Simaisma is a small and sleepy coastal village n in Al Dayeen Municipality, a village built in the 19th century by fishermen and pearl divers, dates back to 1938. The village can be accessed easily from Al Khor Highway, some 20.8 km from the start of highway from Doha. Turn off right after Simaisma Overpass (with Qatargas logo on the middle supporting pillar) and follow the road for some 2.4 km to reach the village. Simaisma measures of just about 1 km x 1.6 km. Apart from old Simaisma Mosque very little to see in this town. A beach is like a meeting point for dwellers but it is not quite attractive. If you walk south, and the tide is low, you can see the “hadra,” which are traditional intertidal fishing traps. These square traps have stones on three sides with an open side toward the shore. As the tide rises fish swim inside, and as the tide goes back out they become trapped.
25° 34′ 28.78″N 51° 29′ 16.08″E
The mosque served as a place for prayer, but also a center for education. In front of the prayer room, a pavilion housed a “madrassa”: a school used to teach the Holy Quran to children. The prayer room stands on the west side of the courtyard.
In front of the prayer room’s entrance is an “iwan,” or portico, with nine squared arcades overlooking the courtyard. The prayer room is a long, carpeted corridor discreetely lit by narrow windows. The “mehrab,” in front of the entrance, indicates the direction of the “Kaaba,” the Holy Stone at Mecca, Saudi Arabia. In this mosque, the “mehrab” consists of two arches, one of which houses a “minbar,” or podium. Normally the “imam,” who is responsible for leading prayer, stands facing the congregation in front of the “mehrab”.
In front of the prayer room, a pavilion houses a “madrassa,” which is a school used to teach the Holy Quran to children. The old Quranic school stands at the northeast corner of the “sahn,” or courtyard. No longer functioning as a school, the structure has been used most recently as a residence for the “muezzin,” who is responsible for the call to prayer.
The pavilion consists of a small room cooled with “badjeer,” traditional Qatari air traps, instead of ordinary windows. This system features two parallel walls: one standing from the floor to halfway up and the second hanging halfway down from the ceiling. The walls overlap by 10 cm, with breathing room left between. Although this method shelters the room from external view, it allows wind to enter without bringing in sediment. When necessary, the space between the two wall panels can be closed with a wooden shutter.
Besides the Quranic school, a steep staircase climbs up to the minaret, which was built on top of the school. The top of the minaret is shaped as a “khodha,” a traditional Arabian helmet. The thick walls of the mosque, which help keep the mosque cool, were built by overlapping raw pieces of coral rock and limestone. The roof was finished with a layer of compressed mud, which further protects the mosque from the sun during the hot seasons.
Aware of the importance of this traditional building, Qatari authorities took steps to preserve it in 1985 and 2004.
1. Description of Simaisma mosque is taken from Heritage of Qatar website
2. All pictures are personal documentation unless otherwise stated