The Significance of Pearls to Qatar

When you visit Doha, you are bound to see the giant pearl (pictured above) along the Corniche. That simple pearl is not random art but rather a reminder of Qatar’s pre-oil history.

Before discovering oil in 1939, the main source of income for many Qataris came from pearl diving. Pearl diving was quite a dangerous endeavour. Divers would venture out to sea for months in crowded ships, which meant that illnesses quickly spread. Malnutrition was common as they had little access to food. The dive itself would be brief, lasting for about two minutes or however long they could hold their breath. The divers would dive down equipped only with a nose clip, a basket and weights. While under the water, sea predators such as barracudas and sharks would become a new threat. It was not necessarily ideal working conditions to say the least.

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