When it comes to enjoying life by the waterside in Dubai, most people look toward the sandy beaches of the Jumeirah coastline, the constantly thrumming Dubai Marina or newer developments such as Palm Jumeirah or Pearl Jumeirah.   

A Private Abra Ride on the Creek

October 15, 2017
Written by Arpan Ghosh

When it comes to enjoying life by the waterside, most people look toward the sandy beaches of the Jumeirah coastline, the constantly thrumming Dubai Marina or panoramic ocean views from luxury penthouses in Dubai's iconic Palm Jumeirah. However, if you head to the east of the city and over to the historic Deira Creek, you’ll find there’s a whole new (or old, in this case) world of waterfront wonders to discover. Thanks to a new initiative by the UAE’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA), you’ll now be able to do that in the comfort of your own private boat.

Most denizens of Deira and the neighboring district of Bur Dubai, which sit on opposite ends of the Creek, enjoy a ride on the abra, a traditional wooden boat that is most commonly used as a ferry. Taking the abra tends to be an inexpensive and quick affair. While that’s certainly convenient, it also means large crowds to contend with, especially on weekends.

However, a recent service offered by the RTA is about to change all that. Now, private abras can be rented on an hourly, daily or even a monthly basis.

Dubai_AbraA newer range of fancier motorized abras are available for private rental, featuring a Diesel engine and able to accommodate a maximum of 20 passengers. Sporting a traditional design, the new abras have been outfitted with the highest quality materials to provide a comfortable and safe ride, and they’re also equipped to handle passengers with disabilities.

Abra rides may not hold the same glamor as jetskiing or parasailing off the coast of the Palm, but they are perhaps the best way to experience the truest essence of Dubai and to sample a piece of its rich history.



A number of souks, or traditional markets, exist along the borders of the Creek, offering an authentic shopping experience that even the glitziest of malls won’t quite be able to match. The most popular of these is the Gold Souk, spread out over the Deira Creekside and encompassing a vast array of jewellery stores. Its neighbors are the equally well-known Spice Souk and the slightly smaller Perfume Souk. On the other side of the Creek, along the shores of Bur Dubai, is the Textile Souk, also known as the Old Souk. This is perhaps the best place to find traditional clothing, as well as a wide array of fabrics to suit all bespoke tailoring needs.

If wandering the markets isn’t quite up your alley, then you can just enjoy a peaceful abra ride along the Creek with family or a group of close friends and take in the sights.

Gold_Souk_DubaiA rental booking needs to be made a minimum of 3 working days in advance, to ensure that a boat is available. You can opt for an hourly rental at AED 580/hour, daily for AED 5,100 per day, or take a monthly package for AED 151,800. Just make sure you have your booking number with you, and you’re ready to enjoy a luxury cruise down Dubai’s historic waterways, at your convenience.