Welcome to Min-On’s Music Journey! Today, the Min-On Concert Association and the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Japan welcome you to Qatar, a peninsula surrounded by the Persian Gulf.
“Qatar” comes from the Arabic word meaning “dot” or “droplet.” As its name suggests, Qatar is shaped like a droplet of water falling into the Persian Gulf and has a land area of 11,427 km squared – slightly smaller than Akita Prefecture in Japan.
|Travel guide for Qatar:
・Shop for Arabic souvenirs at the Souq Waqif market in Doha
Supported by the world’s third-largest reserves of oil and natural gas, Qatar’s capital of Doha and other cities continue to develop rapidly. Qatar is also focusing on developing its tourism industry – visitors can enjoy many activities like diving, adventure tours, desert safaris on ATVs and more.
|Music Journey Editorial Team’s Choice Artist: Fahad Al Kubaisi
Qatar hosted the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and Qatari singer, songwriter and producer Fahad Al Kubaisi gave a performance to highlight the opening ceremony, propelling him to worldwide fame.
Let’s begin today’s journey today with Fahad Al Kubaisi’s song “Sowalef Al Walah.” It was just released in 2023, and has already become popular both in Qatar and internationally.
Traditional and modern Arabic culture coexist in capital Doha
As the host of the 2022 World Cup, Doha built many different facilities for visitors and has rapidly developed into a highly advanced city. Even so, the desert reaches right up to the sides of its skyscrapers. The result is a unique, high-contrast landscape: a modern cityscape alongside the picturesque desert surrounded by the sea.
Doha has many interesting sights. One must-see location is The Pearl-Qatar, a town built on a man-made island on the outskirts of Doha. It has everything from shopping malls to restaurants to luxury hotels, making for a dazzling skyline at night.
At the same time, Qatar also values traditional culture. The Souq Waqif market sells traditional Arabic handicrafts and other Arabic goods and is a major tourist destination. This market also has traditional Arabic restaurants and hotels, allowing visitors to enjoy a classical Arabic atmosphere when in Doha.
The Qatari people and falconry
The Qatari people love sports, and falconry has long been an important part of Qatar’s culture. There are shops selling falcons in Souq Waqif, and veterinary hospitals specializing in treating falcons in Qatar, showing the importance of falconry to the lifestyle of the local people.
Distinctive, passionate festivals
There are many unique festivals in Qatar, and we’d like to feature some of the most distinctive ones today.
The Ajyal Film Festival
The Katara Cultural Village in Doha hosts this week-long film festival in late November. At this passionate event, people of all generations gather to discuss films, sharing their fascination for the world of cinema.
The locals have dubbed the festival “Ajyal,” which means “generations” in Arabic, symbolizing the hope that the youngest generation can express themselves here. The centerpiece of the festival is the Ajyal Competition, where hundreds of international participants from age 8 to 25 serve as the judges to determine the prize winners.
There are also many other events for people of all generations to enjoy, like cosplay and game tournaments.
Katara Traditional Dhow Festival
Katara holds this festival every December to celebrate the dhow, a type of boat that has sailed the Arabian Sea and surrounding waters for centuries. At the festival, the locals put over 70 traditional dhows of all sizes on display. Visitors can also enjoy watching fireworks over the ocean and taking a dhow ride.
The Doha Cultural Festival
This major event showcases traditional Qatari culture and arts. This festival has an extremely wide scope of performances and events – locations including public spaces, hotels, shopping centers and more throughout Doha host events including plays, music, dances and literary events.
People travel from all over the world to participate, and Japan has hosted booths at the festival for visitors to try Japanese cultural experiences like matcha, pressed flowers, origami and more. One of the most popular aspects of Qatari culture is the reciting of songs and poems, reflecting the country’s rich oratory traditions.
Qatari musical culture and art
The modern-day Qatari people are thought to have descended from Arabs who migrated to the region during the 16th to 18th centuries. As a result, the local music and traditional culture has a lot in common with other Arab nations.
As for Qatari traditional instruments, one popular example is the rabab (rubab), a traditional Arabic instrument. It is a single-stringed instrument played with a bow, and it’s also called “the poet’s rabab,” since it was often used by minstrels to accompany their vocals.
Visitors to Qatar can also enjoy a diverse collection of Islamic works of art at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. After enjoying the beautiful museum building itself, which looks as if it’s floating on the sea, move inside to take in many incredible works of art. The entire experience can be paired with a visit to the museum restaurant that serves Mediterranean cuisine with an Arabic flair.
Musicians recommended by the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Japan
In closing, we would like to introduce musicians recommended by the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Japan.
- Garangao ―Abdul Aziz Nasser Ahmed Al-Obaidan
- Standing at your door ―Faraj Abdel Karim
- Ya Nas Ahba ―Ali Abdel Sattar
- Allah, Ya Omri Qatar
- Qatar National Day 2020 song ―Fahad Al Kubaisi
Finally, please check out the video below that offers the experience of an amazing day trip in Qatar.
What did you think of your music journey to Qatar? There are still many more places to go! Please look forward to our next destination.
(Produced in collaboration with the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Japan, who also provided photos.)
Min-On Concert Association
－Music Binds Our Hearts－