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Oman Sail

Jewel of Muscat Nears Completion in Oman

A 9th-century wreck of a ship being rebuilt

mardi 6 octobre 2009Redaction SSS [Source RP]

The Sultanate of Oman, at the Eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, is going through a renaissance of it’s maritime heritage. Taking it one step closer to their goal is the Jewel of Muscat project which is nearing completion. The importance of the relationship between modern Oman and its famed ancient seafaring traditions is of paramount importance as this oil rich Sultanate looks to diversifying it’s global perception as it becomes a modern country.

The Jewel of Muscat project is a joint initiative between Oman and Singapore involving the reconstruction of a 9th-century sewn-plank ship on the beach of Qantab village, just outside Muscat, Oman’s capital city. Once the 30-foot (18m) long hand-built hull is launched into the Gulf of Oman, she will set sail on an epic voyage that will finish in Singapore, one of Oman’s oldest trading p artners.

Displaying the characteristics of vessels built in the western Indian Ocean at that time, the Jewel of Muscat’s reconstruction represents a major feat of maritime engineering. Even today, the 1,200-year-old method of sewing the hull planks together with handmade coconut-fibre rope makes the vessel extremely resilient, and during the whole process - from shaping the first planks to hoisting the palm-leaf sails that were woven in Zanzibar - not one nail nor screw was used.

Jewel of Muscat takes its blueprint from a 9th-century wreck of a ship that was carrying more than 60,000 pieces of Chinese ceramics, silver and gold artifacts, spices and other commodities, now known as the Tang Treasure, that was discovered in 1998 in Indonesian waters. Jewel of Muscat will set sail from Muscat in early 2010 and travel along the same trade routes across the Indian Ocean as those described by Arab geographers and navigators. She is expected to arrive in Singapore in July 201 0 after stopping in India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. Once in Singapore she will be officially handed over as a gift from the Government of Oman to the Singapore Government and housed in a museum along with the treasure from the original wreck.

The project began in Oman in Mid-June 2008 with the development of a model and the search for materials used on the original wreck, which were identified through scientific analysis. For the planking, Afzelia Africana was sourced from Ghana, for the beams teak from Burma was found and poona and teak from India were used for the mast and spars. The first plank was laid on 21st October 2008 and almost exactly one year later the Jewel of Muscat will slip into the sea where she will be rigged in readiness for her pre-voyage sea trials. Saleh Said Al Jabri, formerly second in command of Oman’s tall-ship, Shabab Oman, and currently an instructor with Oman Sail, has been selected as Captain of Jewel of Muscat for her voyage to Singapore. "This project is of utmost importance to Oman and bringing our maritime history to life. I am honoured to be selected as the Captain of Jewel of Muscat and nothing will make me prouder than steering her along the old trading routes from Muscat to Singapore via India and Malaysia, just as our forefathers did before us." Saleh brings a wealth of experience to his position through his experience of sailing on many of the world’s oceans and overseeing large crews in a wide range of conditions.

The story of the ship’s construction and voyage will be captured in two exclusive one-hour documentaries to be shown in 164 countries on the National Geographic Channel from early next year. The project website offers a wealth of information on the project including short videos, photos, a 3D model of the ship, a timeline and a unique education section. There is also an archive section documenting the skills and techniques of sewn ship construction.

- Press info Oman Sail /

Voir en ligne : Photos Gilles Martin-Raget /

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