Distant Dhows in Dubai

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Ah the summer! Sun, surf, sand and sailing…


Well, here in the west, Sailing isn’t such a big thing anymore and ships are rarely used for anything more than commercial purposes. Depressing hey? But in Dubai, the tradition of sailing is big and strives to not be forgotten. The Dhow is the most well-renowned of Middle Eastern ships by far and no more so in Dubai, the home of the Dhow. Each year a huge race is held that tests the metal (or in this case, wood) of Dhows country-wide and takes Emirati teams to high speeds on the open waters  for 51.3 nautical miles between Sir Bu Naair Island and Mina Seyahi, with a checkpoint at Moon Island.


These contests often see fierce competition and it’s no wonder, with the prize money this year at 5 Million AED (about $1.36 million or £809 thousand), and has attracted viewers from all over the Emirates. Although traditionally only Emirati nationals are allowed to compete, recently honorary teams have been allowed to compete with two teams, one German team and one French team, competing last year. Of course as you’d imagine, Dhows handle completely differently to western vessels and as such there was a bit of a learning curve to get through before they could really compete.



Dhows are built to very specific specifications and must adhere strongly to the rules and regulations set down by the race’s organizers, with the main mast, or Dhagal, only being up to 32ft high, the length of the vessel being at least 60ft long and having exactly two sails, no more and no less. Those sails are the lifeblood of the twelve crew members, as due to the banning of both motors and the usage of oars, the entirety of the crew places their hope in the wind being on their side.


The competition is designed to generate an influx in interest in the Emirati shipping manufacturing industry in order to bolster trade. Additionally, the country uses the competition to keep traditional Dhow-making traditions alive through the competition and organizes food, refreshments and traditional Arabic dancing for all of their spectators during the course of the event. Would you like to experience the vision of pure white sails sailing on the line between vivid sapphire waters and a vibrant azure sky? Check out SeekTeachers’ jobs in Dubai today!