Pearls of the Past

“Those without a past are without a present.”

In the early 20th century, most of Qatar relied on the sea for its income. Historically, pearl driving had been a major driver of the economy, but with the discovery of oil in 1940 came a drastic change in the landscape of the Gulf. Large-scale oil production facilities burgeoned across the region, and the traditional pearling industry had all but disappeared from the Gulf’s coastal waters by the early 1950s.

Fast forward to today: in the span of a century, Qatar has grown from its small population of 27,000 to 2.7 million, its skyline scattered with glittering buildings, its dhow ships along the coastline used more frequently for leisure rather than supporting the local economy.

What was once a humble economy now boasts the highest income per capita in the world.   

In Pearls of the Past, Qatar’s past and present come to a head as a young man learns to pearl dive. The memories and lived history of the older generation are juxtaposed with that of the younger generation, who have known nothing other than an oil rich economy.