Breakwater hooks capital's fishermen

The ancient pleasures of fishing bring a range of people together down to the Breakwater, Abu Dhabi every Friday morning.

A fisherman lands his catch last Friday morning, down by the breakwater near the Corniche and Marina Mall. Sometimes the fish are biting and sometimes they're not, but for many of the regulars, the gentle pleasures of the ritual are a reward in themselves.
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ABU DHABI // Close to the Marina Mall, next to the Abu Dhabi Theatre, the breakwater attracts people of all nationalities on Friday mornings.

They have come to start their weekend by enjoying the old rituals of fishing.

In comfortable clothes and carrying their gear, they come alone, in couples, in families or in groups. Some try their luck from behind a fence, others sit on rocks at the water's edge.

The breakwater area is one of the oldest places in Abu Dhabi, and many people who grew up in the capital have fond memories of fishing there, or just relaxing with family and friends.

Mohammed al Sadani, an engineer in Abu Dhabi, goes there with his sons.

"My boys like fishing, so I try to get them here every weekend. I find it a nice a hobby and I'm glad they enjoy it." he said.

People start to arrive around 8am, and keep coming throughout the day. It is not unusual to see all ages fishing - hammour and shaari are the main catch - and enjoying the seaside.

Some people go there only when they cannot use their boats because of the weather. Salah Suleiman, a Jordanian manager at an internet technology company, said "we usually go on our friend's boat and fish in the sea, but on rainy days like this one we come here."

He said that in his view fishing is not boring, no matter what some people believe. "It's really fun and relaxing. We love putting on music when we start fishing, usually very early. And after we catch a lot of fish, we take them to the Mina fish market, where they clean them for us. Then we're off to a barbecue and we'll have a feast."

Joe Mindanao, a Filipino salesman, said he goes there every Friday, and sometimes on other days too, in the morning before work. "Life can get hard sometimes, and coming to fish here, hearing the waves crashing on the rocks, gives me a feeling of relief."

Mohammed Tayeh, a Jordanian manager for a tracking system company, is informally known as the best fisherman in the area. He has been coming to the breakwater on Friday mornings for the past 10 years.

"I love this place, I know I can have other choices of fishing places in Abu Dhabi, but I've been doing this here at the breakwater for so long, and I feel a connection to the fish in this area," he said.

No matter the weather, Mr Tayeh said, he comes every Friday, and most people there know him.

"Sometimes people come asking me for help," he explained. "I also taught a lot of my friends about fishing, and now they're addicted to it too.

"Sometimes when I wait too long for a fish I'll be doing something else, like reading a book or socialising with other people here.

"I remember when I was a kid I used to come here with my family," he added, "and buy delicious koshary and we'd just hang around in this area."

Mr Tayeh recently became engaged, and now he brings his fiancée with him sometimes.

"For some reason, this place gives us a peaceful, romantic feeling, and she enjoys it too," he said.

When the sun gets too hot, people start to leave the breakwater. Some come back in the afternoon for some more fishing.

Whatever the time, all the breakwater fishermen interviewed agree that spending their Friday mornings there has become part of their life.

"If we don't come here each weekend, I feel like there's something missing," said Mr Tayeh.