From a distance it could be a scene from Qatar’s ancient past, long before the country’s modern-day wealth was secured by the discovery of gas and oil. Several kilometres (miles) off the coast of southern Qatar, five traditional dhow boats bob gently up and down on the becalmed blue-green waters of the Gulf. On board each vessel are a number of gawas, or pearl divers. In the midday heat, divers take it in turns to swim the six metres (20 feet) or so to the sea bottom unaided to find pearl oysters. The strongest can stay underwater for about 90 seconds before returning, breathless, to the surface, hopefully with a net full of pearls, or lulus as they known in Arabic. This is not some romanticised recreation of the past but Qatar’s biggest annual pearl diving event, the ‘Senyar’. And just like their pearl diving predecessors,

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