Majid Obaid Al-Falasi is an Emirati man who has built the biggest dhow in the world. The dhow is named Obaid after his father, Obaid Jumaa bin Majid Al-Falasi. Now, the shipbuilder says he will set sail for Karachi in about 2 months. Why Karachi? It is because he wants to fulfill his father’s dream.
Obaid, who was also a shipbuilder, built the largest dhow called Al-Fateh in 1976 in the city of Karachi. His boat, at the time, weighed an astonishing 300 tons when other boats were only 180 tons in UAE.
In 1975 my father went to Karachi and built a boat there which was even then the biggest boat in Pakistan, and named it Al-Fateh.
It all started from Karachi after which my father started making dhows here in Dubai. He made over 2,500 dhows in his lifetime.
His father started the shipbuilding company called Obaid bin Jumaa bin Suloom, which is now being passed down from generation to generation. Majid built Obaid almost 4 decades after his father, and he is very proud of his achievement.
Since Obaid built his first dhow in Karachi, Majid says he wants to set sail for the city.
My father was a dhow builder and did it as a business. He wished in the 70s to build the world’s largest boat. And here in the UAE we have a desert, not a forest so he used to visit Pakistan and India where all such material is available.
When he came back to the UAE, the biggest boat at that time weighed 180 tons and our boat, that was made in Pakistan, weighed 300 tons.
When he brought it to Dubai, the traditional people made fun and questioned as to how it will work.
But building these boats is not easy. About 1,700 tons of wood and 800 tons of steel went into building Obaid. And it’s almost the size of an American football stadium, or the Big Ben in London.
We tried to get the longest pieces of log available. We are born as dhow builders, and can build dhows using other material, but wood keeps its identity.
This achievement is just the inevitable continuation for building dhows in the world.
His dhow has two 1,850-horsepower engines and can hold 6,000 tons of cargo. Obaid Jumaa bin Majid Al-Falasi passed away almost 11 years ago, but his legacy lives through his son and grandson.
I now see it in the eyes of my son. He is passionate about what I do, and what his grandfather used to do. This is what matters, for them to be able to continue the tradition and have it transferred to the next generation.