Traditional dhow boat race retraces Gulf pearl route

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More than 120 traditional dhows retraced a centuries-old pearl diving route off the coast of the United Arab Emirates on Sunday for an annual boat race.

The “Al-Gaffal” race, Arabic for “The Return”, traces the path pearl-divers would take on their return home from a day at sea.

The wooden dhows with billowing white sails made the 51.3 nautical mile (95-kilometre) journey from the island of Sir Bu Nayer to the Dubai coast.

The winner, the dhow “Zilzal,” or “Earthquake,” was awarded 10 million dirhams ($2.72 million).

The tradition of dhows dates back to pearl diving in the Gulf, a major industry for coastal communities until the mid-20th century, when manufactured pearls made their way into international markets.

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