Dubai Water Canal

Written by Silvana Fitzpatrick

The Dubai Water Canal is a remarkable feat of engineering and has quickly become one of Dubai's most popular tourist destinations. This stunning canal has created a new waterfront for the city and is expected to attract an additional 1.5 million visitors annually to Dubai and contribute AED 20 billion to the economy by 2030. This AED 2.7 billion project stretches from Business Bay to Safa Park, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah 2, and Jumeirah Road and opens out into the Arabian Gulf.

This project is actually an extension of the city’s historic waterway, Dubai Creek. It passes through Design District and Business Bay and also cuts across the Sheikh Zayed Road before it joins the sea.

The construction of the canal was a massive undertaking and took three years to complete. The Sheikh Zayed Road bridge alone cost half a billion dirhams. The Dubai Water Canal has essentially transformed a significant portion of the city into an island and has become a key component of Dubai's future development prospects. With its stunning architecture and views, the Dubai Water Canal is an essential landmark for anyone visiting Dubai.

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Dubai Water Canal Architecture

In a city known for its futuristic and ambitious projects, the Dubai Water Canal stands out as one of its most impressive achievements. The canal opened in late 2016 after three years of complex construction, emerging as a technical feat. More than 3.2 million cubic metres of earth were dredged, and the sides were strengthened with 15,000 concrete blocks weighing 40 tonnes.

The canal measures 120 metres wide at its widest point, 80 metres wide at its narrowest point, and goes 6 metres deep. It can carry up to 97,000 vessels yearly at a width of 50 metres and a depth of 7 metres. Street lamps lining up the boardwalk are powered by solar panels that span the water canal during the day and the lamp posts are also equipped with mobile charging stations.

The cityscape gradually transforms as you move forward towards Business Bay. The Burj Khalifa may be seen on one side, along with many skyscrapers that get taller and more futuristic as the skyline is revealed, while on the other side of Safa Park, next to the Sheikh Zayed Road bridge, you can see the towering skyscrapers of Al Habtoor City. The canal has brought to life the Business Bay skyline and propelled the district into one of the leading financial centres and tourist attractions in Dubai.

The development around the canal is still in progress, but once completed, the area on both sides is expected to span 80,000 square metres and become an entertainment and upscale living hub.

Dubai Water Canal Boardwalk

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As the sky welcomes the night, the water canal lights up. It is time to explore the boardwalk and enjoy the bright lights everywhere, shining from the lamp posts, the bridges, and the canal waterfall that appears as a colourful sheet flowing into the water.

The mechanical waterfall in Business Bay is one of the main attractions along the boardwalk, flooded with blue and purple lights, facing away from Al Habtoor City. The colourful waterfall runs from 8 pm to 10 pm daily, cascading from the bridge as it gives way to the approaching boats. When a boat approaches underneath the bridge, the sensors pick it up and the waterfall opens like a curtain, only to close again once the boat has passed.

The boardwalk spreads from Business Bay to Jumeirah Beach Road, paved with beautiful views and scenery, a perfect spot for families to enjoy an evening stroll and beautiful sunsets. Dubai Water Canal Boardwalk also doubles as a jogging track and a 12-kilometre cycling track. The promenade is usually packed with joggers and passers-by who come to admire the views and enjoy a walk with their pets.

Dubai Water Canal Footbridges

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The full length of the Dubai Water Canal boasts five pedestrian bridges, all of which display unique design and aesthetic specifications. Three of the bridges connect either side of the canal in a symphony of engineering marvel and architectural artistry. The lighting design was delivered by Christos Papachristos – CPLD Greece.

The Safa Bridge, measuring 120 metres in length and 6 metres in width, was the first to be built. Hanging from two massive Y-shaped piers, this bridge is a sight to behold. It is supported by two 90-tonne forked antennas that were installed inside the canal before it was flooded with water.


The S-shaped Tolerance Bridge, which is over 200 metres long, is the first and only clear-span suspension bridge in the Middle East. Named in honour of the International Day of Tolerance, this bridge offers pedestrians a 690-foot-long walking and cycling path over the Dubai Water Canal. Its deck appears to float above the water suspended by a 1,700-tonne arch and steel cables that support it. The arch required two 600-tonne cranes to lift it into place, while the bridge was supported by a series of temporary steel towers.

The third bridge symbolically named Dubai Water Canal Bridge looks like a twisted column of squares and is a testament to the complexity of engineering. The 140-metre-long, 3.5-meter-wide pedestrian bridge creates a sense of dynamic movement for pedestrians as they pass through the walkway. It is regarded as one of the most beautiful bridges in the world and it serves as a gateway that connects Dubai's rich history to its vibrant future, representing the city's dynamic vision and reinforcing the notion of "tomorrow."

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You can also experience the Dubai Water Canal while sailing away on a cruise along its waters. You can choose a traditional abra ride, a 3-hour yacht cruise with snacks and refreshments, or a dhow cruise with the best views across the Arabian Gulf and Dubai Skyline.

Whether you decide to explore it by foot, by bridges, or by water, Dubai Water Canal offers a slice of everything the emirate stands for, as part of one of the world's biggest urban transformations and a point in time where past and future meet, as one.

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