Abdullah Mohammed Sulaiman is a master builder of the shasha, the traditional fishing craft of the UAE’s east coast made from the date palm.
For years Abdullah and his friends built and rowed these boats to go fishing in Fujairah waters. Unfortunately the advent of fiberglass boats with outboard motors put an end to the shasha (shoosh pl.) for fishing purposes but a resurgence in traditional Emirati sport and culture has led to a revival of palm branch boat building.
Aided now by his sons and a small team, Abdullah prepares boats for rowing in the annual shoosh competitions organized by the Fujairah International Marine Club as a way of teaching Emiratis about their traditions.
Abdullah is also getting orders from businesses, museums and schools around the United Arab Emirates that want a shasha or some shoosh (plural) as part of a display of Emirati heritage.
There’s a simplicity about the shasha but master boat builders have learned many secrets over the years and much of the knack is in the preparation of the date palm materials. The boat is all made from local palms except for the frame and oars which are crafted from imported hard wood.
Here are the prices for the standard shasha:
2 metres in length (one rowing position with two oars) AED 2000.00
4 & 5 metres (one rowing position with two oars) AED 4000.00
4 & 5 metres (two rowing positions with two oars) AED 5000.00
7 metres (four rowing positions with four oars) AED 6-7,000.00
Prices for bigger shasha and bulk orders can be negotiated.
Take a Look
Some pictures of Abdullah Mohammed Sulaiman and the shasha building are posted in this photo album.
Michele Ziolkowski, The Shasha—Traditional Fishing Craft of the UAE’s East Coast, Tribulus, Vol. 10.1. Spring/Summer 2000.
Rowing Races are Keeping Alive Fujairah’s Traditional Fishing Boats the Shoosh, ETE, 10 November 2009.
Keeping Fujairah Heritage Afloat with Al Shoosh Boat Racing, FIF, 9 November 2009.
This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.
Image: Master shasha builder—Abdullah Mohammed Sulaiman.