Ras Al Khaimah’s Pearls of Wisdom – Suwaidi pearl farm
As one drive towards Al Rams, a sleepy fishing hamlet on the northern tip of Ras Al Khaimah, a backdrop of dramatic mountains and spectacular scenery unfolds as the horizon slopes into water. And it is on a sliver alongside the sea and mountains that Al Rams nestles, a place popularly known for its fishing activities.
However, it is the ancient history of pearling that brought this tiny region to international fame – Al Rams where a cultured Arabian pearl farm is carefully preserving an age old rich legacy.
A fascinating trip to the yester-years when pearling was once the pillar of the country’s economy. Abdullah Al Suwaidi set up the region’s first cultured pearl farm in 2005 on the very waters that had produced the finest Arabian pearls coveted by royals, nobles and celebrities in distant lands.
As the grandson of one of the last remaining pearl divers of the UAE, through his pearl farm, Suwaidi is single-handedly working to revive a tradition and industry that disappeared from the Gulf region almost a century ago.
At the harbour, one can see men go about their daily routine of mending nets and cleaning after the morning catch is done. In this idyllic haven sails the traditional pearling boat to visit the pearl farm at the foot of Jebel Rams.
Nature, culture, treasures are the highlights of this trip, ‘Al Rams is blessed with the bounty of nature – grey mountains, turquoise waters, mangroves brimming with marine and bird life and a tranquil, serene environment.
This thriving ecosystem is responsible for one of the world’s finest pearls famed for their incredible lustre and luminosity. The quality of a pearl depends on the quality of the environment in which it grows. Fresh water that pours down from the mountains, reduces salinity and infuses with oxygen to make an ideal condition for reproduction and food supply for the healthy growth of pearl oysters.
Suwaidi Arabian Pearl Farm — a 4000 sq.m. farm where a large pearling facility is anchored next to the oyster breeding grounds to culture and collect ‘Tbasheer'(in Arabic) or simply early samples of good fortune which sustains the heritage of Arabian cultured pearls.
How is it done?
The process of culturing – a 5-stage process that begins with allowing juvenile pearl oysters to develop into mature ones, after which they are held in darkness for a month to prepare for seeding; by inserting a round bead made from mother-of-pearl shell, along with oyster tissue, allows a layer of nacre to grow around the bead, forming a pearl in the course of time.
Retrieving these fruits of the sea is no easy task as divers have to spend months at sea in peak summer subsisting only on one meal of rice, fish, dates and coffee each day while the captain leads them to pearl banks using the sun, stars, and the colour and depth of the sea as a guide. A dive lasts around 60 seconds and it takes 50 to 200 dives per day, foraging on the ocean floor to collect as many oysters as they can before their breath runs out. The only protective gear is a nose clip and finger guards.
Pearling is a traditional Emarati way of life which traces the Arab civilizations’ roots back to 7500 years in history.
The Suwaidi Pearl Farm Tour
The Suwaidi Pearl Farm Tour is specially designed to teach people about pearls and is open for everybody; offering the following options:
- 1. Visiting the Pearl Farm (introduction to nature, history, culture, innovation)
- 2. Oyster opening experience
- 3. Pearl diving
- 4. Kayaking
- 5. Touring the mangroves
- 6. Traditional lunch provided by Emarati women from the village.
Contact and Location
You can choose any or a combination of activities from above, for booking tours and more information contact Sara on 050-6815151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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