Dubai Creek comes full circle
Dubai - In an open letter, Shaikh Mohammed spoke about the Creek and it's significance to Dubai
Shaikh Mohammed explains in an open letter on LinkedIn written a day after the Dubai Canal opened:
His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, once said about the creek, that it "shaped Dubai and became the source of its survival, distinction and growth over the years. It is the very heart and soul of Dubai - its raison d'être."
Evolution of the Creek: A Historic Journey: From the Creek to the Canal
Such has always been the case with Dubai and its creek, which has shaped the city for over 100 years.
The thriving history of Dubai and the Creek starts as far back as 114 years, in 1902, when Shaikh Maktoum bin Hasher, Ruler of Dubai at the time, abolished all custom duties on imports - a move bold even by today's standards. As taxes increased across the Arabian Gulf at the port of Lingeh, the popularity of the Dubai Creek exploded; Indian goods flooded into the city's port, and Dubai quickly became the Gulf's hub for re-export to neighbouring ports and inland markets. Many merchants moved to the city, and it transformed into a regional headquarters for trade.
At that time, the pearl industry was booming, and the pearl trade flourished on the coast of the creek - the industry was the backbone of Dubai's economy. With the Great Depression hitting the world in 1929, followed by the Second World War, everything changed; international and regional trade suffered, the pearl industry nearly vanished, and the global economy crumbled.
In the years that followed, Dubai and other Gulf cities suffered through an extended economic recession; people had relied on the pearl trade, and its demise led to mass bankruptcies and hardships.
"Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the pearl-dependent economy diversified, allowing the emirate to prosper again and become the hub of Gulf trade."
But Dubai was fortunate; it had the region's most progressive trade policies, and was located on the coast of the creek.
The creek of the future
Dubai's development into the metropolis that it is today is arguably the most impressive development worldwide. One important turning point for the city, when it was on the cusp of growth, was the dredging of the Creek in 1960. Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid described the vibrancy of the creek at that time, saying: "No captain could wish for a safer and more secure port than Dubai Creek. The 12-kilometre waterway is one of the best natural harbours in the Gulf, if not in the world."The creek, sunny skies, desert, sandy beach and sea, along with progressive policies and wisdom, came together to make Dubai a uniquely successful metropolis. The widening and deepening of the creek increased Dubai's trade exponentially, and increased the population surrounding that area. With that began one of the first major infrastructure undertakings in the city - the building of the Al Maktoum Bridge, which opened to traffic in 1963.
As the Jebel Ali Port opened and oil became a more prominent source of income, the economic significance of the creek decreased but its cultural value remains untouched. Today, the creek is a symbol of Dubai's identity and strength, its dhows floating by as if on a page in a history book.
The creek is also, as always, a symbol of Dubai's growth and ambition. As the new Dubai Water Canal opens, the water of the creek officially runs through the city. Shaikh Mohammed once said: "The future belongs to those who can imagine it, design it and execute it. It isn't something you await, but rather create." The creek has officially helped create Dubai's future.
The Dubai Water Canal introduces a brand new phase of Dubai's life - the heart of Dubai is now an island. With the excavation of over 10 million cubic metres, as well as the addition of 18 kilometres to Dubai's waterway, the many developments planned for the new landmark include a major shopping centre, hotels, over 450 restaurants, cycling trails, parks, residential towers, and more. The canal is six metres deep and features bridges eight metres high, allowing yachts and marine craft up to 200 metres in length to pass through. It is estimated to attract over 30 million visitors annually.
Today, the creek comes full circle; still shaping the very soul of Dubai, now running freely through the veins of the city, keeping alive its vibrant heartbeat, linking the sea back to the sea.
"The Dubai Water Canal is not just an architectural accomplishment, but also a triumph of our heritage, history and heart."
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum