Dionisius A. Agius is Al Qasimi Professor of Arabic Studies and Islamic Material Culture at the University of Exeter. He is the author of numerous books including Seafaring in the Arabian Gulf and Oman (2005), winner of The Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah Foundation and British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize, and Class Ships of Islam (2008). He is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Geographical Society.
This a work of such scholarship and erudition that it should become
a classic the second it is published. As a child sailing through
the Red Sea on the army troop ships travelling to and from the Far
East I have known and remembered these extraordinary and majestic
boats. They sailed alongside us as we dropped anchor at Aden,
circled us at Port Said and accompanied us through the Suez Canal.
As old as time, and as pertinent today as they were before Abraham
was born, these sturdy, graceful vessels did more than carry goods
and people: they represented freedom, trade, exploration and
endeavour, war and peace. Above all, they symbolize the interaction
between Islam and the rest of the world; the publication of this
book is timely indeed. A painting of dhows, reddened by the setting
sun, hangs above my desk as I write. I can hear the creak of their
timbers and the slap of the sails in my small study in London.
Romantic, trustworthy, the dhow occupies a place in my heart
reached by no other memory. * Joanna Lumley, OBE, FRGS *
Reading this book, one has the feel of the sea: Dionisius Agius takes the reader aboard, shows how sailors lived and ate, where they went and what dangers they faced in the heat and wind of the Red Sea, observing the end of an era as the age-old sailing dhow gives way to fibre-glass and engine-power. * David Abulafia, LittD FBA, Professor Emeritus of Mediterranean History in the University of Cambridge and author of The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean *
In this beautifully written study, Agius takes us on a journey through the rapidly vanishing world of traditional dhow and dhow voyaging. His exploration of this long-neglected subject relies on numerous informants and a wide-ranging array of important sources. This truly outstanding and definitive contribution to maritime history preserves priceless, vanishing traditional knowledge for future generations. A fascinating book to explore. * Brian Fagan, Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara and author of Beyond the Blue Horizon *