Things to Do in Dubai – Dhow Cruise on Dubai Creek
A step up from taking an abra across the creek is to sail in style by cruising on a dhow. Taking a dhow cruise on Dubai Creek is one way to get a real feel for the old part of Dubai. Once the hub where ships would dock and all business was done, the creek is now more about tourism, though still forms an important part of business on the street. Dubai Creek is one of the places you need to experience if you visit Dubai. You don’t actually have to do anything there apart from soaking up the atmosphere – but we think taking a dhow cruise on Dubai Creek gives a good feel for the history of the place – a million miles away from the skyscrapers of the modern era. The creek is a natural inlet for sea water which cuts right through the centre of the city. Also known as Khor Dubai, this is a saltwater creek which is located in the city. This creek was referred to as River Zara by the Ancient Greeks. The creek actually divides Dubai into two sections: Bur Dubai and Deira. The Dubai Creek is the only harbour or port in Dubai and its commercial importance cannot be ignored. There are some great buildings located on either sides of the creek such as Sheraton Dubai Creek, Chamber of Commerce, Deira Twin Towers, Dubai Creek Tower and the National Bank.
The standard cruise is to take the dhow to Al-Maktoum Bridge as this would enable you to see both the modern and historic landmarks of Dubai. You’ll see a lot of boatmen who would be willing to take visitors on a tour from the abra stations to the mouth of the Dubai Creek and then inland to the Maktoum Bridge. This tour usually lasts for an hour or so. Seeing Dubai from the creek is different simply because so much has grown around it, yet the creek itself has remained the same.
Another alternative is to take a dinner cruise on the Creek. Many tour operators offer reasonably priced tours throughout the day. There’s usually some pre-recorded history blurb, but it is great to just get the breeze as you chug through the routes that many traders from Iran and all over the world have sailed. The Dhow cruise is a leisurely activity, fun for the kids but equally interesting for the adults and great for first timers in Dubai.
Points of Note
If you have the time then you must go for a stroll around the wharf and get a glimpse of the trading heritage of Dubai. You will be able to spot a lot of dhows docking to unload their merchandise.
If you are on your honeymoon then you can make some special preparations to surprise your significant other! Even if you aren’t honeymooning you can still rent the entire vessel or half the vessel in order to enjoy a private romantic cruise in the Dubai Creek.
Bateaux Dubai is the dhow cruise that stands out amongst them all on a high end huge dhow, though you may want to brave a lower end dhow to get a real experience, for which we recommend the Al Mansour Dhow
Recent dhow cruises have popped up in the Marina – but they don’t compare to the real ones on the Creek.
When – You can visit the Dubai Creek at any time of the day if you are just planning to take a tour along the waterway. For a more exquisite plan, you can opt for the evening cruise under the moonlight which usually lasts for two hours. It starts from 8.30 pm and ends at 10.30 pm. Guests are picked up from their hotels between 7 pm or 8 pm.
How long – A typical Dubai Creek tour where one will be sailing through the creek in an abra would last for about an hour or less while the evening cruise lasts for two hours or more.
Location – Ask for Dubai Creek – you’ll notice all the boats docked up and ready to leave. If you have booked a package then your tour operator would pick you up from your hotel.
Cost – Depending on your tour operator you can pay anything from Dhs 120 upwards. For a decent Dhow expect to pay about Dhs 300 including dinner.
Booking – ask your hotel to arrange a dhow cruise – or turn up at the creek at about 7pm. The most established dhow tours are:
Bateaux Dubai bateauxdubai.com 04 315 4777
Al Mansour Dhow radissonblu.com/hotel-dubaideiracreek 04 222 7171
Book directly and cut out the middleman