The site of fisherman sailing on the Shatt al -Arab waterway had become a thing of the past. Southern Iraq's marshlands have been revived recently which is encouraging the fishermen in a new way and boat maker of that region are finding new hopes for their businesses.
During 1990, the area was completely dumped and drained by the president of Iraq at that time, Mr. Saddam Hussein. Followed to that, a Shi'ite uprising against his regime in 1991 was also the reason of several damages to this site.
But the barren moonscape has once again become the scene of a rich ecosystem, with efforts underway to restore the fabled area, believed to be site of the biblical Garden of Eden. As the marshlands thrive again, fishermen are gaining new hopes. Dawood Salman, a boat maker, remarked, “We stopped making boats in the 1990s when the marshes were drained, no one wanted boats any more. We completely abandoned the boat craft industry and resorted to other crafts. Some of us worked in construction, while others chose different crafts.”
He told that as the place is getting revived, he is gaining encouragement for building new boats. He is hoping for steady business in future days. The Basra province of Iraq boasts to be one of the largest boat producers. However, the shortage in raw material is a concern in present days for the boat makers.
Nowadays, boat makers prefer for fiberglass as raw material for producing boats, which is generally used for constructing vessels. Such boats promise to be more durable as revealed by the local boat maker industries. On this context, Salman Dawood, remarked, “Now, fiberglass makes it easy to make boats. So, instead of fitting each piece of wood, (we have) one-piece fiberglass --- you can finish most of the work in a day. The small boat now takes three to four days to be built while the wooden boat used to take ten days.”
Most of Salman's customers are Marsh Arabs from nearby Nassirya city and Maysan province. Definitely, boat making industry of Iraq has been rejuvenated to some exptent but it is far from a boom, which is expected or hoped by the local industries and the workers.
Salman also added, “Previously, the number of boat builders, in particular in Garmat Ali town, there were about 20 of them working in private workshops. Now there are two boat builders in this area, two others in Sahla town and one in the market area. There are only five builders left out of 20.”
As the marshlands are improving their nature and reviving strongly, chances for local habitants are getting higher in terms of job opportunities or business opportunities. It can also be expected that this positive growth will soon impact largely to the economy of Iraq.