The Dubai Creek; A Worlds Experience Packed In One Location
Hi, Sunil here to talk about one of my favorite places to visit in Dubai, the Dubai Creek.
This is where I spotted a Bollywood film being shooted shot in production.
This is where I learned the old history of Dubai.
This is where I met the lower middle-class citizens of Dubai that taught me a lot.
How to Experience The Dubai CreekBack to topic, there are a few ways you can explore the Dubai Creek further.
You can take a dhow tour, ride the Abra (water taxi), do a dinner cruise on the Creek or simply walk along the side of the creek. More on this below
Observing the activity on the Creek is a wonderful experience. You will see dhows, modern yachts, cabin cruisers and abras all coexist together on the same body of water. It is quite a scene to see, especially when two come close and squeeze past each other.
You can get on tour boats which you can find on the Deira side. I recommend the dhow tour however. You can get this by signing up for the Dubai Big Bus Tour.
Consider the time of the day when you go for your tour. I recommend going closer to lunch time. The sun will be sharp and the scenery and water very clear. You will also see many local Muslims stop their activities to pray.
Dont be surprised to see Mosques floating on water as well. I have seen these and they are quite neat. When I asked a fellow passenger, they said it is a way to promote the religion of Islam. I am sure there is no hidden agenda and that they are simply a religious décor.
The Size of the CreekThe creek itself used to be about 14 kilometers long (approx 8.7 miles). It was recently extended to 10 kilometers or approximately 7.6 miles. This extension was done as part of Dubais Business Bay Development project.
When I went to Dubai in 2008, I noticed the creek extend through the business district to the main freeway in Dubai (Sheikh Zayed Road).
Creek Placement & FactsThe Dubai Creek divides greater Dubai into two areas, the Deira side (Northern side most known for its souks local markets) and the Bur (Old) Dubai side (a heavily residential area with live markets and small shops integrated in residential streets).
The 14 kilometer Creek is actually an inlet of the sea that cuts into the land. This Creek has been very important in Dubais history and its emergence as a top class global city.
It is the Creek side where traders and merchants met from nearby nations to conduct trading. It is the Creek side where fishing and pearl diving (the original industries in Dubai) were done.
The Gold & Spice SouksWhile you are in the area, make sure to visit two of Dubais most popular traditional markets, the gold and the spice souk. A Souk is a market, literally the old kind of market where barter and negotiation still is quite common.
The Dubai gold souk is famous around the world for the amount, quality and price of jewelry it carries on open display. The spice souks is also quite popular. Here you will find boxes, sacks and jars of every form of herbs, spices and incense from around the Middle East.
Merchants will let you try small portions too before you buy anything. But be careful not to inhale large doses of something you are not supposed to lol! You can get very good deals on expensive spices such as saffron, henna, dried rosebuds, cinnamon bark, vanilla pods, cardamom, coriander, cumin, cloves and you name it.
You can also get some good quality dry fruit and nuts here. I bought a lot of good almonds from here. Other goodies are joss sticks, incense burners, water pipes, pottery goods and basket spice containers.
The Arab Dhow TourThe best way to explore the Dubai Creek is by taking a one hour tour on an Arab dhow. While on the dhow, observe the beautiful and historic architecture that surrounds the Creek.
You will also see many local merchants and traders conducting business in their small shops. Its just beautiful to see the city come together by all the small individual functions conducted by a variety of individuals. Makes you remember what it takes to make the world go round.
You will see quite a contrast between the two sides separated by the Creek. The Bur Dubai side will have buildings that are more traditional Middle Eastern in style. This is the traditional and original Dubai architecture. My favorite aspect of these structures is the wind towers. This is how they kept buildings cool. It was their version of central air conditioning.
The Deira side is the modern side of Dubai with all the unique looking skyscrapers.
Some footage of the Dubai Creek sunset experience
Take the Abra (Water Taxi)Taking the Abra from one side of the Creek to the other has got to be one of my favorite things to do around the Dubai Creek area. It is such a peaceful ride and quite unique to Dubai.
I guess you can say it is similar to the Gandola rides in Italy. But the surroundings just make it so unique and interesting within Dubai. Locals love traveling by the Abra. It costs about a quarter (.25 cents USD) to go from Deira to Bur Dubai and vice versa.
The Abra is a water taxi that is mainly used for public transportation. They are not meant to travel long distances and I havent seen them anywhere else outside the Creek area. They are pretty much small, motorized wooden boats.
Abras come in all shapes and sizes. Typically however, they are smaller in size and hold about 20 people at a time. You dont have to buy tickets. They dont exist! To ride the Abra, you simply wait for your turn. When the boat comes, just hop on it and pay the driver one Dirham.
A short video on the Abras
Walking & DiningTwo other alternatives to experiencing the Dubai Creek are the walk along its coast or to schedule a dinner cruise. Dinner cruises typically last a couple hours. The boat doesnt really go anywhere. It just keeps circling the are going back and forth. Nonetheless it is a good way to observe your surroundings.
The Dubai Creek is a working area for laborers. There is a wharf on the Deira side where goods that come to Dubai are unload. So take the Abra to the Deira side and go on a walk along the wharf.
You will be able to observe the day to day work of the laborers and how they load and unload goods at the dock. A lot of the goods are quite visible and you will be able to see the kinds of things coming into the Dubai docks.
Future PlansI have read in multiple sources that another 1.2 miles will be added to the length of the Dubai Creek by 2010. The design is such that the creek will finally reach the ocean which will create a full circular path for the waters to flow through.
It will appear similar to the Dubai Waterfront area where it appears like the city is cut by and surrounded with water. A ferry service will also start sometime in 2008 to transport the citizens wanting to cross the Creek.
Currently only the Abras go across the Dubai Creek as a means of transportation. However the addition of the Ferry service should lighten up the load on the Abra rowers.
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