August 9 - A pearl farm in the UAE is trying to revive the industry, in the hope of making the emirate a top pearl producer once more. Edward Baran reports.
Before oil, pearl diving was once the bread and butter of the UAE economy. Local fishermen throughout the Gulf used to dive deep into these warm waters, hunting for the precious pearls which provided a main source of income for many people. But the local industry vanished after World War One when new Japanese technology was developed to produce cultured pearls. Now, using those same methods, the tradition is being revived at this oyster farm in Ras Al Khaimah. Abdulla al-Suwadi is Chairman of RAK Pearls. SOUNDBITE, Abdulla al-Suwadi, Chairman of RAK Pearls, saying: "The idea of the project came from the historical value of pearl production in the Gulf which many historians have said goes back as far as 6000 years." The company, the region's only cultured pearl producer, now has some 40,000 oysters bedded down in the Gulf's briny waters. The firm has adopted the Japanese pearl farming technology of inserting tiny beads made from mother of pearl into oysters along with a small piece of the mantle organ from a donor oyster. The company's pearl-seeding expert Lutfi Hasayed treats the oysters with the care of a surgeon and the sharp eye of an artist. SOUNDBITE, Lufti Hasayed, pearls seeder, saying: "After the operation or after the implant and seeding that we do here we have an approximate 80 percent success rate." And that's perhaps just as well.... In future the owners of the oyster farm hope it will become part of the tourist trail as well as contributing to the local food industry.