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INTRODUCTION

For most o f the year, a strong and steady w i n d blows d o w n the Gulf, as it has done since recorded history began. In the sober words o f The Gulf Pilot, published in 1898, 'The prevailing w i n d in the G u l f is undoubtedly the north western, called by the natives, Shamal. This w i n d blows d o w n the Gulf, its direction changing wi th the trend o f the coast... The Shamal blows about nine months o f the year... It blows almost incessantly during June and part o f July (called the Barih, or great Shamal; the Arabs say there are forty days o f this wind. ) . . Dur ing a Shamal after rain, it may be clear and the sky clouded but generally the air is loaded wi th dust.. Far off the land, vessels' decks and rigging get covered wi th fine dust.'