The 2nd on my list of Top 10 Dubai Attractions is an abra ride on the creek.
Hong Kong has the Star Ferry. Dubai has the abra – the cheapest and, in my view, most enjoyable way of crossing the creek from Dubai to Deira, especially in the refreshingly cool winter months.
These traditional wooden boats, unique to Dubai, ferry up to twenty passengers at a time across the creek for the modest fee of Dh1 per person. There are two routes. One departs from the Bur Dubai abra station in front of the Bank of Baroda building and drops you off close to the Spice Souq on Deira side. The other route runs between Bur Dubai Textile Souq abra station and the Al Sabkha abra station on Deira side, not far from Baniyas Square.
The drivers do not go in for small talk and concentrate on collecting the fares while skilfully negotiating the currents and marine traffic on the creek before smoothly docking at the purpose built jetties which have made embarking and disembarking much safer than it used to be in the old days.
Most passengers tend to spend the five minute journey in silence, admiring the view, contemplating the clear green water and trying not to inhale too much of the abra’s rather nasty exhaust fumes. (Tip: sit near the front of the boat for slightly fresher air). Occasionally locals throw crumbs to the seagulls who always seem to follow boats.
Dubai is not blessed with abundant natural resources. It is not rich in oil and gas unlike its neighbour Abu Dhabi. There are no rivers and its scorching summer temperatures and scant rainfall make agriculture next to impossible. In the past, apart from fishing and pearling, Dubai’s only economic activity of note was trade and at this they excelled. The creek was where it all took place and ocean-going dhows stocked up with all manner of goods destined for nearby countries. Today Dubai has massive modern container port facilities at Port Rashid and Jebel Ali but even so, the creek is still bustling with traditional wooden ships being loaded with cars, fridges, cooking oil, rice, tires and goodness knows what else for shipment to Iran, other Gulf countries, India, Pakistan, Somalia, Kenya, Yemen and elsewhere.
One can only admire what an amazing job Dubai has done in creating a thriving city, commercial hub and tourist destination out of almost nothing.
Next Post : Top Dubai Attraction No.3, Spice Souq and Gold Souq