UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The Story of a Pearl Diver
Months at sea, hours on end in the water, damaged eardrums, the risk of drowning or a shark attack – the life of a pearl diver was tough.
It’s hard to believe that pearl diving was once the driving force of the United Arab Emirates – a country renowned for becoming wealthy from oil. The pearl industry boomed from the late 19th century through to the second decade of the 20th century, however it is believed to date back around 7,000 years. The pearl business began to wane with the creation of artificial pearls and the discovery of oil – a much more lucrative industry.
The shallow Arabian Gulf waters provided an ideal environment for pearling as the warm waters produced highly prized, colourful pearls with incredible lustre and luminosity. In addition, the oyster beds were shallow enough for divers to reach without modern scuba equipment.
All images: © Alex Wolfe / Culture Trip