Al Hashemi II
Parimita Barooah Bora
Thursday, August 19, 2010
If you plan to visit Kuwait or stay in Kuwait, you should visit the Al Hashemi II. Whenever anyone visits us from India, we never forget to show them this majestic wooden ship of gigantic proportion which raises high above the Radisson SAS Hotel. This impressive structure is the realization of one man's vision and dedication to preserve Kuwait's maritime heritage for the future generations. Apart from bringing back memories of those graceful bygone days of sail, it has been recognized by Guiness World Records as the largest wooden dhow in the world.
For Husain Marafie, one of the owners of the hotel, this was his third and most ambitious dhow-building project. Mohammedi II, his first enterprise, houses the popular Al Boom Restaurant, followed by Al Ghazeer, which is the Radisson SAS Hotel's pleasure cruiser. Al Hashemi II, the newest dhow dwarfs its older sisters. Little more than a century ago, Husain Marafie’s great-grandfather built a big dhow and named it Al Hashemi. Husain Marafie has named his present dhow Al Hashemi II, in celebration and commemoration of the memory of this forerunner, which saw active service for the Marafie family. For him, the preservation of Kuwaiti maritime heritage and the continuation of his family's shipbuilding and ship-owing traditions that span well over a couple of centuries are a driving passion. It was in 1985 that Husain Marafi started planning how to achieve his unique ambition of constructing a dhow of gigantic proportion.
His intensive involvement in the construction of his other two dhows, and the great amount of scholarship he had undertaken in traditional marine architecture, amply assisted him in this complex enterprise. The tragic Iraqi invasion however caused a setback in the progress of this project. For various reasons, groundwork for the permanent berth of Al Hashemi II, could not resume until the second half of 1995. On 10th February 1997, the actual construction of Al Hashemi II, began with the commencement of laying her keel. The construction of the ship cost more than 30 million dollars through 2001.
It is use as a restaurant and will never be put to sea. While maintaining all the qualities of an ocean-going dhow of the past century, Al Hashemi II, is fitted with an exquisite banqueting hall. A replica of a pre-oil era Kuwaiti village fabricated using contemporary materials and a marine museum to house about 30 scale models of various historical and exciting dhows dedicated to traditional art of shipping has been built beside Al Hashemi II. A variety of marine articles, pictures of traditional significance and photographs depicting various stages of construction of Al Hashemi II, form part of the marine museum. The museum reflects the countries maritime culture. It showcases traditional shipbuilding and seafaring in Kuwait and features large models of different traditional dhows, sea tools and accessories highlighting Kuwait’s long maritime and trading traditions. The large dhow also has a Grand Ball Room and several other reception areas that are used for weddings, conferences, dinners, etc. On the wall of the museum is a certificate, dated 2002, from the Guinness World Records announcing that Al-Hashemi II, the huge and colossal wooden dhow adjacent to the museum, is the largest wooden boat on earth, measuring a world record-breaking 80.4m long, 18.7m wide and weighs an estimated 2500 tones.
Beneath the concrete slab that holds the mass of the ship and the old Kuwaiti village, is a vast parking area, spacious enough to accommodate over a hundred vehicles. Colorfully tiled walls around the parking area depict scenes from Kuwait’s past.
Al Hashemi II, is built incorporating the advantages of traditional expertise with technological advances. A colourful memoir, a fully illustrated book, “Construction of Al Hashemi II” detailing how the dream became reality is available for purchase in the Marine Museum and major bookshops in Kuwait. Apart from preserving the maritime heritage of the country, this project provides an opportunity to witness the fact that wooden ships are not outdated, and the skills to build these vessels have not been lost.
You can visit the hotel, at anytime to see the dhow. But the marine museum closes at 4pm, though the official time is 5pm. So plan accordingly.
There is no entry fee.
Address: Al Hashemi2
Radisson SAS Hotel
Phone no: 25756000
You can even click this link for the location map. http://www.tripwolf.com/en/guide/show/381235/Kuwait/Kuwait-City/Radisson-SAS-Hotel-Kuwait-City.
Just click on “show on map” and you will get a nice map which might be of help.
Parimita Barooah Bora is a onetime lecturer and currently she is a stay-at-home mom. Having done her post graduation in English, Education and Travel n Tourism, she taught for few years until her relocation to Kuwait. She likes to share the experiences of her life as a freelance contributor to various newspapers, magazines and websites. Now, as a freelance writer and teaching children in the evenings at home keeps her busy. Member of IWIK Team.
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