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5 November 2019

Students inspired by heritage at first Sea Festival

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Event at Qatar Academy Al Khor held under Takamul Initiative, with aim of forging stronger school connections

Qatar’s maritime heritage has been celebrated at the Northern Cities First Sea Festival, organized by one of Qatar Foundation’s schools.

The festival at Qatar Academy Al Khor (QAK), part of Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Pre-University Education, was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, and saw more than 15 schools from the north of Qatar participate alongside public and government entities

It is part of QAK’s Takamul initiative, which focuses on twinning schools and community schools, and aims to build partnerships between Qatar’s northern schools in the sphere of education and other fields.

The Sea Festival showcased various forms of maritime heritage through live performances and shows, such as the operetta ‘Al-Serdal’, performed by QF member Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, and ‘Ghais Qatar’ – a presentation on Qatar’s pearl diving heritage - which was presented by Hamad Juma Al Sulaiti, Head of the Dhow Division at the Private Engineering Office.

It also included marine-themed heritage activities, and illustrations of historic Qatari houses, traditional costumes, Qatari cuisine, and students’ paintings. Attendees included Mrs. Buthaina Ali Al Nuami, President of Pre-University Education, QF, and representatives of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, Quodorat Center, and the Protection and Social Rehabilitation Centre (AMAN).

“The idea for the Takamul initiative emerged from the community partnership between government schools, Qatar Academy Al Khor, and other entities in the north of Qatar,” said Aisha Al-Maqbali, Director of QAK.

It aims to consolidate aspects of Qatari heritage in northern cities, where maritime heritage and history are most prominent, and engage the community.

Aisha Al-Maqbali

“There is recognition of a gap between Qatar Academy Al Khor as a QF private school, and other government schools in this area. We are working towards removing these barriers, through an initiative that aims to enhance collaboration among northern schools by involving them in many diverse events.

“We have proposed the idea of the Takamul initiative to the leadership of northern schools and – following extensive efforts supported by Qatar Foundation and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education - we have looked into ways of eliminating any obstacles that students at northern schools face in the context of education, community, and culture.”

Ms. Al-Maqbali explained that the Sea Festival is the largest event to be held under the Takamul initiative to date, saying: “It aims to consolidate aspects of Qatari heritage in northern cities, where maritime heritage and history are most prominent, and engage the community – something that Qatar Foundation is committed to promoting - while preserving heritage and keeping up with modernity.

"We have seen a great turnout from students to participate in this festival, who recognized that there is a need to highlight this aspect of our heritage. When we first proposed this idea, students demonstrated a high level of interest in celebrating their Qatari heritage, in order to pass this onto the generations who will follow them.”

It is very important that we participate in these festivals that aim to preserve Qatari heritage as we seek to pass it to the next generation.

Nasser Suhaim

The operetta ‘Al-Serdal’ combined dramatic performance and marine musical art to reflect the relationship between the Qatari people and the sea, and painted a picture of the history of life in Qatar and the Arabian Gulf. It included a performance by Qatari artist Nasser Suhaim, Deputy Executive Director of Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, which blended emotions related to the past with future aspirations and a sense of pride – taking the audience back to the time of their ancestors, when tears were shed and prayers said for pearl divers.

“It is very important that we participate in these festivals that aim to preserve Qatari heritage as we seek to pass it to the next generation,” said Suhaim. “We focused on using folk musical instruments along with modern ones, mixing the cultures of the past and the present, fostering musical heritage, and demonstrating that music can function as an academic and educational bridge between cultures.”

There were also performances by students from QAK and other northern schools, inspired by local maritime heritage, including a dialogue between a child and his father about the past terminology used in Qatari marine life in the past and its meanings.

Abdul Rahman Mohammed Ibrahim Al Mohannadi, a QAK student, said: "This festival encourages students to learn more about their customs, traditions and national history, especially pearl diving in ancient times.

The festival included performances by students from local schools, inspired by the nation’s maritime heritage.

“It is important to educate students and urge them to discover their heritage, raise their awareness about the vernacular we inherited from our ancestors, and preserve this legacy.”

Aisha Al Suwaidi, from Quodorat Center, also participated in the live shows, and highlighted the role of Qatari women in facing life’s challenges in a time when the sea was families’ only life resource. protecting their home and children, and preserving values and traditions while sustaining faith and hope. She also shared her personal experience with the students, and advised them to be “brave, strong and patience, just like your ancestors”.

After he live shows, primary-level students from QAK presented paintings and school projects inspired by the maritime heritage and environment. Student Al Jawhara Nasser said: “We have been taught, at school and with our families, about the Qatari terminology of the past and its meanings. Now we are here to help protect our sea from pollution and to preserve our heritage”.

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The Northern Cities First Sea Festival celebrated Qatar’s maritime past.

Fellow QAK student Saud Jumaa said: “We want to explore our heritage and Qatar’s marine life, and we are very happy to be here at this festival to meet students from all northern schools”.

Explaining the special nature of the Qatar Academy Al Khor Corner at the festival’s exhibition, Sheikha Mohsen Al Shammari, Arabic language teacher at QAK, said: “It is a mixture between heritage and modernity, where heritage is reflected in ancient maritime tools and photographs of cruises, and modernity can be seen on through digital screens displaying students’ school projects that serve the Qatari environment.

And Hessa Al Mohannadi, Physical Education Specialist at Al Khor Independent School for Boys, said: “This festival was an opportunity for students to explore Qatari heritage in the northern coastal area, and present their creative artworks through interaction in these activities. We have designed an illustration of an old Qatari house derived from the Bedouin and urban environments, in addition to the Qatari kitchen, which traditionally always been relying on marine resources in the north.”

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