One of Qatar’s most famous folktales tells the gruesome story of Bu Draeyah, better known as ‘The Father of the Sea’. Half man and half sea creature, the evil water djinn terrorises unsuspecting seafarers, fishermen, and pearl divers who earn their living from the sea. In the night, the mythical monster rises from the depths to devour the sleeping occupants onboard their vessels.
As chaos reigns, Bu Draeyah causes destruction and mayhem, often overturning boats and destroying the precious cargo collected by the occupants. Back in the day, it’s no wonder the tale frightened sailors to stand guard at night for fear of an unsuspecting attack from the legendary sea monster.
Before the discovery of oil, Qatar was a busy maritime centre for the trading of fish and pearls. Men would sail for months and dive into the warm waters for their prized catch. The Persian Gulf, home to several marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, supplied abundant aquatic life and livelihood for its citizens. Nowadays, national folktales such as Bu Draeyah reflect the important connection of the sea to sustenance and trade. No doubt, Qatar’s coral reefs provided a sanctuary and breeding ground for a bountiful array of aquatic life.