‘Water-buses’ for Dubai Creek

July is said to be the month when the new ‘water-buses’ start to operate on Dubai Creek. The Creek is an inlet of the Arabian Gulf which runs through the centre of the city and around which the original settlement which became Dubai was built.

I was a little concerned when they were announced because it sounded as though their design would be very modern, and because of the historical nature of the Creek that would have been a shame.

However the city’s Roads & Transport Authority has just released illustrations of the design and they’ve come up with a pretty good compromise in my opinion.


The boats’ design “combines the traditional form of Abra which draws from the UAE heritage and between modernity and the latest advances in modern technology” according to the RTA website, and the illustration tends to support that claim.

The ‘abras’ mentioned are small open-air wooden ferries holding 20 passengers sitting back-to-back on benches running down the centre of the boat. They’re currently the only way to cross the Creek, apart from bridges and a tunnel, and they’re a great way to cross it, creating a wonderful atmosphere. But in the heat and humidity of the summer, when temperatures can reach 50C with humidity in the ninety-percent range, it can be uncomfortable.

The new ‘water-buses’ will be air-conditioned with glass walls and will seat around 35 people. They will initially run a loop service with two stops on either side of the Creek and will run every 10 minutes between 6am and midnight.

It’s all part of the plans for extended public transport to meet the city’s exploding population, with links to be built via tunnels joining abra, water-bus and Metro stations. The Metro is the new rail system which is under way, combining underground and overground sections through the city and into ‘New Dubai’.

Eventually the water-bus service will be extended into ‘New Dubai’ along the coastline, including the artificial Palm Islands and The World.

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