The Al-Baz dhow is on display in Sharq. — KUNA

KUWAIT: Al-Baz is a Kuwaiti sailboat that was known for ferrying water between the Kuwait coast and Shatt Al-Arab to meet Kuwaiti residents’ need of drinking and cooking water. The sea played a major role in the lives of Kuwaitis in the past prior to the discovery of oil, and the country – up until the 40s of the last century – imported freshwater daily through sailboats (dhows) with wooden water tanks.

A book issued by the Kuwait Research and Studies Center said with the increase in population and the need for freshwater, the government and merchants established a shareholding company in 1940 called the Kuwait Water Company to provide freshwater to residents.

The book said the company asked a well-known shipbuilder at the time – the late Ahmad bin Salman Al-Ustath – to build 20 dhows. It added the Al-Baz dhow was one of these 20 boats Ahmad bin Salman built, and many Kuwaiti skippers captained it until the boats were abandoned at the end of the 1940s after oil was discovered in Kuwait desert. The book mentions that Iranian skipper Ahmad Hussein bought the Al-Baz dhow from the Kuwait Water Company and altered it to become a cargo boat plying between Dubai and Kankoon port in Iran.

Hussein later decided to resell the boat to Kuwaitis “because they have the right to it more than others”, so it returned to its homeland after a 65-year absence by tugging it. It remained four months in Kuwait’s Doha port before the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters brought it to the coast. In January 2007, Al-Baz was hauled to its final place near other heritage boats displayed behind Al-Sharqiya school across Souq Sharq including the Al-Harby dhow, Al-Qattaa dhow and the Ghazal launch. – KUNA