Women's silver ring, known as al mihbas, set with a carved red stone
20th century
Object Name: Ring, mihbas
Period: 20th century
Date: 1900-1999
Provenance: Qatar
Dimensions: 2.48cm x 1.95cm x 1.65cm, weight: 6.99g
Medium: silver,glass
Registration Number: QNM.2012.472.1
This kind of women's silver ring is known as mihbas. Such a ring was customarily worn from a young age on the ring finger, and then moved over to the little finger as the girl grew up. This kind is rarely worn today, and only by older women. This example consists of a wide band with an oval setting containing an engraved red stone, probably glass. The engraving on the stone shows a crescent and a star, a common motif in the Islamic world. Silver jewellery was common before the export of oil began in 1950, after which greater wealth allowed for more gold jewellery to be purchased.
The Qatar Peninsula is surrounded by sea except in the south where it connects with its neighbours from the Arabian Peninsula. For hundreds of years people have shared the land, resources and knowledge inherited from their environment. With no fixed lifestyle in terms of time and place, people moved easily and freely between land and sea for trade, livestock, pearl diving, fishing, and hunting at various times throughout the year. This symbiotic relationship between the people and their environment was represented in the unity of their societies, including the exchange of knowledge, stories and the trading of available goods.

A distinctive characteristic of life on the Qatar Peninsula has long been the close association between the coast and the desert – al barr. Some desert tribes spent several months of the year in coastal cities, setting up semi-permanent residences to participate in pearl diving or fishing. Similarly, coastal residents occasionally moved to al barr during the winter to graze their livestock. This exchange of natural resources and the influence of different environments has contributed to the creation of a unique community.
The presence of British, French and Dutch trading companies in the Gulf from the early 1600s brought uncertainty to the region, with unstable alliances and intense competition over trade routes. As trade flourished, however, the strength of the Arab tribes increased. Many Arab tribes moved from the interior of the Arabian Peninsula to Qatar, and by the 18th and 19th centuries, most of the major towns of the Gulf were founded. Several towns flourished on the Qatari coast, including Huwailah, Khor Hassan, Fuwairat, Ruwaida, Freiha, Al Bidda and Doha. The most notable was Al Zubara which became a hub for the Gulf pearl trade.