Pearling in The UAE
IntroductionBefore the oil discovery era in the Federation of UAE, pearl industry was a booming business that the natives of these cities engaged in. The pearling company generated a lot of wealth in the 17th and late 19th century as many individuals took it as a full-time employment and specialized in it. The pearl industry went into decline in the 20th century due to the Japanese cultured pearls and discovery of oil. Apart from pearling, some individuals returned home between seasons to continue with other occupations in farming and camel herding. As an occupation, pearling was enshrined with traditions, and therefore new divers would not engage in the activity till they acquired permission from the rulers and merchants. This essay analyses the implications of the pearl industry in the UAE in the period.
Changes Brought By Pearling In UAE (17th To 19th Century)Pearling became a new source of employment both part time and full time. There were those who engaged in it as full-time professionals while others alternated with other activities between seasons the divers travelled all the way to Sri Lanka to fish pearls when the fishing season in the Gulf was over. The Emirate population before the discovery of gems used to live in sandy deserts and in mountains where they engaged in small occupations which were of significance. These activities included fishing in the inland oases, subsistence agriculture, animal husbandry, rural handicrafts and weaving of bishts from camel hair. The camel was important in the emirate culture since it withstood the desert temperatures. It provided proteins for the family such as milk and meat, transportation of goods to the market and it was involved in the traditional races. The palm was also a drought resistant crop which was cultivated by the natives. Its branches were used to build houses and provided dates for the family. These were the important social- economic activities that the Emirate population engaged in until the discovery of pearls which was held with high value and thereby given prominence by most people. Many people abandoned these activities and began to work in the pearl industry. Pearling led to increased population in the coastal regions such as Dubai and Abudhabi. Most migrants preferred to settle since there was the availability of resources compared to their inland homes. They adopted a settled lifestyle which was not the case earlier due to the harsh geographical conditions which were not appropriate for them to settle down. People from the mountains and sandy deserts were nomads who moved from time to time to look for resources. They, therefore, used to cover a broad span region to maximize the resources. Before pearling, there were few settlements along the coastal towns but with the booming business the natives from mountains, oases and sandy deserts with their families to the coastal region. Population growth was witnessed, and this made the pearl industry to be the mainstay of the UAE economy.
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