UAE jumps back into pearl diving

UAE jumps back into pearl diving

"Heritage is our foundation," said Ali Saqr al-Suweidi, pulling a red handkerchief out of his pocket to reveal a small handful of milky pearls, "and our heritage is the sea."

The descendant of Emirati pearl divers, 58-year-old al-Suweidi - or Major Ali, as he prefers to be called - has been sailing in the Gulf since he was eight, and searching its waters for riches since he was a teenager.

Today, he is president of the Emirates Marine Environmental Group (EMEG), a non-profit organisation devoted to the study and protection of the UAE's aquatic treasures. The group regularly organises pearl diving expeditions for locals and foreigners alike, determined to keep this now-neglected tradition alive.

"There is this story my grandfather used to tell me about a diver who brought a sheikh onboard to pray for pearls. For three months they prayed and no pearls came. The diver eventually dismissed the sheikh and, soon after, he found a huge pearl," al-Suweidi told Al Jazeera, recounting one of the many tales set amid the UAE's historic pearl trade.

"He gave it to the captain who recited a prayer and cast it out to sea, saying it was cursed because the diver discovered it after abandoning the sheikh. Later, the cook found it in the belly of a fish he was preparing for dinner."

Read entire article here.

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Pearl News.