The Dhow (here a large "Boutre") is not an Arab ship, it is a veritable family of vessels sharing common characteristics, such as the hull, large (about 4 to 1), cut with the serpe, with three masterpieces whose bow, long and the keel, and the stern, less inclined, and one or two masts carrying sails Latin-sétie. The smallest ones are only eight meters for 50 tons. The larger ones, like the Baghala, up to 500 tons and more. Their construction has not varied since their appearance, presumably in the late Middle Ages. Dams were rarely decked to maximize load carrying. It was a coaster, which could be stranded on the shore, and resume the sea with the tide every day, like the cargo ships of antiquity.

Thanks to the simplicity of her rigging, the crew could be reduced to a few men. The Batel or Batil, Baqarah, Dinghy, Kotia, Odam, Daou, Balam, Mtepi, Baghala, Shuai, Zaima and Zarook are derivatives thereof. The dhows are always built of wood, although the propulsion has long been made by a robust diesel engine, see a large outboard motor. Some zarooks or Zarougs are also the favorite craft of traffickers and pirates from Madagascar to Somalia.

Sailing dinghies traditionally use the monsoon to transport dates or mangrove forests between India and the Persian Gulf. Some Dhows are more generally lighter and finer line derivatives that link Madagascar and the Bay of Bengal, still by cabotage. Their construction was solid and in their time the dhow was copied by the Portuguese, who created the caravel all in oak, but based on the same architecture.