Abra - Ferry, Dubai
These wonderful wooden boats are as much a "thing to do" as a means of transport. They ply the waters of the creek, ferrying passengers from one side to the other, for just a single dirham - a bargain compared to the sky high prices of Dubai.The wooden barges don't look all that safe - they don't even have any sides to them. But they are remarkably stable, and a ride across the creek is a pleasant experience with great views.
Take a local boat like the locals do for just one or two Dirhams and enjoy the sights of the city from the waterways. The Creek area is the best place to take a boat (also called Abra) and it goes upto the Diera station.
Half boat half raft, this is really an efficient and cheap way to cross the creek.
The lively docking stations evidence the typical hustle and bustle of middle east, but transport seems to be safe and to flow quite well. I didn't check the price, but it seems to be cheap, seing the popular use of it.
The Abra is the local arabian small dinghy and is used as a ferry service from Deira to Bur Dubai and vice versa along the Dubai Creek since 80 years ago and since then only 1 AED is paid per travel. However, if you don't have time to ride the abra at the dubai creek and is in the vicinity of Jumeirah Beach near Jumeirah Hotel or at Souk Madinat, then lucky for you, you can ride the local abra located at the man made lagoon surrounding souk madinat. there are several abra riding stations around and the ride last for 25 to 30 minutes around the huge lagoon around but it will cost a princely 50 AED per person to ride the souk madinat version of the Arabian wooden Dinghy, the Abra.
each boat can accomodate 10 person.
The Abras (عبرة in Arabic) are traditional noisy old wooden boats. They are running constantly, ferrying people across the Dubai Creek.
Typically as they stop the passenger disembark and around 20 people waiting will scury aboard and pay the driver the small fee for the crossing. Ther are six boarding stations and they are available 7 days around the clock - every few minutes during the day.
I suggest u to take an Abra ferry from one side of the Dubai Creek to the other as this is a very low cost way of taking in the sights, smells and sounds of old Dubai. The ferry ports are crammed with dhows and their crews transporting goods to and from Dubai. And on both sides of the creek you have no problems finding the shops and souks.
And u can take many photos as u seat inside and can capture the both sides of the Creek at the same time, enjoy ... :)
The simplest way to cross the Dubai Creek (bridges are few and far between) is by Abra - the small boats that ply the waters from bank to bank. Jump on board, take a seat and the boat slips away as soon as it is moreorless full. Your 1 AED will be taken off you on board. It takes only a few minutes and they run every few minutes, linking in particular the souqs on either side of the Creek.
Take an abra to cross the creek. This is a cheap and convenient way to move between Deira and Bur Dubai without getting caught in a massive traffic jam on the road. The abra departs from its station when it's full - which happens very fast. The fare is only Dh1. There are two stations on each side of the creek conveniently located near tourist spots like the textile souq, gold souq, Dubai Museum etc. While crossing, you can have a nice view of the merchant dhows on the Deira-side as well as a beautiful skyline of Bur Dubai and Deira.
If you do not want to share the abra with mostly South Asian commuters, you can pay for the whole abra. I think it costs Dh30.
We hired an Abra [water taxi] for a personal tour of the Dubai Creek. As we walked down to the wharf, I saw the Abra driver push his full load of men off the boat, so he could take us two ladies on the tour. I was mortified.
Firstly, because the disgruntled men had to find another boat to take them across the river, and second, if the driver could get rid of 14 people and make enough money with the two of us, we were probably paying way too much! But we had a lovely cruise up the river.
Next time around we did the local thing and paid 1 dirham (30 cents) for a ride across to the other side.
A ride across the Creek is a great way to see close up the old & new buildings that line either side. The departure points on both sides are close to the entrances of the souks.
As these are commuter vehicles they can get busy at certain times. This however allows you an insight into Dubai for many of its citizens. It is possible though to hire your own Abra & have a tour of the Creek.
My favourite mode of transport that we used in Dubai was an Abra. An Abra is a small, traditional motorboat made from wood, that transports people from one side of Dubai Creek to the other. Kind of like a shared taxi, the abras don't operate to any sort of timetable, they depart when all the seats are full. They seat around 20 passengers, and they seemed to only take a few minutes to full up.
At the time of our visit there were 3 abra stations on each side of the Creek, with abras from each station following a specific (individual) route. When you arrive at the station checked the sign to see which part of the dock for departures or arrivals, and head straight onto one of the boats in the departures area. You pay the fare direct to the driver - and at only 1 dirham (around 14 pence) it was a bargain.
Getting out on the water gives you a good feel for day-to-day life in old Dubai, and offers great views along the Creek. You can also hire abras for private trips up and down the Creek.
On the Deira side, the two main abra stations are up towards the Spice and Gold Souqs, with boats travelling across to Bur Dubai, stopping near to the Bur Dubai souq and the Dubai Museum.
The main mean of transport in the city center in the Abra. Dubai’s old town is divided by the Dubai creek, which is also the harbour of old Dubai. There are no bridges in the northwestern part of the city center, just two tunnels close to the coast. This makes the Abra the ferry of the old town. For just a Dirham perperson, you’ll can get on board of this archaic wooden boats which bring you to the other side of the creek. The Abras have lost a little of their old tradition after becoming motorized. But at least, the Abras are still there and part of everyday life. There are two stations of them on every side of the creekwhere you will find somebody pointing out which one is the next Abra to leave. Although some of the people look as shady as the ones wanting to sell you a Dubai Creek tour, you can trust them as long as they show you one of the small wooden Abras. Just get on board, pay when money is collected (preferable by coins, but smaller bills are also changed) and enjoy the view while you’re being transported to the other side.
RTA (Road and Transport Authority) is doing a splendid job in easing traffic congestion in Dubai. They have introduced water taxis which are air conditioned. these taxis ply across the Dubai creek. the fare is affordable and experience a pleasure.
RTA is also working on the Metro Rail Project with it Green & Red Lines connecting most of Dubai Metropolis - work is in progress and expected to be completed on or before the completion time, as is the case with most of the Government projects in Dubai.
New Air Conditioned buses have been pressed in service. It is a must have experience to feel the hectic pulse of growth in Dubai. RTA Toll Free Number in Dubai 800 90 90.
The most scenic way of getting across the Creek between Deira and Bur Dubai is by taking a ride on a traditional Abra (long boat). You just kind of jump on and off. Watch your step! Seating is on long benches. The cost is half a Dirham (about 15 cents US) and only takes about 5 minutes. Take your camera because you will get some of the best views of Dubai. Magic!
Please note: For Female travellers, please allow room between you and local men. They don't see many ladies on these boats and cultural modesty means they need to afford you extra space.
See my notes under "To Do" tips instead: TAKING AN ABRA