Dubai Sees Revival in Dhow Trade During First Half of 2021

Dubai is seeing a strong revival in wooden dhow trade this year with the recent establishment of the Marine Agency for Wooden Dhows, an agency set up by the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCFC) to streamline and regulate the activity of the traditional vessels in the emirate’s waters.

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

Established in July last year, the Marine Agency for Wooden Dhows 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.

His Excellency Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Chairman of the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, said the Marine Agency for Wooden Dhows, which is exclusively responsible for regulating the activity of wooden dhow ships in Dubai waters, 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.

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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.

Merchandise carried by the traditional vessels are a major source of supply for traditional souqs located along Dubai Creek as well as the emirate’s fruit and vegetable and livestock markets.

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

Launched officially in February 2020, NAU connects dhow owners with traders allowing them to search, negotiate and book shipments. The app uses the latest AI technologies to connect traders with the boat captains.

Dhow Captains (locally called ‘Naukhda’) have the facility to view business requests from traders that match their planned trade routes and available dhow space.

Accordingly, the app helps ‘Naukhdas’ to effectively plan their trips, optimise efficiency in dhow space utilisation and ultimately generate higher revenues. Traders, on the other hand, can search for availability of cargo dhows in Dubai, based on their requirements.

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