The Abra is a traditional means of transport made from wood, and is used to ferry passengers across Dubai creek. The abra is an open sided wooden boat that has an awning overhead to protect you from the searing heat that can reach nearly 50 degrees.
The word abra translates in Arabic as ‘cross’, which is obvious when you think about the name ‘Water Abra’ meaning water cross or cross water. There are two types of abra, a motorised abra and the rowing abra, with the motorised abra being the most popular due to being plentiful in numbers and quicker across the creek.
With a capacity of 20 people per trip, there are 148 of these abra in operation which are regulated by the RTA, which run to and from the 2 stations on each side of the creek. Over 20 million passengers are transported across the creek annually on the 10 minute journey. The abra operation starts at 530am and finishes around midnight.
The Abras will not depart from their moorings until it is full to capacity. The cost is 1 dirham per person for the trip and it is polite to pay in coins or small note denomination. The Abra will fill up rapidly and you need to be sure that you are seated safely, as you will not be sitting in comfy seats; this is as basic as it gets, yet it is as traditional and tranquil enough, to be able to cross the creek whilst taking photographs of the stunning views, landmarks and scenery all around you.
The Abra routes operate from:
Deira Old Souk Station (Deira) to Bur Dubai Station (Bur Dubai) – in operation from 5 am to midnight.
Sabkha Station (Deira) to Dubai Old Souk Station (Bur Dubai) – in operation 24 hours a day.
There are 5 rowing abra in use that use a route between two main stations. Approximately 1300 people a month are transported by these abra. They operate from the Creek Park Station between 530am until midnight and from the Public Library Station between 10am and 6pm. The fare is one dirham per passenger per trip; however the rowing abra can be privately chartered for a fee of 30 dirham per hour. The capacity of the abra is 4 passengers maximum.
The best time to take an abra trip is early evening when the sun is setting, and when the lights of Dubai illuminate the creek with all different colours and the Dubai nightlife starts up. This is a fantastic time to take evening photographs of the Emirate cityscape and skyline.