Revisiting Gulf pearl industry

Revisiting Gulf pearl industry
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Revisiting Gulf pearl industry
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Revisiting Gulf pearl industry
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Updated 22 May 2013

Revisiting Gulf pearl industry

Revisiting Gulf pearl industry

Impressive! Remarkable! “Sea of Pearls” is indeed a masterpiece! This long awaited book examines for the first time, the social and historical context of the pearl industry in the Gulf from its origins to its demise. Lavishly illustrated, and thoroughly researched, “Sea of Pearls” is indeed the definitive book on the history of the pearling industry in the Gulf.
The discovery of a 7,000-year-old pearl at a Neolithic site in Kuwait triggered the author’s passionate interest in the pearling industry from its ancient beginnings to the 20th century.
“What I found was one of the most extraordinary stories of specialization and joint endeavor in the history of any region of the world, spanning more than seven millennia… Pearling dominated the thoughts and way of life of nearly all the coastal inhabitants of the Gulf for centuries, and over the last three hundred years, it completely reshaped the social, political and historical configuration of the Gulf…” Robert Carter says.
Seven thousand years ago, during the Neolithic, pearls were already sought after for their beauty. The pearling industry, however, became known at the end of the 4th century BC and by the 1st century AD, it was already well established. Pearls had become luxury goods and were worn by both men and women.
The Gulf had earned, through the preceding centuries, the reputation of providing the most beautiful pearls and with the arrival of the Portuguese in the region, pearls became a truly global commodity.
Around 1665, two to three thousand pearling boats were based in Bahrain alone. The Gulf was the unrivaled supplier of pearls providing from 65 percent to 80 percent of the world’s pearls.
A brief look at 16th and 17th paintings of European rulers and elites shows how much pearls were highly valued. India was also a great market for pearls. Portraits of Indian rulers highlight the breathtaking pearl jewelry worn by the maharajahs.
This is especially true of the Maharajah Bhupinder Singh of Patiala. His magnificent seven-string necklace of large lustrous pearls photographed in 1911 would have cost over a million dollars at the time.
Until the advent of Japanese cultured pearls, nearly all the pearls worn by men and women in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and America came from the Gulf. Buyers were prepared to pay a lot like the American industrialist, Horace E. Dodge who purchased a five-strand necklace of 389 pearls in 1920 for his wife. He paid $ 825,000, the equivalent of $ 60 to $ 80 million today. These unique pearls once belonged to the Empress Catherine the Great of Russia.
Another famous pearl is La Peregrina, (The Wanderer). It was owned by Phillip II of Spain who gave it to Queen Mary of England. After the queen’s death, the pearl was returned to Spain then taken to France where it was sold by Napoleon to the 2nd Marquess of Abercorn. La Peregrina was subsequently bought by the film star, Richard Burton for his wife, Elizabeth Taylor. This large pearl with a setting by Cartier of rubies and diamonds was sold in 2011, for 7.6 million pounds at Christie’s, New York.
The collapse of the pearling industry took place gradually. It began at the end of the 19th century when Kokichi Mikimoto was perfecting the art of culturing pearls in Japan. The industry also suffered subsequently, two major setbacks: First, the shutting down of the global markets during the First World War, and the second, was the temporary closure of the Indian market following Indian independence.
By 1939, pearling had almost completely disappeared in the ports of Saudi Arabia and by the 1960s, this traditional industry finally died in the rest of the Gulf.
Although pearls conjure images of luxury and exoticism, those who had observed the industry closely, denounced its cruel hardships. Alan Villiers, in particular, criticized virulently the pearl diver’s working conditions in “Sons of Sindbad” (Arabian Publishing).
The pearling industry, he said: “was accompanied by hardships almost intolerable by risk to health and life and limb, and its rewards were scanty, often distributed most unfairly, and sometimes withheld from their rightful owners altogether… If there must be pearls, let them be dredged… I had seen quite enough of pearling and found nothing to admire in that romantic industry, except the courage and fortitude of the crew.”
Throughout the centuries, divers were sustained by the hope of finding a great pearl. Although this happened rarely, it did actually happen to a Kuwaiti indebted diver, Ali Al Dubs. With profits he made from the sale of this large pearl (4.2-4.6 g), the lucky diver paid off his debts, built a house, bought a car and became a diving instructor!
As a final but ironic twist of fate, Robert Carter tells us “the Mikomoto family has recently been approaching pearl merchants in Bahrain, seeking new stocks of natural pearls. It is rumoured that competition from Chinese and South East Asian cultured pearls businesses hassled them to consider promoting the natural pearl again.”
To read this book is a true self-indulging pleasure. It is a real pearl!

