Traditional dhows are indeed a widely recognized symbol of Arabian culture. The word - 'dhow' conjures up a clear image of proud Arabian ancestry and heritage. A powerful link to the past, dhows were primary means of sea travel and trade for pearl divers, fishermen, and merchants. All seafaring adventurers, not meant for dry land.
Traditional ship builders still rely on dhows for transportation of goods and services as Karim, a fish merchant, explains, "The basic design of the Arabian wooden dhows is more sound than that of these fancy new boats. I just commissioned another wooden dhow today! The only change I made is I had them add a navigation system to the new one."
Classification of Dhows
Shu'ai is the most commonly used work-boat for fishing and trading on inshore waters. With lengths of ranging from five metres to an impressive fifteen metres or more, Shu'ai of all shapes and sizes can be seen in ports and harbours around the Emirates. It has a distinctive concave profile, high at the stern and low towards the bow with a jutting prow.
A less familiar shape for city dwellers is that of the Boum. Usually sailing in lower Gulf than in Northern waters its tapered stern it is symmetrical has an imposingly tall prow often used by divers as a diving board! They have a higher tonnage than Shu'ai (400 tons at times) and are longer too - often more than 35 metres.
A less curvy form of dhow is Jailbut which has a rectangular profile so it can carry a larger sail. Aptly designed for racing, these boats slice through the winds with graceful ease.
A true testament to the durability of these dhows is that you can still spot a few on display along the Corniche shores, while others have been converted to floating restaurants which entertain tourists and residents alike.
The dhow builders of the Gulf are also noted for their ability to work without design work sheets. They measure everything by eye and judge the precision of there readings by experience.
Guide section: Leisure
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