A sambuk in Aden in 1936
The hull of a small sambuk at the Dubai Museum, Al Fahidi Fort, UAE

Sambuk (ultimately from Middle Persian sambūk[1]), known in New Persian as Sunbūk (سنبوک‎) and in Arabic as Sambūk (سنبوك‎), Sambūq (سنبوق‎) and Ṣumbūq (صنبوق‎), is a type of dhow, a traditional wooden sailing vessel. It has a characteristic keel design, with a sharp curve right below the top of the prow. Formerly sambuks had ornate carvings.[2]


The exact origins of the dhow are lost to history. Most scholars believe that it originated in India from 600 BC to 600 AD, although there are some who claim that the sambuk may be derived from the Portuguese caravel.[3][4] However, Portuguese caravels only appeared in the area in the late 15th century.

Sambuks of different sizes were used along the coasts of the Persian Gulf and the southern Arabian Peninsula. This type of boat was widespread in Southern Arabia, in places such as Saham and Sur in Oman —where it was formerly used in pearl diving and fishing,[5] as well as in the Yemeni coast of the Red Sea. The sambuk is the largest type of dhow seen in the Persian Gulf today.

Usually a sambuk had one or two masts[6] with lateen sails,[7] but nowadays most are motorized.[8] It has been one of the most successful dhows in history.[9]

Sambuks were quite accurately drawn by Belgian cartoonist Hergé in The Red Sea Sharks.[10][circular reference]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Dionisius A. Agius (2008) Classic Ships of Islam: From Mesopotamia to the Indian Ocean, BRILL, ISBN 9004158634. p. 314.
  2. ^ Dhows of the Persian Gulf – a brief introduction. agmgifts.co.uk
  3. ^ Taylor, James. "Traditional Arab sailing ships". The British-Yemeni Society. Archived from the original on 15 July 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  4. ^ Sambuk – Robert's Model ships and boats
  5. ^ The Traditional Dhow. Omanet.om. Retrieved on 2013-09-02.
  6. ^ Traditional Arab sailing ships Archived 2012-07-15 at the Wayback Machine. Al-bab.com. Retrieved on 2013-09-02.
  7. ^ Sambuk – World sailing Ships. Sailhistory.com (2007-10-26). Retrieved on 2013-09-02.
  8. ^ Picture of a motorized Sambuk. Traveladventures.org. Retrieved on 2013-09-02.
  9. ^ Oman, a Seafaring Nation, Ministry of Information, Oman 1979
  10. ^ Coke en stock

Further readingEdit

  • Clifford W. Hawkins, The dhow: an illustrated history of the dhow and its world.

External linksEdit