A snippet from Dugongs: Fascinating Marine Animals at Risk showcasing a dugong underwater All stories

Celebrating the 'Sea Cows' of Qatar

1 June 2021

The ancestors of today’s dugongs are believed to have been native to the waters surrounding Qatar for millions of years. NMoQ’s exhibition Seagrass Tails, Dugong Trails provides a closer look at these fascinating creatures.

The seas and waterways around Qatar are beaming with life. Marine habitats include coral reefs, salt marshes, mangroves and over 150 species of fish. Dolphins, sharks and rays have also been regularly sighted. However, there is something bigger than all of those that also makes the waters around Qatar its home – the magnificent and mysterious dugong.

The dugong has lived in Qatari waters for over 7,500 years. The Arabian Gulf hosts the second largest population of dugongs in the world, and while they are often found in pairs of two – a mother and a calf – Qatar hosts a strange phenomenon. In the northwest region, herds of 600-700 Dugongs have regularly been found swimming together, while in 2020 a record-breaking herd of 850 was sighted.

Seagrass Tales, Dugong Trails at NMoQ

From 10 June until 1 September the National Museum of Qatar, in collaboration with ExxonMobil Research Qatar, is proud to bring Seagrass Tales, Dugong Trails to Doha.

The exhibition introduces dugongs and their habitat through fun facts and interactive exhibits. You can also learn about the vital work of scientists studying dugongs in Qatar and how we can all they can protect dugongs them and their environment.

There is so much to learn about these gentle, mysterious creatures – it promises to be a fascinating day out for adults and children of all ages. Entry to the museum is free for all residents and citizens of Qatar but tickets must be purchased online in advance of your visit. You can book your tickets here.

And if you're lucky, you might even get to see Murjana.

Who is Murjana? Introducing our new mascot

Murjana is the newest member of the Qatar Museums family and the official mascot of the museum. Earlier this year – to celebrate both the launch of the exhibition and NMoQ's first birthday – we launched a very special competition, asking people to send in their designs for a potential mascot.

The response was overwhelming, with dozens of incredible designs sent in – making the job of selecting a winner almost impossible. We are delighted to introduce you to the newest member of our family – Murjana the dugong!

The winning design was created by Choy Salonga, a resident of Qatar originally from the Philippines. And here it is.

A dugong in glasses picking up trash with its clutch connected to a recycling backpack

The winning entry – Murjana, by Choy Salonga

Choy's design was selected based on its creativity and unique concept.

After much deliberation, the judges chose Murjana. They felt that it both advocated the importance of an eco-friendly lifestyle and incorporated aesthetics relevant to NMoQ, such as adding the colour rose motif to represent the desert rose.

The number of overall entries was vast and varied, and competition organisers were hugely impressed with the array of entries they received.

As part of the museum's identity, Murjana will now be featured on NMoQ's website, educational programmes, publications and social media. The design will also be used in promotional activities outside the museum space.

Check out the slideshow below to see some of the other wonderful entries we received, and find out more about Seagrass Tales, Dugong Trails.

And to visit the exhibition, you can book your tickets today.

An illustration of multiple dugongs in different positions and outfits submitted by Sumaya Al Shebani

By Sumaya Alshebani

A dugong surrounded by aquatic plants, eating seaweed illustrated by Moataz Omar

By Moataz Omar

A dugong in traditional Qatari clothes illustrated by Paula Casil

By Paula Casil

An illustration of two dugongs with one waving at the other holding a creel submitted by Wadha Al Thani

By Wadha Althani

A dugong eating seaweed illustrated by Karola Szabo

By Karola Szabo

An illustration of a dugong family underwater by Gabriele Bickl

By Gabriele Bickl

An illustration of a dugong by Noor Al Thani

By Noor Al Thani

An illustration of a dugong under the sea by Nina Lomri

By Nina Lomri

An illustration of a dugong pearl diving with a creel around its neck

By Johanna Oras

Oi Yi Wan's illustration of a dugong in Thobe

By Oi Yin Wan

Underwater illustration of a dugong holding a traditional tea dallah created by Rania Chamsine

By Rania Chamsine

Rashed Al Kuwairi's animated illustration of a dugong in Thobe smiling and waving

By Rashed Al-Kuwari

Reem Khan's illustration of a dugong under water with the Doha skyline in view made from paper

By Reem Khan

Three differently illustrated dugongs, one with a Qatari flag, another under the water and the last one at the museum

By Robin Howell

Outline of a dugong under water with other aquatic life illustrated against negative space by Rola Dlaykan

By Rola Dlaykan

Illustration of a dugong family cleaning litter out of seaweed

By Shaikha Al-Muftah

Illustration of two dugongs, one in a Thobe carrying a tea dallah and the other in a swimming suit

By Tiffany Postle

Animated dugongs flying across the city's road by Andrii Chernovil

By Andrii Chernovil

Illustration of a dugong wearing human clothes and green hair by Anitha Chandrasekar

By Anitha Chandrasekar

An illustration of a dugong eating seaweed under the sea by Ashwathy Satheesan

By Ashwathy Satheesan

A dugong wearing a thobe illustrated by Asma Al Mannai

By Asma Almannai

An illustration of a pink dugong wavy his hand saying “Marhaba! I'm Mustah”

By Barbara Charrue

An illustration of two dugong icons by Fadi Al Awayid

By Fadi Awayid

Clay artwork of a dugong standing behind a recycling icon by Fatima Atiri

By Fatima Ali Saad Atiri

An illustration of a dugong waving saying ”Al-Salam Alaykum,” behind him is the Doha skyline

By Hayyan Monawar

An illustration of a dugong wearing a sailor's outfit hugging a boy wearing thobe with the Qatari flag in the shape of a heart on the background

By Hesan Alsaleh

An illustration showing a dugong's front, back and side profile by Juan Miguel Ramirez

By Juan Miguel Ramirez

An illustration of a dugong holding the Qatari flag with the word ”Duggy” written at the bottom

By Lara Nakhle

An illustration of three dugongs, one is wearing a sea grass skirt, another a khatra and the last one is wearing a hat and holding a football

By Mahesh Kumar

An illustration of a dugong wearing a National Museum of Qatar T-shirt with the word ”staff” at the back of the T-shirt

By Maricarmen Zuriga

An illustration of a dugong's front, back and side profiles by Martina Corsano

By Martina Corsano

An illustration of a dugong by Maryam Al Malki showing his front, back and side profiles

By Maryam Almalki

An illustration of several dugongs wearing different expressions and showing their front, back and side profiles by Maryam Arqam

By Maryam Arqam

An illustration of several dugongs, one is sleeping on a rock, another is swimming, and another is pouring gahwa, the last one is studying the globe

By Maryia Viarshla

An illustration of a dugong drinking juice by the sea bed wearing pink sunglasses by Mohammad Attaran

By Mohammad Hossein Attaran

A dugong wearing a red and blue striped shirt and a yellow hat holding seaweed by Mouaz Ghannam

By Mouaz Ghannam

An illustration of two dugongs, one is wearing a thobe and the other a hijab with a description about dugongs in Arabic by Noora AlSubaiei

By Noora Al-Subaiei

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