Everday women’s garment called thaub mufaha
20th century
Object Name: Dress, thaub mufahah
Period: 20th century
Date: 1900-1999
Provenance: Qatar
Dimensions: Top left to right:1730 -Hem Edge left to Right:1420
Medium: cotton,silk
Registration Number: QNM.2011.108.1
This women’s garment is called thaub mufaha and is made from three colours in addition to the principal colour which is usually black or dark indigo. It follows the same pattern and cut as the thaub al-nashel and is usually worn over a fitted dress called the dirra'ah. The thaub is very loose, almost square in shape, providing ease and freedom of movement. It would have been used as an everyday garment. The thick cotton used in this robe is of a type that used to be imported from the Levant or Egypt.

This type of robe with its distinctive colours, emerged in the Najd and Qasim and then spread to the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula. In the past, it was made locally from finely spun black wool and was lined with shiny silk in two or more colours. Representations from Islamic and pre-Islamic times reveal Bedouin women wearing a woollen robe with the same cut. Because of the isolation of the desert, Bedouin women have continued to make and wear this kind of robe, regardless of the changes that have come into the region since the 1930s.
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.