Pearl Diving in the United Arab Emirates: A hidden gem to discover

Visiting Dubai? Think it is all about fast cars, tall buildings, luxurious hotels and kebabs? No No No, you have to know the real United Arab Emirates by experiencing local experiences rich in culture such as Pearl Diving. In the occasion of a day organized by Apple team gathering a sample of the top creatives in the UAE, we have been transported in Ras Al Khaimah to dive into the Pearl Industry which was once very special in the country. We’ve learned a whole lot and made memorable moments by putting to test our photography creativity with the latest iPhone 11 Pro.

The day was hosted by Obaid AlBudoor, a person with a passion for the outdoors and beauty the UAE has to give to its visitors, but also ex-pats living in the country. We learned how Pearl Diving was once the most lucrative profession in the country dating back around 7,000 years. It stopped its operations the old school way when the Japanese discovered how to make artificial pearls in the early 1900s, making the practice of pearl diving virtually redundant.

At the time, the Pearl Divers would be gone from 10 days to 4 months, being at sea from mid-May to early September. The first 10 days of a new pearling season were always the toughest for divers due to diverse reasons like seasickness, nausea, all common due to the body getting used to the diving routine. A regular day of diving is about 12-14 hours, starting before sunrise until sunset.

It wasn’t easy to be in the Pearl Business. Young boys of 9 years old were already inducted into the pearling business, prying to open oyster shells with knives to get to the pearl. From the age of 12 onwards, they began to dive. This career would last until 50 years of age for some.

All that information was so interesting to learn from the team of Al Suweidi Pearls. It is Major Ali al Suweidi, president of the Emirates Marine Environmental Group (non-profit working on protecting UAE’s marine life), a local descended from pearl divers, that is now motivated to keep the tradition alive and known to next generations and visitors coming to the UAE.

To experience this tour, do not hesitate to reach out to Al Suwaidi Pearls Team. Ras Al Khaimah can be quite a long distance and you will definitely need transportation arranged or a rental car but it is absolutely worth it!

Coming soon, read part II of our day meeting local tribes living in the United Arab Emirates, with whom we spent a few hours learning about their music, traditions and food.

The port where we embarked to our pearl adventure.
Meet the traditional Emirati Breakfast cooked with love by the mother of one of the people part of our group. You can’t have more authentic than this!
A little island we passed by with Camels strolling by the beach.
We sat down and observed several types of pearls.
Wide-angle lenses for a DSLR can be quite expensive. iPhone 11 Pro’s camera has an impressive wide-angle to capture all the action you want from a different perspective.
pearl diving in ras al khaimah
We assisted a demonstration of how divers would … dive!
Obaid in his element.
These were the gloves that the pearl divers would use to manipulate oysters.
The beautiful reflection and clouds…
Sharing with us how the pearl farming is done nowadays.
Goodbye!

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