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Boat captain in Dubai Creek who witnessed transition into modernity

Boat captain in Dubai Creek who witnessed transition into modernity

The Dubai old timer has many interesting stories to tell.



by

Marie Nammour

Published: Thu 31 Oct 2019, 10:06 PM

Last updated: Fri 1 Nov 2019, 12:13 AM

Salem Obeid bin Suwaidan, an Emirati boat captain, witnessed how Al Shindagha and the creek areas transformed across the decades. He began his career as a guide in the Dubai Creek where he used to show the way for commercial and fishing boats in his small boat. Now, he is in charge of Dubai government yachts.
He learned the profession from his father. They used to travel to India, Pakistan, Iraq, Tanzania (previously Zanzibar), Gulf countries and elsewhere to bring goods for the ruler.
As his family used to live in that area, he witnessed all the changes of the architecture and especially, the transformation of his career into one that relies on modern sailing equipment. In the past, sailors used to rely on the compass but now there are high-tech radars and communication means via satellites. Ancient boats used to sail by the power of the wind and not by engines.
The Dubai old timer has many interesting stories to tell. He recalls how many storms and raging waters he had met with in his sails. There is one particular incident that he remembers with pride. On a trip back to Dubai, he was advised to divert because of an expected storm. He was in the midst of the sea and it was very hard for him to know his exact location. However, he changed his way using the map and other primitive means and together with his crew he reached Qatar safely.
"Nowadays, it has become very easy to determine your location and coordinates while in the middle of the sea thanks to radars and other devices," he points out.
Bin Suwaidan learned the profession from his father, who was also an expert in diving and who used to follow the stars in his sailing journeys.
Now, even if his journeys are no more long distance ones and he is no more crossing oceans as he used to do, he has long ago got familiar with the modern technology when setting sail.
He recounted with enthusiasm the many times he took VIPs, including Queen Elizabeth during her first Dubai visit in 1979, on a tour to the Dubai Creek and the dry docks. Bin Suwaidan keeps a memento, a gift photo of the British royals with an autograph.
Liverpool F. C. was also taken on a cruise by the veteran captain when they came to Dubai to inaugurate Al Nasr club.
mary@khaleejtimes.com


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