We might be two years away from the next FIFA World Cup, but with a sporting event this huge, the hype is set to kick off well before that. And Malta’s getting its first taste of all that from an unlikely place; the sea.
Tomorrow, Sliema will be treated to a rare sight thanks to the arrival of the Fath El Kheir, a 40-metre-long dhow, captained by Qatari sailing master Mohammed Yousuf Al Sada.
A traditional Qatari boat that was first launched in 2013, the Fath El Kheir is a long way from home. In fact, this is the first-ever trip of a ship of its kind in our region, a feat made possible thanks to modern navigation and improvements of onboard accommodation.
The arrival of Fath El Kheir in Sliema marks the 16th (and final) stop on the dhow’s 2019 Europe Trip.
This is actually the fourth journey of its kind, with the first one back in 2013 seeing the Fath El Kheir travel from Qatar to the Gulf States.
Led by sailing master Hassan bin Issa Al Kaabi, 44 young but experienced sailors navigated to the harbours of five different countries in 27 days, returning home just in time for the Qatar National Day celebrations.
In October 2014, Al Kaabi and the Fath El Kheir returned to the sea for a journey from Qatar to India. A much more ambitious voyage, this took just over a year, with the traditional vessel returning to Doha by November 2015 for the fifth edition of the Katara Traditional Dhows Festival.
In fact, it’s the Katara Traditional Dhows Festival that is at the heart of this unique endeavour. Founded just under a decade ago in 2010, the festival aims at reviving the heritage of the ancestors in travelling and navigating through the gliding dhows, preserving the Qatari heritage by teaching the youth how to navigate and travel by sailing these unique ships.
In November 2017, Fath El Kheir was back, this time captained by young sailing master Mohammed Yousuf Al Sada, for a journey from Katara Beach to Kuwait and Oman. The historical journey carried with it the message of love and peace symbolising cultural unity, and it is this awesome crew and its young master captain who have returned to the seas
On Tuesday afternoon, at 5pm, the Fath El Kheir will arrive in Malta for a well-deserved rest
The famous dhow will be greeted by H.E. Dr. Khalid bin Ibrahim Al Sulaiti, General Manager of Katara, Mr. Khalid Abel, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of the State of Qatar in the Republic of Malta, various Maltese dignitaries, and Mr. Anthony Chircop, mayor of Sliema.
“We believed very strongly in the Fath Al Khair project and worked hard to bring this to Malta on its final port call of its 2019 cruise itinerary. This reflects the close brotherly relationships between the peoples of Malta
and Qatar and we look forward to build more on this” Mr. Khalid Abel said. “We invite the Maltese public and tourists to visit this masterpiece of Qatar’s cultural heritage and enjoy all it has to offer” he added.
The dhow will be open to the public free of charge after its 5pm arrival, and all day on the 25th and 26th September.
Visitors will be able to experience what has practically become a floating museum of Qatar’s rich marine heritage… while also checking out presentations on the FIFA 2022 World Cup on the onboard screens, of course.
The Fath El Kheir will remain moored in Malta for the next months, before starting off its fifth voyage in June 2020.