Dubai's dhow cruise industry poised for more fleet additions

DUBAI — The Dubai dhow cruise industry is poised for a major leap as four more wooden dhows will be added to the existing 36 dhows that ply along the creek. The vessels, owned by new players, are presently being constructed at the Jadaff dry docks.

By Manu Sharma

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Published: Fri 29 Sep 2006, 10:12 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 1:24 PM

The new players would join the existing 20-25 operators to cash in on the tourist boom in Dubai.

Talking to Khaleej Times, Suresh Lalgee, Chairman of Rikks Cruises says, "The existing players are doing good business but have no plans for fleet expansion now. But the growth of the dhow industry has prompted new players to step in. I am not sure when they will roll out their services."

In fact, Rikks which has been operational for four years owns three traditional dhows (one- or two-masted Arab sailing vessel, common on the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean) and has converted them into floating restaurants. Its largest is MV Dolphin which is a 90-feet luxury vessel while the Pride of Dubai is a 65-feet vessel and Hazza, a smaller dhow catering to corporate functions and group parties.

The cruise industry has been active for 15 years but the company was the first to introduce the floating restaurant concept here, claims Lalgee, adding that they have catering done by Chelsea Hotel and Coral Deira on their dhows. The firm has also acquired the ISO 9001-2000 certification from Moody International Certificate Ltd.

Out of the 36 dhows, only 25 are fully operational and ply on a regular basis. Usually, these dhows are operational both during the day and nights serving lunch and dinner onboard. However, lunch rides are priced Dh 70-90 cheaper than the night rides, remarks Lalgee.

Dhows, which start from the creek, go up to the Dubai Port and Customs and then go under the Garoud Bridge on the 17 kilometre ride lasting two hours giving views of some of major landmarks from the waterway. It offers views of the splendid modern architecture like the Dubai Creek golf and yacht club and the Chamber of Commerce. Rikks has tied with Dhow Palace, JW Marriott, Hyatt and International group of hotels to promote dhow rides for the tourists. As per the industry, Creek Cruises, which has been operational for 14 years, is the present the leader in the industry followed by Lama Tours and Rikks Cruises.

Majority of the tourists on the dhow rides are British, Russians, Germans, Indians, Chinese, Japanese and South Africans. Besides a number of group incentive packages from corporates like British Airways, Sony India, Hitachi, Emirates Airlines, Bajaj Group, Airtel and ICICI Bank keep the industry occupied. "Special packages are more during the winter months," adds Lalgee.

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