The excitement of Abra crossing on the Dubai creek

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Report and Pictures by Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Moodubelle
Bellevision Media Network

Dubai, 30 March 2010: For someone who goes to Dubai for the first time there are a number of locations that are quite enjoyable and exciting. Among these,  crossing the Dubai Creek by means of a water taxi known as ‘Ábra’ in local language is extremely enjoyable and exciting with beautiful surroundings and cool breeze of the Dubai Creek. For the Abra Crossing Ronald Saby was our guide who took some time off from his busy business schedule and took us around some of the historical and interesting places. 

Dubai Creek, fed by the waters of the Arabian Gulf is the lifeblood of old and new Dubai, a wonderful mix of the past and the present. The Creek that is located at the centre of Dubai separates the city into two parts. The two sides of the Creek are Deira Dubai (north) and Bur Dubai (south).

Historians believe that first human settlement occurred along the Dubai Creek in ancient times. Remains of the early Dubai settlement were found at the mouth of the Dubai Creek. The Dubai Creek was originally smaller in size. However, with the passage of time and increase in population, the land along the coast quickly filled up with human settlements and businesses. This gradually forced people to move to the available land inwards.  As the desert type landscape had little water, the Dubai Creek was enlarged by the local authorities through intensive dredging. The Dubai Creek also was used by boats for transporting goods and people. Hence, the Creek was extended so that these boats could go further inwards as far as possible. 

The contrast of traditional wooden dhows being unloaded at the wharf side against stunning modern architecture is fascinating. The dhow is the traditional sailing vessel of the Emirates. These beautiful wooden boats are used for tourist rides as well as for trade.  If one takes a walk alongside the colourful painted dhows moored on the Creek on Baniyas Road, he can observe the hectic activity around these dhows.  These dhows arrive each day from India, Iran and Oman. One can watch these dhows being loaded and unloaded with verities of goods. These dhows are the chief means of transport of goods to and from Dubai.

Several tour operators offer Creek cruises with buffet lunch or dinner and entertainment on these traditional wooden sailing dhows. A sunset trip is worth the money one pays for the cruise. An evening cruise on the Creek aboard one of the glass-topped Bateaux Dubai is a luxurious way to enjoy the views. Four-course dinners, white table linen and live piano music adds to the excitement of cruising on the Dubai Creek.

One can cross the Dubai Creek by means of a water taxi which local residents call Abra. Abra is a flat-bottomed single engine craft that can carry about 20 passengers seated under a canopy. The operator, who stands at the centre of the hull, steers the vessel using a wheel that is connected to a wooden rudder by a series of ropes and pulleys. It takes under 10 minutes by Abra to cross between Deira and Bur Dubai. It is great and breezy way to travel. These Abras can be found all along the Creek in Dubai and transport around 40,000 passengers per day who also enjoy the great views. Abras were once the primary means of transportation between the two sides of the Dubai Creek before the construction of several bridges and a tunnel enabled vehicles to make the crossing.

The popularity of Abra crossing can be attributed to its low fare and frequency. The fee for an Abra crossing has slowly risen over the last few decades. Thirty years ago, a trip would have cost between 10 and 25 fils depending on the exact starting point and destination on the other side. The present standard fee to cross the Dubai Creek by an Abra is one Dirham making it one of the most affordable transport systems in the world.

An Abra leaves as soon as it filled to capacity, which is about 20 persons. Many local Dubai residents, therefore, also use Abras as a daily transportation method. According to an estimate, Abras transport on average nearly 15.000 passengers daily between Deira and Bur Dubai. During the rush hours people usually use Abras to cross the Creek as the three Dubai Creek crossing points- Al Garhoud Bridge, Al Makthoum Bridge and Al Shindagha become congested and traffic jams can be spotted daily.

Abras are used not only for crossing from one side of the Dubai to the other but also for going to a location up or downstream and have a look at the beautiful scenery. There are a number of beautiful locations where one can go and there are especially a number of impressive buildings in Bur Dubai that are built in the lovely traditional Arabic architectural style. One of the notable structures on the Bur Dubai side of the creek is the ‘Ruler’s Court’. There are a number of tall and mirrored tower buildings on the Deira side of Dubai.


On another day, Valerian Alva took us around the famous Dubai Gold Souk, Iranian market and the vegetable and fish market. The Gold Souk located close to the creek in Deira is world-renowned for the shops laden with gold and jewellery. Noted as the largest gold bazaar in the world, the Gold Souk in Deira is the reason that Dubai has received the name "City of Gold”. The Gold Souk comprises of over 300 shops that sell verities of gold jewellery, diamonds and other precious stones. According to some estimates, at any given point of time around ten tons of gold can be found in the souk.

The Iranian market with spices and dry fruits across the road from the creek is another tourist attraction. Both the Iranian market and the old gold souk are located in old traditional type of enclosures.  Travelling little farther tourists can visit the vegetable, fish and meat market. The fish market has both fresh and dry fish section with verities of fish.


On both sides of the Dubai Creek there are a number of promenades that can be found at different locations which the local residents call as Dubai Corniche. Many local residents and tourists take a walk along the Dubai Creek and Dubai Corniche. During weekends and holidays families and tourists throng to these Corniches to experience a quiet and peaceful time whilst enjoying the beautiful views of the Dubai Creek and magnificent buildings that line the Creek. Many joggers can be spotted daily at Corniches in Dubai.


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Comments on this Article
Theresa D souza, Dombivli Tue, March-30-2010, 10:52
Hi, Aunty, Uncle. When i was watching the article i thought i am in Dubai. Nice pictures. In that pictures i was looking at you ll. Have a happy holiday and enjoy the trip.Wishes from all of us.
Anil Alva, Moodubelle Tue, March-30-2010, 3:11
Superb photography.Picture itself explain the beauty of Dubai. I am sure Dr. Eugene is spending happy moments in Dubai.Thank you sir,
Victor D Souza, Moodubelle / Doha Tue, March-30-2010, 1:13
Great to see the beautiful places of Dubai such as the architecture of buildings, Dubai creek, souks, Iranian market etc. Thank you Dr. Eugene for making it possible for us to see these spectacular places, through your pictures and informative article.
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