Arab Region Dhows Under Piracy Attacks

In the Middle East the Dhow owners are refusing to travel between the UAE and southern Somalia after gun-wielding pirates seized eight of their vessels in just four days. Usually it is the larger merchant ships that get the headlines, however the wooden dhows that set sail from Dubai Creek, Sharjah and Ajman on the journey to Somalia, trading almost everything from televisions, cars, food, livestock, are also being seized regularly. Inlike big ships they are not hijacked for ransom, and the pirates use the dhows as mother ships for their skiffs to launch attacks on larger vessels. There has been an unprecedented number of attacks on dhows during the past few weeks, according to Emirates-based dhow owners, who held an emergency meeting in Dubai on Monday to discuss hijackings. They have decided to cease trade until the situation improves and hope the embargo will put pressure on Somali businessmen, who they hope will be able to influence the pirates. They have decided not to load any vessels to Mogadishu or the southern ports until the release of these vessels and an arrangement is made over security. Ninety-seven Indian nationals are being held on seven dhows, which are registered in India, according to the Indian Shipping Authority. During the emergency meeting the eighth pirate attack on a UAE operated ship was announced. A large merchant vessel, MV Iceberg 1, with a crew of 24, had been taken over en route from Aden to Jebel Ali port. The 4,500-tonne ship is operated by Dubai-based Azal Shipping and Cargo and was carrying generators, transformers and empty fuel tanks. The crew was composed of Yemenis, Ghanaians, Sudanese, Pakistanis and Filipinos. Even if dhows wanted to sail, they would now face difficulties after the Indian Shipping Authority said yesterday that it had prohibited mechanised sailing vessels from trading south-west of the line between Salalah in southern Oman and Male, the capital of the Maldives, an area that includes Somalian and Yemeni waters.

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