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Music of Qatar

The music of Qatar is based on sea folk poetry, song and dance. Traditional dances in Doha are performed on Friday afternoons; one such dance is the Ardah, a stylized martial dance performed by two rows of dancers who are accompanied by an array of percussion instruments, including al-ras (a large drum whose leather is heated by an open fire), tambourines and cymbals with small drums. Other folk instruments include the oud and rebaba, both string instruments, as well as the ney.

Folk music

Sea music

File:Arab pearl divers in the Persian Gulf.jpg
Pearl diving in the Persian Gulf

Work songs relating to the sea are the most recurrent type of folk music, particularly songs pertaining to pearl hunting.[1][2] Each song, varying in rhythm, would narrate 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. Singing was used to encourage crew members to work harder during the pearling drip, in addition to providing entertainment while they were resting.[1] Women were not included in this form of singing, except for when returning pearl ships were sighted.[1] In this case, they would gather around the seashore where they would clap and sing about the hardships of pearl diving.[3]


Women primarily sang songs relating to work activities such as wheat grinding. Some songs were of general themes, while others were of specific processes.[3] Public performances by women were practiced only on two annual occasions. The first was al-moradah, which involved women and girls of all social classes gathering in a secluded area in the desert where they would sing and dance in embroidered clothes. This was usually done in the weeks preceding Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.[3] The practice was abandoned in the 1950s. The second occasion of collective public singing is known as al-ashori, which refers to performances during weddings. It is still practiced by some classes of Qatari society.[4]


File:Jenadriyah 27 (12).JPG
Ardah in Saudi Arabia

Ardah, a folkloric dance done while wielding a sword, is still practiced in Qatar.[5]

Folk instruments

Percussion instruments are most popular in Qatari folk music. Galahs, a tall clay jar, was commonly used as a musical instrument by pearl fishermen. Tin drinking cups known as tus or tasat were also used, usually in conjunction with a tabl, a longitudinal drum beaten with a stick.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Abu Saud, Abeer (1984). Qatari Women: Past and Present. p. 146. ISBN 978-0582783720. 
  2. ^ "Qatari folk music entertains Doha mall-goers". Qatar Tribune. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Abu Saud, p. 147
  4. ^ Abu Saud, p. 149
  5. ^ "Arts and Culture". Embassy of Qatar in London. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  6. ^ "Heritage and Culture". Qatar e-Gov. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 

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