The Qatari Folk Tales

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Have you ever heard the story about the evil sea monster that drowns ships and kills sailors? How about the story of the evil woman with the donkey feet? Or the story of the crazy monster that likes to eat small children and has palm leaves for hair? If you answered ‘no’ to all these questions then you’re probably not familiar with Qatari folktale.

But you should be.

If you’re Qatari, live in Qatar, plan on visiting, or even just have the teeniest interest in the country, you should know its folktale because they not only tell a lot about Qatar’s culture and heritage, but they also offer a unique knowledge of its precious history. A folktale, according to the Oxford English Dictionary definition, is “a story that originated in popular culture, typically passed on by word of mouth.” It is the unwritten tale that was passed from one generation to another, from elders to children, and contains knowledge about the culture’s storytelling traditions. Qatari folktales transmit cultural understanding, beliefs, morals and values. They are important to know – now more than ever – because they are beginning to disappear from the Qatari society, especially with the rapid changes in lifestyles the society is experiencing in these last several years.

In typical Qatari culture, there are many stories that include different mythical characters that were told by the older generations. Unfortunately, these stories have been forgotten and have disappeared from our lives, possibly forever. However, some stories that were adapted and mentioned in plays, movies, and television shows remain, and are probably the only stories today’s generation are familiar with.

The first popular Qatari folktale is the story of Bu Daryah. The story of Bu Daryah is not only present in Qatari folklore, but also in the Emirati, Kuwaiti, and Bahraini folklore as well, due to the countries’ close proximity and shared traditions and beliefs. There are many different versions of the same story,...
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