Among all the different types of great sailing ships in the world, the dhow
holds the longest continuous tradition of commercial seafaring. For hundreds of
years before the much heralded clipper ships plied the Atlantic, Arabian
shipwrights and mariners practiced their professions. And after the tall-masted
clipers were gone, and most of the world's commercial sailing fleets had been
converted to engine power, the dhows continued their seasonal voyages, up until
the end of the 1950's, still powered only by the wind.
Kuwait's fleet of dhows was one of the most impressive of the Arabian Gulf. Up
until the development of the oil industry, Kuwait's economy depended mainly on
three maritime activities: trading voyages, shipbuilding, and pearl diving. An
interesting description of the small seaport of Kuwait was given by Captain S.
Hennell, British Resident in the Gulf in 1841, who referred to Kuwait as
"Grane," a name recorded as early as 1660 on a chart of the Dutch East India