Why the centuries-old tradition of wooden dhow trade is making a revival in Dubai

Dubai sees exports through wooden dhows touch 365,632 tonnes and imports reach 260,001 tonnes in the first half of 2021

Dubai is seeing a strong revival in the traditional wooden dhow trade following the recent establishment of a new authority which aims to regulate the industry.

The Marine Agency for Wooden Dhows, an agency set up by the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCFC), works to streamline and regulate the activity of the traditional vessels in the emirate’s waters.

Established in July last year, the agency facilitated the entry of more than 5,383 wooden ships into the ports of the emirate in the first half of 2021 carrying merchandise from countries across the MENA region and beyond.

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, said the agency has simplified and expedited various procedures related to the docking, departure, and clearance of merchandise of the vessels in Dubai.

It also coordinates with government agencies to manage all aspects of maritime safety of wooden ships and safeguard the rights and interests of seafarers working on them.

The agency also provides several commercial options for the vessels such as facilitating long-term contracts for their services, in addition to protecting their merchandise from damage during loading and unloading operations at Dubai ports.

A major historical commercial destination, the Dubai Creek has been the centre of the dhow trade in the Gulf and beyond for several centuries.

Traditional dhows, now powered by modern engines, continue to ply routes between ports across the MENA region trading goods ranging from foodstuff to furniture.

The dhow trade plying through Dubai has also seen a digital transformation with DP World’s introduction of the NAU digital marketplace.

Launched in February 2020, NAU connects dhow owners with traders allowing them to search, negotiate and book shipments.

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