Qatar was closely connected to the world in early 19th century

 07 Dec 2017 - 8:20

Qatar was closely connected to the world in early 19th century
Archeological dig near the Souq Waqif as part of ‘Old Doha Rescue Excavation’ project.

By Fazeena Saleem | The Peninsula

In a pioneering effort to know the origins of Doha, archaeologists have found that the Qatar was closely connected with the world back in early 19th century as well as people were resilient to rapid changes. 

UCL Qatar and Qatar Museums (QM )unveiled the findings of their joint project ‘Old Doha Rescue Excavation’ on Tuesday during a public lecture ‘The History Beneath Your Feet,’ which gave an insight to the past of Doha and its people. 

The research has uncovered evidence that shows Qatar has always been globally connected and how the pearl trade – considered for centuries a luxury item in the West – led to the importation of foreign goods such as ceramics from Europe and Far East.

“People of Doha were very closely connected to the world economy, and they were not living in a isolation place. So they were well within the global network, quite early,” Professor Robert Carter, Professorial Research Fellow, UCL Qatar told The Peninsula speaking on the sidelines of the lecture. 

During the lecture Professor Carter was joined by Dr Ferhan Sakal, Head of Archaeological Operations at QM and discussed the work their teams had carried out at the archeological dig near the Souq Waqif. 

Dr Ferhan Sakal, Head of Archaeological Operations at Qatar Museums, and Professor Robert Carter, Professorial Research Fellow at UCL Qatar, during the lecture. Pic: Baher Amin/The Peninsula


This has allowed archeologists explore the undocumented lives of the people of Doha, from the foundation of the town at the start of the 19th century through to the first impact of oil in the 1950s.

Archeological finds such as pottery, kitchen hardware, glassware, food remains, jewellery, coins, pearl-fishing, merchant’s equipment which has led to know about the people’s lives and economic existence within the urban environment.

According to Professor Carter the finds the most oldest to be documented includes coins and pieces of ceramics form the early 19th century. 

During the lecture, speakers said that over last two hundred years there have been at least four instances where the people of Doha resolved to rebuild the city from scratch. It was also highlighted that how Doha’s initial development, as with many of the biggest hubs in the Gulf, was inspired by the Pearl Fishing industry. It is believed that from the early 19th century, the Gulf provided around 80 percent of the world’s pearls, with Qatar being a foremost player in the region.

“Today’s Doha reflects a process of adaptability and development that has been in place for hundreds of years. This study informs us about the living experiences of the people before us, and how Qatar was intimately connected to global networks – global patterns of trade, economics and consumption. It shows us how the distant and recent inhabitants of the town rose to the challenges which occur from living in a once geographically isolated place – factual evidence of which has been hitherto absent from historical sources. Building, buying and global expansion is not new to the people of Qatar,” said Professor Carter. 

The joint research ‘Old Doha Rescue Excavation’ was supported by Qatar National Research Fund. The lecture took place as part of the monthly UCL Qatar Public Lectures Series.