generation to generation just as any other custom. Experts say that there were some 100 types of games in ancient Qatar played by both male and females, young and adults. These games were practiced during appropriate times.

All areas in the country had their own popular games and although some of them underwent some changes both in terms of governing rules and ways of play, most of them preserved the same characteristics.

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