Boat race

Traditional dhow boat race retraces Gulf pearl route

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 Zilzal, a dhow captained by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum, sails towards the finishing line off the coast of Dubai to win a traditional long-distance dhow sailing race on May 14, 2017 © (AFP)

The Zilzal, a dhow captained by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum, sails towards the finishing line off the coast of Dubai to win a traditional long-distance dhow sailing race on May 14, 2017 © (AFP)

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.

Dhows participate in the Al-Gaffal traditional long-distance dhow sailing race near the island of Sir Bu Nair on May 14, 2017

Dhows participate in the Al-Gaffal traditional long-distance dhow sailing race near the island of Sir Bu Nair on May 14, 2017 (© AFP)

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).

Dhows participate in the Al-Gaffal traditional long-distance dhow sailing race near the finish line off of Dubai on May 14, 2017

Dhows participate in the Al-Gaffal traditional long-distance dhow sailing race near the finish line off of Dubai on May 14, 2017 (© AFP)

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.