WATCH: QL Adventures - a visit with veteran pearl diver Pahlwan

WATCH: QL Adventures - a visit with veteran pearl diver Pahlwan

QL Videos
By QL Videos

Shaun from our Qatar Living team was lucky enough to interview one of Qatar’s few remaining local veteran pearl divers, Saad Ismail Al Jassim, nicknamed ‘Pahlwan’

Pahlwan’s pearl shop is a famous stop at Doha’s Souq Waqif, partly because it is run by a former pearl diver with knowledge of and a connection to Qatar’s history as a nation known for its pearl diving.

Before the discovery of oil and natural gas in the region, the people of this peninsula depended heavily upon collecting and selling pearls for their livelihood.

Pahlwan was kind enough to give us a rundown of how pearl diving was conducted, with the help of a captain, crew, divers, and a special singer who kept the rowers motivated and working in time.

The old diver explained how diving was a dangerous business born of necessity, as for many Qataris it was their primary source of income.

Divers could spend up to three minutes underwater holding their breath in search of oysters. They would go under for up to eight bouts before coming back to the boat for a rest, alternating in turns until the day’s end, when they opened the oysters to scrape out possible pearls, and then head home.

The pearls were given to the captain. Pearl traders bought the precious orbs from the captain, with value determined by several factors, including weight, colour and the absence of imperfections.

The pearl shop in Souq Waqif was given to him by the Father Emir HH Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.

Pahlwan earned his nickname as a wrestler and body builder. He also spent time as a footballer, and worked 28 years as a police officer in Qatar’s civil defence.

All in all, Pahlwan is a definite Jack of all trades, and it’s worth stopping by his shop next time you’re at Souq Waqif just to experience a piece of the country’s heritage for yourself.

Log in or register to post comments

More from Qatar Living

Qatar’s top beaches for water sports thrills

Qatar’s top beaches for water sports thrills

Let's dive into the best beaches in Qatar, where you can have a blast with water activities, sports and all around good times.
Most Useful Apps In Qatar - Part Two

Most Useful Apps In Qatar - Part Two

This guide brings you the top apps that will simplify the use of government services in Qatar.
Most Useful Apps In Qatar - Part One

Most Useful Apps In Qatar - Part One

this guide presents the top must-have Qatar-based apps to help you navigate, dine, explore, access government services, and more in the country.
Winter is coming – Qatar’s seasonal adventures await!

Winter is coming – Qatar’s seasonal adventures await!

Qatar's winter months are brimming with unmissable experiences, from the AFC Asian Cup 2023 to the World Aquatics Championships Doha 2024 and a variety of outdoor adventures and cultural delights.
7 Days of Fun: One-Week Activity Plan for Kids

7 Days of Fun: One-Week Activity Plan for Kids

Stuck with a week-long holiday and bored kids? We've got a one week activity plan for fun, learning, and lasting memories.
Wallet-friendly Mango Sticky Rice restaurants that are delightful on a budget

Wallet-friendly Mango Sticky Rice restaurants that are delightful on a budget

Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a sweet escape into the world of budget-friendly Mango Sticky Rice that's sure to satisfy both your cravings and your budget!
Places to enjoy Mango Sticky Rice in  high-end elegance

Places to enjoy Mango Sticky Rice in high-end elegance

Delve into a world of culinary luxury as we explore the upmarket hotels and fine dining restaurants serving exquisite Mango Sticky Rice.
Where to celebrate World Vegan Day in Qatar

Where to celebrate World Vegan Day in Qatar

Celebrate World Vegan Day with our list of vegan food outlets offering an array of delectable options, spanning from colorful salads to savory shawarma and indulgent desserts.