By the middle of the XVII century Ulcinj had become a significant slave market. That was primarily the place for their ransom, as the slaves brought to Ulcinj had been captured by the Ulcinj pirates, however, from other places in the Ottoman Empire too, so that their ransom could be made easier. Most of the slaves in Ulcinj came from Italy and Dalmatia.
The Ulcinj pirates mostly robbed rich villas along the coast of Apulia and Sicily, and then they would capture the owners and sell them as slaves. The people of Ulcinj kept the slaves as convicts and did not use them for any kind of work, but to get the ransom from their relatives, friends, or countrymen of the captured people. Therefore they had to make it possible for the slaves to send messages to their homes or relatives, in order to inform the family or the municipality about their members to have been made into slaves in Ulcinj, so that they would come to offer the ransom.
Very often this happened on a neutral land, mostly in Dubrovnik.During the Khandian war in 1662 in Ulcinj there was the famous Turkish travel writer Evliya Celebi who informed us that this town was visited by “courageous Arnaut men from other towns, they would sit down into frigates and plunder, rob and devastate the hostile coast”. “They would bring precious treasury and chosen slaves and then return to Ulcinj as winners and finally they would give to the sanjak bey a dozen from the loot.
Thus I, poor man, was also in this town and as I was watching it, from the jaur Pulla there came seven frigates with the war loot. From those seven frigates with the loot Yusuf-bey got 91 thousand groats of the imperial dozen and 17 salves”, wrote Celebi. Thus, only during that action the Ulcinj pirates captured 170 slaves at the south of Italy!?After the earthquake in 1667 the people of Ulcinj brought numerous slaves from Dubrovnik, capturing even noblemen. “Should we fail to stop the pirates, then everybody is going to become a slave of Ulcinj”, wrote the people of Dubrovnik to the High Porte in March 1668.By the end of the XVIII century the slave trade had reached its zenith.
Between 1708 and 1712 there were about 200 slaves for sale, and for half of them the ransom was paid in the Adriatic towns. Since the middle of the XVIII century the tastes have changed, so that the courtiers began to look for slaves from Africa. In 1770 Ali Basha from Ulcinj brought from Egypt two women slaves, and in 1775 one group who returned from northern Africa brought with them 13 black male and female slaves.
It was very often the case that the people from Ulcinj bought their slaves in Tripoli, where the slaves would previously have come from Sudan. Later they would have been sold again or brought to Ulcinj, where they soon became free citizens and they would be involved in agriculture and marine activities. Ali Arapi and Daut Kalija were captains and they had their own ships. Kalija was the owner of one of the biggest ships in Ulcinj, as well as of a beautiful house with a carved ceiling, which represented an art rarity.
After Montenegro had taken over Ulcinj in 1880 some Ulcinj Arabs moved to Albania. The ship owner Bet Djuli took his eight Arabs with him, and hadji Mehmet Beci took five of his.