Dubai’s Wooden Dhow Gulf Trade Grew 12% In 2022


The enigmatic and often ancient Wooden Dhows based from Dubai and carrying smaller cargo across the Middle East and as far as Indian an MENA ports increased by 12% in 2022. Not just scenic tourist attractions, these craft ply important Gulf and North African trade routes.

The UAE Marine Agency for Wooden Dhows stated on Tuesday (January 31) that it facilitated the entry of more than 10,500 wooden dhows during 2022. The dhows ferried 1.7 million metric tonnes of merchandise from countries across the MENA region and beyond.

The Marine Agency is working to enhance trade with neighbouring countries further and contribute to the objectives of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33. This agenda was launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in early January 2023, setting an ambitious target of doubling the size of Dubai’s economy over the next decade and consolidating its position among top three global cities.

Wooden Dhows have proven adaptable and remain up to the task. These ships used to take 40 days to load cargo but now take just 3-5 days. This efficiency has boosted the number of dhow movements from 9,000 in 2021 to over 10,500 in 2022, consolidating Dubai’s position on the global dhow trade map.

The Marine Agency for Wooden Dhows is exclusively responsible for regulating the activity of wooden dhows in Dubai waters. Dubai’s three wharfages – Dubai Creek, Deira Harbour and Al Hamriyah Port – play a key role in making the Emirate a regional hub for dhows.

Mahmood Amin Khoury, Executive Director of the Marine Agency said that the Agency aims to expedite wooden dhow operations to enable them to undertake multiple trips per month instead of one.

“The Agency managed to slash waiting times for departures from 8-10 hours to just 30 minutes for sailing outside the Emirate, boosting the number of trips,” he said. “Merchants now have easy access to handle goods on and off ships with all necessary facilities provided for smooth operations 72 hours before arrival. The Marine Agency reserves the dock and informs sailors to prepare for export/import. Although these are old wooden ships, practical design is still valid for use in Gulf waters and their communications systems are now digital.”

Related Reading


About Us

Middle East Briefing is produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. We provide foreign investment market intelligence about doing business in the region as well as provide updates on investments into Asia for Middle eastern based international companies from our offices in Dubai. Our firm was established in 1992 and has 28 offices and several hundred research, legal, tax and compliance professionals in our offices through the Asian region.

For assistance with establishing business in the Middle East, or for assistance in analyzing and entering markets elsewhere in Asia, please contact us at or visit us at

Related reading
Back to top