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This 61-yr-old’s special box holds pearl diving memories

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When we were diving into the deep sea, it was more challenging and enjoyable, says Jasim Abdullah.

When Jasim Abdullah opens his pearl box, it takes visitors to an exciting time in his life that offers unending stories.

The 61-year-old Emirati, who had worked as a pearl diver, is nostalgic about his adventurous deep-sea pearl-diving trips.

“When we were diving into the deep sea, it was more challenging and enjoyable. Diving in shallow waters did not offer me that much thrill,” recalls Abdullah.

Video: 70-yr-old Emirati has been a fisherman for 62 years; has no plans to stop

He knows that the thrilling time will never come back but is keen that the present and future generations should know the legacy of pearl diving that once was a major profession.

“That’s why I keep this pearl box like a treasure. I will hand this over to my children and I sincerely wish that they pass it on to the generations to come,” he said at his stall displaying traditional tools used in pearl diving and trade at Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival in Abu Dhabi.

Abdullah is also inspired by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of the UAE, who always called on Emiratis to preserve their culture.

“He used to tell us that ‘we should remember our past – where and what we started with.’ The present Rulers are also keen to preserve this cultural legacy of the Emirates. They are doing all efforts to teach our culture to young children and people from other countries through these souvenirs,” explains Abdullah, who lives in Al Rahba in Abu Dhabi.

He started as a fisherman at the age of 15 and later switched over to diving. “My father was my teacher and guide in fishing and diving.”

As a pearl diver, sometimes there was no catch at all for a week. “But one day, you may get a valuable pearl. That’s enough for a few days. It was an interesting time in my life.”

His children – four men and five women – are also happy that he keeps his old pearl box.

“I sincerely hope they will continue to share this story of the past. It is our culture,” says Abdulla, while interacting with hundreds of visitors at the festival.

The festival began on October 20, 2020, and will continue to receive visitors until February 20, 2021.

Named in honour of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Festival celebrates the country’s cultural heritage and showcases the rich diversity of its traditions.

The 90-day event welcomes more than a million visitors of various nationalities every year.

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