Arts & Culture

Q Life

The beauty and history of amber misbahas

September 2021

Hamad Al Sulaiti

As a child, Hamad Al Sulaiti would be enthralled by the shells that washed up on the beach shore. Questions about their origins, their formation, and their age would pop into his head. His father noticed Hamad’s curious nature and took him on a trip deep into Qatar’s deserts, to dive deeper into the country’s fossilised past.

This young interest developed into a lifelong passion for Hamad, who has since dedicated himself to the study of fossils and gemstones. The dream of starting a business specialising in amber and gemstones always lingered in the back of Hamad’s mind, and it finally became a reality after being encouraged by his wife.

“With the support of my wife, we put together a plan and started an online business at first. A few months later I opened my first shop in Souq Waqif Doha,” he says. ‘Karham’ quickly became a popular spot in the market, and has gone on to open a second branch in the Katara Cultural Village.

One of the most popular products are the misbaha, prayer beads commonly used in Islam to glorify God. The Amber gemstone is popularly used to create these prayer beads.

“My dad and most Qataris use misbaha. Qataris love Amber misbahas as they release a fragrant smell of lemon and pine when rubbed, and they call this ‘Karham’.”

The creation of the perfect prayer beads starts by selecting the right materials. The material must be a good-sized thickness and have no natural cracks in its body, which makes amber an ideal option. It is then handcrafted by talented artisan to transform it into the prayer beads.

“The design is inspired by different concepts found in Islam. The top of the misbaha is shaped as a minaret, a smaller-sized bead is the ‘tamleeka’, that is moved to mark the 99th count, and the rest of the beads can be shaped differently, such as round or square.”

Hamad considers being able to share his passion for amber and gemstones with others as the biggest achievement of his career. “My personal goals are to transfer my life and technical knowledge and experience to others. I am proud to achieve this and will continue to do that.”