3rd January 2009, 16:24
Up to the 1960s, dhows made commercial journeys between the Persian Gulf and East Africa using sails as their only means of propulsion. Their cargo was mostly dates and fish to East Africa and mangrove timber to the lands in the Persian Gulf. They sailed south with the monsoon in winter or early spring and back again to Arabia in late spring or early summer. The term "dhow" is also applied to small, traditionally-constructed vessels used for trade in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf area and the Indian Ocean from Madagascar to the Gulf of Bengal. Such vessels typically weigh 300 to 500 tons, and have a long, thin hull design. Also, it is a family of early Arab ships that used the lateen sail, on which the Portuguese likely based their designs for the caravel known to Arabs as sambuk, booms, baggalas, ghanjas, and zaruqs.