x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Dh30 million port in UAQ welcomed by Emirati fishermen

Work on the 300-berth port in Al Naqqa, Umm Al Quwain, started in Ramadan this year with funds allocated by the President, Sheikh Khalifa

The mostly deserted new fishing harbour located on the western edge of Umm Al Quwain. Bangladeshi fisherman load fishing boats in preparation for the next fishing trip. Antonie Robertson / The National
The mostly deserted new fishing harbour located on the western edge of Umm Al Quwain. Bangladeshi fisherman load fishing boats in preparation for the next fishing trip. Antonie Robertson / The National

SHARJAH // Emirati fishermen in Umm Al Quwain have welcomed the opening of a Dh30 million, 300-berth port to preserve the traditional industry in the Northern Emirates.

Work on the port in Al Naqqa started in Ramadan this year with funds allocated by the President, Sheikh Khalifa, said Saeed Al Shaali, executive director of the project at the Ministry of Public Works.

“The port has 300 berths with a capacity to increase to 400,” said Mr Al Shaali. “There are also 20 allocated to elderly fishermen who still want to practise the profession.”

Fishing is still the biggest industry in UAQ, with most Emiratis working at sea.

Ahmed bin Rabea, a fishermen who now works from the new port, said it had given their livelihoods a much-needed boost.

“Fishing is made easy and this is a good boost to our businesses and income,” Mr bin Rabea said.

Juma Al Shamsi, 70, is one of the oldest men who still regularly goes out to sea.

Mr Al Shamsi said he was grateful the authorities had thought about men his age who wanted to continue their lifelong love of fishing.

“All my life is the sea,” he said. “I have to go to the sea to live because if I drink its water all the diseases in my body go, and when I wash the seawater in my face it brightens me like that of a youth.”

But some younger fishermen said the lack of a refuelling station at the port presented them with difficulties.

“Some fishermen are still reluctant to come and use this port because there is no fuel station,” said Hamisi Obeid, an Emirati.

“Fishermen wanted a port that incorporated all the basics like a petrol station so that when they set off from the port they go directly to sea for work, not to find somewhere to refuel.”

But retired fisherman Sultan Hassan, 80, said the port was a source of pride to the emirate and all fishermen.

“I have been a fishermen for more than 50 years and something like this port could not have crossed my mind as a reality, even 30 years back,” Mr Hassan said.

“The young people need to learn to appreciate what they have got and then seek more with patience.”

The Ministry of Public Works is surveying the surrounding area and additions are still be built at the port.

Al Naqqa port replaces the old marina that had been in service for more than 35 years and was in danger of collapsing into the sea.

A second 75-berth port is also due to open on UAQ Creek next month. Built on the orders of Sheikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mua’lla, the emirate’s Ruler, it is close to the fish market.

Nearby land has been allocated for an ice factory to keep catches fresh.

ykakande@thenational.ae