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Dhow Harbor


The Dhow Boats have plied the Persian Gulf for centuries in their hand-crafter their wooden boats.  The life of these boats was scripted across their bows and in their weather beaten sides. They were very hard working boats and drafted fisherman mostly from India and Pakistan.  I met an Omani Captain, Babba Ali, who oversaw a fleet of boats.He was considered the main arbiter should any issues  arise amongst the men and kept a  sharp eye on governing the Dhow Harbor.  He worked for an Emirate who owned many of the boats.


The dhows head out to sea for several days at a time .  When they returned to port, they unloaded their catch at 4 am.  In total darkness, they sort the fish into small piles in baskets, in rows, filling a parking lot.  Immediately, the auctioneers set to auctioning the fish in rapid fire to the hotels, palaces and restaurants, and the fish were loaded into trucks and taken away.  The balance went to the Fish Market and by 6AM the Fish Market was up and hustling, setting up their spaces on chilled ice and making their arrangements with the fish.


After the boats were unloaded, those fishermen knocked off for a few days, while others were busy loading their boats with ice and nets to set off during the day. At sunset, I wandered the harbor many times, catching the casual atmosphere of the place while the community of sailors gathered to cook their dinner, make calls to home and relax.


The backdrop of the Dhow Harbor was the glistening modern skyline of Abu Dhabi, separated by a canal, but also separated by a modern generation and an ancient one.