Dubai boatyard to build 'world's biggest dhow' | The Daily Star
01:32 PM, September 01, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:40 PM, September 01, 2015

Dubai boatyard to build 'world's biggest dhow'

A Dubai family boatyard hopes to revive the traditional dhow sailing ship by building the largest the world has ever seen.

The Al Falasi brothers plan to launch a dhow nearly 85 metres (280 ft) long and 12 metres (39 ft) wide in their native port of Jadaf, the Abu Dhabi newspaper The National reports.

It is rare to find a dhow longer than 38 metres - especially in the Gulf, where the boats are not traditionally ocean-going. Most dhows have now been relegated to museum pieces or turned into floating restaurants, overtaken by more modern designs.

"We're not just doing this for our family, but for our country Dubai. We shall submit it to the Guinness Book of Records and, God willing, enshrine our name and tradition there," says Ahmed Al Falasi, who owns the boatyard with his brother Majid.

They began work back in January with a 25-strong crew, who are making the entire boat by hand but for an electric woodcutter and a crane. The workmen first test scale models and can judge carpentry flaws by eye,  Al Falasi tells the paper.

Not everything will be completely traditional on the giant dhow, however, as the wood is now brought in from Africa rather than Pakistan and the East Indies, and it will be fitted with engines before the launch next April.

Al Falasi says the once-extensive network of dhow route has shrunk to one major run to Somalia, which carries cargo ranging from cars to fruit juice and returns with livestock and charcoal.

He fears that dhow builders in most Gulf states have shut down, although there may be some work going on in Oman. But he remains hopeful: "We make a dhow each year, and when we've finished this one, we'll start on another. If you want to continue this job, you've got to love it".


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