Email: [email protected]


Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework

Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework
Updated 24 February 2021

Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework

Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework
  • The award of compensation for housework sparked debate on Chinese social media

BEIJING: A Chinese court has ordered a man to pay his former wife 50,000 yuan ($7,700) as compensation for housework she did during their five-year marriage, state media reported on Wednesday.
Under a landmark civil code that seeks to better protect the rights of individuals, spouses can seek compensation from their partners in a divorce if they have shouldered more responsibilities — including housework.
The woman, who did not work outside the home during the marriage, sought compensation for housework she had done after her husband filed for divorce at a district court in Beijing last year.
The judge ruled in her favor, telling the man to pay 50,000 yuan for her labor, according to state television.
He must also pay 2,000 yuan a month to support their child, with other assets such as property to be divided equally.
The award of compensation for housework sparked debate on Chinese social media, with many netizens saying the amount was too little.
“A nanny’s annual income is already in the tens of thousands of yuan,” said a social media user. “This is too little.”


Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects

Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects
A reduction of carbohydrate intake and increase in fats place the body in a metabolic state called ketosis. (Supplied)
Updated 20 February 2021

Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects

Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects
  • “The keto diet can also affect your performance during certain exercises, and you won’t be able to work out as intensely or as often as before”

JEDDAH: The ketogenic diet has become one of the fastest-growing dietary trends, but experts have warned that many of its advocates are unaware of the dangerous side effects the diet can cause.

According to Healthline.com, the ketogenic diet, commonly known as keto, is a low-carb, high-fat diet that shares similarities with low carb and Atkins diets. A reduction of carbohydrate intake and increase in fats place the body in a metabolic state called ketosis.
However, the diet has led to severe side effects for some people.
“The keto diet should only be done under clinical supervision, and only for brief periods of time,” Dr. Ruwaida Idrees, a nutritionist, CEO and owner of Hayati Ghethaei, a catering company, told Arab News.
She added that the keto diet should only be considered in “extreme cases,” because it can do “more harm than good.”
Idrees said: “It can cause damage to the heart, since the heart is also a muscle.”
Consulting a doctor, completing necessary tests and discussing goals with a clinical dietitian should all be considered before starting a keto diet, she added.
Idrees said there are many misconceptions surrounding the keto diet and exercise, adding that exercise can still reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity and other health conditions.
People need to be careful about the types of exercises they practice, she said. “The keto diet can also affect your performance during certain exercises, and you won’t be able to work out as intensely or as often as before.”
Fouz Ghannamil, a fitness trainer, told Arab News that the diet appeared to work for many people. “It is good, but my own opinion is that the human body needs more nutrition than just fat and a really small dose of carbohydrates.”
She added: “It has a high portion of proteins which is good, but the fat sources, no matter how good they are, are a bit too much. It is better in my opinion that the portion of fat and carbs is balanced.”
Ghannamil suggested a better alternative for people looking to shed pounds this year — sticking to a diet of “80 percent healthy food and 20 percent junk food.
“Because naturally, your mind will desire junk food that is not natural, however, it has loads of fat in and your body can use it as an energy source.”
She warned people considering a new diet to stick to a balanced nutrition pyramid that contains everything they need: Protein, carbohydrates and fat.
She added that people should avoid diets based solely on numbers rather than personal experience.
Idrees, on the other hand, proposed the Mediterranean diet as a simpler alternative to the keto diet, saying that it has a good balance of seafood and other sources of proteins, moderate portions of dairy and a limited intake of red meat.


TWITTER POLL: Huge majority disagree with US decision to remove Houthis from terror list

TWITTER POLL: Huge majority disagree with US decision to remove Houthis from terror list
Updated 15 February 2021

TWITTER POLL: Huge majority disagree with US decision to remove Houthis from terror list

TWITTER POLL: Huge majority disagree with US decision to remove Houthis from terror list

DUBAI: A large majority of respondents to an Arab News Twitter poll said they disagreed with the US decision to remove Houthi militia from a terrorism list — reversing one of Donald Trump’s final decisions before leaving office.
A staggering 74 percent of 1,113 voters said they opposed the decision, while just over 17 percent agreed. And only 8.9 percent said they were undecided.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Houthis will be removed from the US list of foreign terrorist organizations on Feb. 16.


Blinken said the decision to remove the group’s FTO designation as well as its Specially Designated Global Terrorist Designation was driven by concerns, calling it “a recognition of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen.”
The announcement came after the Houthis mounted a number of attacks on civilian targets in Saudi Arabia, which were condemned by the State Department earlier this week.
The top US diplomat noted in his statement that Houthi leaders Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, Abd Al-Khaliq Badr Al-Din Al-Houthi, and Abdullah Yahya Al-Hakim remain under sanction.


