We arrived in the city of Sur in the Gulf of Oman. Once famous for dhow-building, Sur’s boatyards are still functioning and open to visitors (🎟️1 OMR). By the sixth century, Sur had become an essential center for trade with East Africa. Later, its reach expanded all across the Arabian Sea. Boats, naturally, were a vital part of life in Sur, and a thriving ship-building industry developed in the port city. Sur became famous as a center for constructing dhows, the generic name given to a range of traditional Arabian sailing vessels, typically fitted with one or two masts and lateen rigging. It is one of the most historic boat-building centers in the Gulf region, where artisans use centuries-old techniques to build traditional Arabian ships.

The factory produces only two or three large dhows at any given time. They are made from Burma teak and gaff, a local desert tree, and are built to order. And while modern methods are now used in construction, many traditional techniques remain. It’s not unusual to see a builder using a bow drill instead of an electric drill and workers moving planks by rolling them over logs. Blueprints and schematics are also rare, if used at all, as all the knowledge for building these vessels is contained within the heads of the local- shipbuilders.

Parking location – Sur: 22.561655N 59.536234E