The Arabian Gulf has been the site for rich oyster beds and plentiful pearl harvests that led to the rise of the Arabian pearl industry by the mid-17th century. “Al Tawash”, an ancient term meaning Pearl Merchant, who finances pearling voyages headed by the “Al Nokhadha” – the Captain – during the diving season, in search of the sea’s prized treasure- the pearl. Pearling was the region’s premier industry and source of livelihood at the time, with the pearl becoming one of the most important aspect of Arabian heritage.
The pearl industry has played an integral role in the Gulf community for hundreds of years; no other gem has enjoyed such historical significance. Al Tawash Gallery revolves around Hussain Alfardan’s passion for natural pearls, highlighting his commitment to preserve its history and revive an important cornerstone of Qatari heritage. Through his efforts and dedication, essential information of this once vital way of life in the Gulf is now relived as an integral part of Qatari history which will be preserved for generations to come.
Each pearl has an individual ‘personality’; it has purity, color, shape, size and luster that is different from others and does not have a particularly neat shape. It is because the pearl is formed by nature itself, and no two natural pearls can be identical. The highest-quality pearls in the world are those extracted from the Arabian Gulf, as the oyster beds enjoyed perfect conditions: hot weather, sufficient depth of water, in addition to an abundance of marine life. From these pearl diving voyages in the Gulf, the pearls were sold to leading Indian merchants, who sent them to Bombay to be drilled by hand. The Maharaja’s and Europeans, with their limitless inclination toward pearls, were their foremost buyers.
During the 1930’s, the Second World War and the emergence of cultured pearls along with the discovery of Qatar’s hydrocarbon resources led to the decline in pearl diving as the main source of livelihood in the country; but the legacy of the pearl remains strong. The fascination with the pearl lies in its history and unrivalled beauty and the value of the natural pearl has soared dramatically due to its rarity.