As long ago as 1580, an Italian traveller reported that Dubai was a prosperous pearl-diving and fishing community. It was still much the same at the beginning of the 20th century, when over 300 pearl-diving dhows were stationed in Dubai�s creek.
Pearl divers risked life and limb to gather oysters from the sea bed, often diving for more than two minutes at a time, with little more than a nose-clip and a heavy stone to weight them down.
Such was the renown of Dubai's pearls, that pearling continued to be the mainstay of the city's prosperity, until the development of the cultured pearl in the 1940s led to the collapse in demand for the natural variety.
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