Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Dhow wharf in Deira here to stay?

In the recently published article "Foreclosure on a Dream" the author makes reference to the closure of the dhow wharf in Deira in Dubai. This follows an article in The National on 6 March 09 quoting the head of Dubai Airport Free Zone Inspection Centre supporting the move of the dhows to Al Hamriya on security grounds. Four days after The National article appeared, the Khaleej Times printed an article which seems to refute it (but I say "seems" because nothing is ever certain, it could all change overnight, or at least within 4 days....)
The executive director of cargo operations at Dubai Customs unequivocally denied on Monday media reports that the dhow wharf in the Dubai Creek would close due to security concerns.
Mohammad Matar Al Marri said the reports, which said all Dubai Creek activities would move to the base of the Palm Deira seven kilometres away, were inaccurate.
"There are studies to see the feasibility of expanding the creek's operations (to Palm Deira) but that programme is not confirmed," he said.
One customs officer, who did not want to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said there has been informal discussion for years about moving the dhow trade but there has been no concrete action.
The Dubai Creek remains a centre of significant trade between East Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and the Gulf. The wooden dhows at the Dubai Creek port recall an era when business in the emirate relied heavily on pearl and gold traders.
Today, the often brightly-painted boats are both a tourist attraction and a centre of commerce. On Saturday, tourists wearing white sneakers and cameras strapped around their necks walked around the wharf, piled high with plastic-wrapped tyres, boxes of gum that sells for Dh1 a box and cartons of soap sat on the wooden dock before shipment.
Citing an official at the Dubai Airport Free Zone, the weekend reports said security concerns prompted the imminent closure.
Much of the port's trade is with Iran, an approximately 10-hour boat ride through the Arabian Gulf.
UAE officials have stopped several shipments containing banned substances bound for Iran in the recent years.
Much of the port's trade involves shipments with Iran and East Africa, two places of particular concern for both security and smuggling reasons. While five to seven per cent of all shipments at Dubai's land, sea and air ports are inspected, every vessel bound for the Creek Port is fully offloaded first and inspected in Shindagha.
Al Marri acknowledged the security concerns associated with having an international shipping centre in the heart of historic Dubai. In an earlier interview with Khaleej Times, he expressed concern that people engaged in regional conflict would use Dubai's rapid shipping times to transit materials. Those materials could pose a threat to Dubai.
"We are in the middle of a war zone. This area has been in political unrest for the last 50-60 years" he said. "Not everyone will use that proper infrastructure developed for positive issues," he said.
In July, Dubai Customs trained its employees in detecting weapons of mass destruction and nuclear, biological and radiological components of such weapons.

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