Sport | Sailing

'We have a history of seafaring'

There could be no person more appropriate to run the Sir Bu Naair race than Dubai International Marine Club managing director Saeed Hareb.

  • By Daniel Bardsley, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 May 24, 2007
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit:
  • Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum with Saeed Hareb (right).

There could be no person more appropriate to run the Sir Bu Naair race than Dubai International Marine Club managing director Saeed Hareb.

Hareb's grandfather Juma Bin Abdullah Al Amleh was a guide for the pearl divers and would lead a fleet of as many as 70 dhows.

He was expert at finding the right place at which to stop the fleet and let the divers go down in search of pearls.

It is partly because of Hareb's strong family link to the sea — his other grandfather was authorised to judge disputes between seafarers — that he believes very strongly in the importance of keeping the Sir Bu Naair alive.


“It is very important for us to keep a link between the past and modern life. It is our responsibility to the younger generation. We have a history of seafaring,'' he said.

While in the early years after the Sir Bu Naair was revived competitors tended to be older seafarers, the situation now is very different.

Given that one of the reasons behind keeping the race is to ensure that the UAE's seafaring traditions are not forgotten by young Emiratis, Hareb is particularly pleased that youngsters now dominate.

“In the beginning when we started, 10 per cent were from the younger generation. Most of them were old people.

“Today it's the opposite. It's 80 per cent young people and 20 per cent old people. It means we are responding to the message of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum to maintain our traditions and it makes me very proud when I see the younger generation.

“The young people are more competitive and they try to learn from the designers of international racing yachts, like the America's Cup winners, and apply these ideas to the dhow,'' he said.


Sometimes three generations of one family are involved in crewing a single vessel, and even many youngsters who are not taking part with their fathers or grandfathers do nonetheless come from seafaring backgrounds.

“For them, if they don't take part, they are not doing well for their family,'' Hareb said.

The involvement of so many young people has meant that a new generation is familiar with many of the old sailing terminology that was at risk of being forgotten.

“Around 100 terms that were mostly unknown to this generation have come back into use,'' Hareb said.


Hareb's involvement goes far beyond a purely administrative role: he is responsible for starting the race.

“I have to decide which direction to start the race in. I have to study the wind and the currents,'' he said.

Gulf News
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