“The United States remains clear-eyed about Ansarallah’s malign actions, and aggression, including taking control of large areas of Yemen by force, attacking US partners in the Gulf, kidnapping and torturing citizens of the United States and many of our allies, diverting humanitarian aid, brutally repressing Yemenis in areas they control, and the deadly attack on Dec. 30, 2020 in Aden against the cabinet of the legitimate government of Yemen,” he said, using another name for the Houthis.
The Biden administration's special envoy for Yemen, Timothy Lenderking, was in Riyadh this week for meetings with Saudi and Yemeni officials as well as UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.
“The United States will redouble its efforts, alongside the United Nations and others, to end the war itself. We reaffirm our strong belief that there is no military solution to this conflict,” Blinken said Friday.


French nun, Europe’s oldest person, turns 117 after surviving COVID-19

French nun, Europe’s oldest person, turns 117 after surviving COVID-19
Updated 11 February 2021

French nun, Europe’s oldest person, turns 117 after surviving COVID-19

French nun, Europe’s oldest person, turns 117 after surviving COVID-19
  • Sister Andre is not going to do anything special for her 117th birthday
  • She converted to Catholicism and was baptized at the age of 26

TOULON, France: Europe’s oldest person, French nun Sister Andre, turns 117 on Thursday after surviving COVID-19 last month and living through two world wars, with a special birthday feast including her favorite dessert — Baked Alaska.
Born Lucile Randon on February 11, 1904, Sister Andre said she didn’t realize she had caught the coronavirus, which infected 81 residents of her retirement home in the southeast city of Toulon, killing 10 of them.
“I’m told that I got it,” the nun said ahead of her birthday. “I was very tired, it’s true, but I didn’t realize it.”
But David Tavella, spokesman for the Sainte-Catherine-Laboure nursing home, said she had “experienced a triple confinement: in her wheelchair, in her room and without a visit.”
“So, her birthday, it reinvigorates us,” he added, following the deadly outbreak.
Sister Andre said she was not going to do anything special for her 117th birthday but the home is planning a celebration for her.
There will be a special mass at the home, which has a dozen nuns, and the chef is preparing a birthday feast of foie gras, capon fillet with porcini mushrooms and Sister Andre’s favorite dessert: baked Alaska, washed down with a glass of port.
She says her favorite food is lobster and she enjoys a glass of wine.
“I drink a small glass of wine every day,” she said.
Born in Ales in a Protestant family, she grew up as the only girl among three brothers.
One of her fondest memories was the return of two of her brothers at the end of World War I.
“It was rare, in families, there were usually two dead rather than two alive. They both came back,” she said last year, on her 116th birthday.
She converted to Catholicism and was baptized at the age of 26. She joined the Daughters of Charity order of nuns at the relatively late age of 41.
Sister Andre was then assigned to a hospital in Vichy, where she worked for 31 years and then spent 30 years in a retirement home in the French Alps before moving to Toulon.
She is the second-oldest living person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group, after Japanese woman Kane Tanaka, who is 118.
Asked what she would say to young people, Sister Andre said: “Be brave and show compassion.”


Lawyer becomes internet sensation after Zoom filter makes him look like kitten

Presidio County lawyer Rod Ponton signed into the Zoom call for a civil forfeiture court hearing appearing a fluffy white kitten. (Screenshot)
Presidio County lawyer Rod Ponton signed into the Zoom call for a civil forfeiture court hearing appearing a fluffy white kitten. (Screenshot)
Updated 10 February 2021

Lawyer becomes internet sensation after Zoom filter makes him look like kitten

Presidio County lawyer Rod Ponton signed into the Zoom call for a civil forfeiture court hearing appearing a fluffy white kitten. (Screenshot)
  • The short video clip, which was shared online by Ferguson, ends with others coaching the attorney on how to remove the cat filter

LONDON: An attorney in Texas has become an internet sensation after accidentally leaving a kitten Zoom filter on during a virtual court hearing.

Presidio County lawyer Rod Ponton signed into the Zoom call for a civil forfeiture court hearing appearing a fluffy white kitten, prompting Judge Roy Ferguson to alert him of his appearance. 

“I'm here live. I'm not a cat,” Ponton replied, while explaining his assistant was trying to turn the filter off, to no avail.

“I can see that,” replied Ferguson.

The short video clip, which was shared online by Ferguson, ends with others coaching the attorney on how to remove the cat filter.

The judge said on Twitter: “These fun moments are a by-product of the legal profession’s dedication to ensuring that the justice system continues to function in these tough times. Everyone involved handled it with dignity, and the filtered lawyer showed incredible grace. True professionalism all around!”

In an interview, Ponton said he has fielded calls from around the world and has been booked for national television.

“I always wanted to be famous for being a great lawyer. Now I'm famous for appearing in court as a cat,” he told The Associated Press.

* With AP