WHAT TO DO IN DUBAI: SOUK MARKETS IN THE OLD TOWN
Getting around Dubai is not just a taxi or a car or a subway. There is a method that is as fascinating as it is efficient for moving from one souk to another, for example. Maritime transport in Dubai consists of traditional abras. water taxis, very cheap and efficient. Dubai was born on the banks of the Creek, the strait that today divides Deira from Bur Dubai, and then extends along the coast of the Persian Gulf. But alongside its exclusive and luxurious neighborhoods dominated by skyscrapers, there is a city that lives in normality every day. This part of the city moves by water taxis to the old city part. Two of the city’s trendiest areas, Downtown Dubai and Dubai Marina, were also built around ponds and man-made lakes. But in those areas the Abras do not sail because they do not suit the luxurious characteristic of the area. The Abras, on the other hand, play a key role in getting around the city. From the most authentic to the most modern, moving on the waters of Dubai allows you to admire the city from another perspective, enjoying truly extraordinary panoramas.
ABRA BOAT AND WATER BUS DUBAI
There are several maritime transports in Dubai, from the most traditional to the most modern, passing to those exclusively for tourism. The Abra are characteristic poor wooden boats, very low where the driver sinks the center of the boat. This element allows him both to control the boat effectively, and to verify that everyone has paid for the ticket. He collects the money himself and does not issue coupons but don’t worry, he is a very regular transport employee. Abras are often used to cross the Creek between Shindaga and Al Ghubaiba stations on the Bur Dubai side. But also between Al Sabkha station on the Deira side. Departures are close and there is no need to wait. However, if you want to relax with freshly cut tender coconut milk before you leave, you can.
The Abras are very convenient for crossing the Creek in minutes. But for some years they have also become one of the main attractions of the city – They are very popular with tourists because of the magnificent panorama of the Creek that can be admired during the crossing which lasts only a couple of minutes.
THE DUBAI FERRY
The Dubai Ferry is a maritime transport system operated by the RTA (Roads and Transport Authority). There are three routes that depart from a departure station, navigate around areas of local interest, and return to the same station. For tourism, in recent years some routes have been introduced that start from one station and arrive at another. The three stations served by the Dubai Ferry are Al Ghubaiba in Bur Dubai, Dubai Marina and Al Mamzar.
You can take a mini cruise aboard modern catamarans that can accommodate up to 100 passengers, equipped with all comforts at different times of the day. One of the cruises much appreciated by tourists is the one that goes from Al Ghubaiba to Dubai Marina. During the journey, you can admire numerous views from the water such as the Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and Atlantis.
THE DUBAI WATER TAXI
In addition to the Abra there are also Dubai Water Taxis for a private boat cruise to a destination of your choice. in this way you will not have to share the journey and you will not have to make compulsory stops. Dubai Water Taxis are also managed and maintained by the RTA and are very modern and efficient boats. The fleet is made up of catamarans equipped with every comfort with LCD screens and reclining backrest. The speed they are able to reach is 25 knots. There are 18 Water Taxi stations around Dubai, and boats operate between 10am and 10pm. They pass through Dubai Marina and the Creek at affordable prices.
ABRA FOR TOURISTS
For many visitors Dubai is only synonymous with unbridled luxury and they do not want to visit the old city on the other side of Dubai. They prefer to stay in the hotel and enjoy the swimming pool or just visit Dubai Marina and luxury car dealerships. For this reason, some abra pass through the artificial lake of Downtown Dubai. They are specially designed for tourists and very expensive but allow you to go around the Dubai Fountain and the Souk Al Bahar. The journey time is about 30 minutes but it is not worth it. Doing this mini-cruise means crossing a totally artificial world devoid of that charm that characterizes real life. Also in the artificial lagoon of Madinat Jumeirah there are numerous passenger pick-up or drop-off stations. Also in this case the costs are higher when compared to 1 dirham of the real abra that cross the Creek.
The Abra lines – currently two lines are operational:
Deira Old Souq Station (Deira) – Bur Dubai Station (Bur Dubai).
Al Sabkha Station (Deira) – Dubai Old Souq Station (Bur Dubai).
The timetable varies according to the line. The first is operational from 5:00 to 24:00 and the second is active 24 hours a day.
Price of the Abra
The fare to cross Dubai Creek is only AED 1 (€ 0.25 or 0,27 $) per passenger and journey. You pay in cash directly on board.
It is also possible to travel along Dubai Creek by renting a private boat. Currently 149 abras are in operation in Dubai, carrying more than 16 million passengers annually. The Dubai Municipality does not consider the possibility of eliminating this comfortable and traditional means of transport. These traditional boats are expected to be modernized to make them greener in the coming years.
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