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Business as usual for sea traders in UAE despite tension between US, Iran

Abhishek Sengupta/Dubai
Filed on June 22, 2019 | Last updated on June 22, 2019 at 08.03 am

(Shihab/KT)

Traders, launch operators, cargo handlers and the crewmen told Khaleej Times that nothing has changed for them.

There may be a serious diplomatic storm brewing over the Arabian Gulf waters but it's business as usual on the creek-side wharf next to the bustling Baniyas Street in Deira Dubai from where scores of motorboats ferry tonnes of commodities every day to Iran and back every week.

Abbas Poorzanegar, 50, the captain of one such launch, as they call it, told Khaleej Times that business has been brisk and "nothing's changed" despite recent developments over the Gulf of Oman.

"Business is good and we have had no issues ferrying across the Gulf waters," Poorzanegar said on Thursday, the eve of his next trip with cargoes of rice bags to Iran's

Bandar Abbas, the port and capital city of Hormozgan Province on the southern coast of Iran, about a 12-hour boat-ride across the Strait of Hormuz from Deira.

The Strait of Hormuz that links the Arabian Gulf on the west with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea on the south east assumes great strategic and economic importance because of the oil tankers from various ports passing through it. The strait - 39km (21 nautical miles) wide at its narrowest - saw one-fifth of the world's oil supply pass through it, including about one-third of all seaborne trade and a third of all liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade in the mid-2010s.

However, traders, launch operators, cargo handlers and the crewmen told Khaleej Times that nothing has changed for them.

While money - dirhams and Iranian rials - drives the lucrative legal trade, it's the men loading the dhows who work the hardest, despite temperatures touching 50 degrees Celsius.

"The weather has already become brutal but nothing seems to be going to stop us - not this heat in Dubai or what you are claiming on the waters," said Naveed, who works as a cargo loader and is oblivious of the goings-on in the Gulf of Oman this week.

When Khaleej Times visited the creek on Thursday, there were no signs of an impending Dubai weekend nor a lull of any other kind as boxes lay stacked haphazardly in rows, crates dumped in huge piles and sacks, ready to be unloaded and then loaded on to the Iran-bound vessels.

From yellow spindle-like modern plastic fishing equipment to cashew nuts to giant LG dishwashers, from office furniture to Chinese condiments - the list of cargoes that leave the Deira wharf every day is long and exhaustive as is the swarm of beeping forklifts and their operators, mostly from Pakistan's Peshawar. "Yeh hamara daily ka kaam hai (this is our daily job)," said Noor Mohammed, shrugging his shoulders to suggest he had any idea if anything was amiss in his business.

Ali Reza, who works as the first captain of another ship that ferries cargoes to Bandar Shah via the Strait of Hormuz, said: "There's no dimming of work in sight, heat or tension in the gulf notwithstanding. We have no clue what's happening and there's no change in work load for us, as far as our business is concerned."

Inside the bridge - the platform from where Reza commands his vessel, he is perhaps secretly thankful of being oblivious of the world around him as the sounds of a rickety, timeworn air conditioning machine overrides the hubbub of the workers outside and all the noise from the not-so-distant troubled waters.

abhishek@khaleejtimes.com


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