ME705 - Al Bidd'a (Doha) harbour, Qatar
This delightful little survey of the harbour of Doha or 'Al Bidda', was completed between 1858 & 1860 by Commander (later, Captain) Charles Golding Constable - second son of the celebrated British landscape artist, John Constable.
- C.G. Constable
- h7.7" x w12.2"
The following notes on 'Al Bidder' (now Doha) and Qatar are taken directly from the 1864 (first edition) Pilot Guide to the Arabian Coastline written by C. G. Constable himself along with his co-author and surveyor A. W. Stiffe . The guide was published on behalf of the British Admiralty and was intended as a revision to the earlier 1833-1848 guide which itself had followed the original survey of 1823-1825 conducted by the G. B. Brucks, R. Cogan, J. M. Guy on behalf of the Honorable East India Company Marine.
In the guide Constable and Stiffe describe both the sailing directions and hydrography of the coast. Constable himself was careful enough to go ashore at every coastal town to ascertain the Arabic names of the settlements as well as to gather as much information about the people, geography and economy of the places. As such this 'pilot' guide stands today as one of the most accurate sources of historical information about life in Qatar and other parts of the Arabian Gulf on record from these times.
Of Doha and Al Bidd'a Constable writes: 'DOHEH is a town partly walled round, with several towers, half a mile S. W. by W. from Ras Nesseh: it extends about 800 yards along the beach. The Sheïk’s house is at a large round tower (with a flagstaff) on the beach, about the centre of the town; to the west of this tower is a small bight, where boats are hauled up to repair. The reef dries off a quarter of a mile from the shore opposite this place. Between this town and Al Bidda’, and almost connected with Doheh, is a distinct town, recently built, called Doheh Saghíreh (Little Doheh), which has a new square fort at the south-west corner, built on the rising ground at the back of the town. AL BIDA’ – There is only 400 yards open space between this town and Little Doheh: the three towns together extend one mile along the coast. Bida’ is built up the side of the rising ground: there is a fort in the town, where the Sheïkh’s flag is shown, and two towers on the highest part of the land behind the town, one of which is the first thing seen from the sea. One mile and a half away to the south-eastward of the town is a tower near the wells, with a little cultivation; with this exception the whole country is desert. The Sheïkh of Al Bida’, who is under Bahreïn, has some authority over the chiefs of the other two towns. The three towns together may contain the 5,000 inhabitants, of the Uttúbí tribe. They are constantly at feud with the Bedúín, and it is not safe to be outside the walls after dark. They are also often molested by the Wahebbí chief, whose capital, Ríyáz, is 7 days’ journey inland. Water is dear here and indifferent; the best is brought in skins from the desert, some distance from the town. There are few supplies. Firewood is brought from the the interior, and also from Clarence straight. They have no large baghalahs, but many pearl boats, and the inhabitants are all employed in the pearl fishery.'
. C. G. Constable & A. W. Stiffe. The Persian Gulf Pilot. First Edition, Including the Gulf of 'Oman compiled by C. G. Constable and A. W. Stiffe. Published London. Admiralty 1864.
- Al Bidd'a (Doha) harbour, Qatar