Om Hamad telling us about her passion for embroidery and weave and how she got her first piece of cloth done at the age of 15…
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- Om Hamad telling us how she first got into the world of embroidery at the age of 10…
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- Om Hamad working and describing the happiness she feels to work at this age…
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- Om Hamad proudly showing a sample of her work and explaining the patience it takes to get it done…
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- Om Hamad, 80, an artist and a shopkeeper at Souq Waqif telling her life story…
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She was 10 when she first used the needle and the thread. Back then, she did not realize that Embroidery would become her passion in life.
“I used to watch my mother sewing and my older sister too. I used to love it, and I couldn’t wait to do it myself,” said Om Hamad, 80, a Qatari shopkeeper and an artist in Souq Waqif, Qatar.
“I finished my first piece of work at the age of 15. I cried when I first saw it. I was very proud,” added Om Hamad.
Om Hamad was raised in a very traditional Qatari environment, where going to school was not an option for girls and women would not work outside of the house. “Embroidery and handcrafting were the common occupations for us,” she said.
After crafting the final pieces, the men of the house would sell them to different people trying to make some profit out of this activity.
Embroidery, however, was not the only skill that Om Hamad had—she also had the gift of weaving.
“Colors are what attracted me to weave: you would see the red and green threads interweaving at right angles to form a beautifully crafted fabric,” said Om Hamad.
She was only 17 when she discovered this new passion: Om Hamad would spend hours and hours sitting in front of the big loom shedding, picking and battening the thread before she would be able to see any of the fabric turning to an actual piece of cloth.
“I didn’t mind the hard work that came with it—that’s how much I loved it. I wouldn’t be alone any way. My mother and my older sister would be sitting next to me. We would talk all the time, and sometimes drink some tea,” said Om Hamad. “I miss that,” she added.
Being raised in this environment had a big influence on Om Hamad’s attachment to Qatari traditions and culture.
“I remember when my mother passed away, all I had left was the loom, the needle and the threads,” Om Hamad said. “At that time, I had my own family, but I kept working, and having my own shop became my dream,” she added.
Coming from a very limited-income family, Om Hamad waited until 2006 for the ramifications that were established in Souq Waqif to have her own shop.
“The Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and his wife were the ones who helped me to get this tiny shop,” said Om Hamad.
The pride that came with keeping the culture alive and introducing the new generations to the old aspects of Qatar is what kept Om Hamad working at this advanced age. She saw the traditions being swept away with time, and she felt it was her duty to keep them alive.
“Sometimes young people come to me and ask me if I’m the one who makes these pieces,” said Om Hamad. “I smile and I nod. Sometimes they ask further questions and sometimes they just say that it seems really hard to make it.”
Today Om Hamad does not need her shop to survive; she needs it to stay alive. “My kids can afford feeding me and buying me clothes. I’m just working because I love what I’m doing. This is who I am,” she said.
Her passion for culture kept her alive and her love for tradition is giving her the strength to work at the age of 80; this is what she wants the young generations to see in her.
“When you come back here and find the shop closed, that’s when you should know that I have passed away,” said Om Hamad.