Photos: Take an abra ride to travel to Dubai's beginnings as fishing village

The ride helps to feel a connection to the past, bringing back memories of how things used to be in the past


SM Ayaz Zakir


Neeraj Murali

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Photos: Neeraj Murali
Photos: Neeraj Murali

Published: Sat 25 Nov 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 27 Nov 2023, 10:34 AM

Dubai Culture has introduced an abra ride where residents and tourists can go on a fascinating journey through the history of Dubai that dates back to its humble beginnings as a fishing village.

Visitors can understand how Dubai transformed from a pearling town to a global metropolis. The ferry ride begins at the pier of Al Shindagha Museum where guides explain the early days of Dubai. The ride helps to feel a connection to the past, bringing back memories of how things used to be.

During the experience visitors cruise along the famous Dubai Creek for about an hour. The ride offers a unique perspective, allowing guests to absorb the ambiance and witness the city's development from different points from the creek.

Abra is an old-fashioned wooden boat that has always been important in Dubai's history as the residents crossed the creek by this traditional boat

A ride of Knowledge

As the boat glides through the creek, the tour guide will explain about the architecture and trade on Bur Dubai’s side and the ancient town of Shindagha, and Fahidi, where the Al Maktoum family resided.

Moving further, people will learn about Al Seef’s redevelopment into ancient and modern architecture. Visitors will also get to learn about the mosques and their prominence from the olden days.

Connecting Dubai by roads

The abra will cross beneath Al Maktoum Bridge, where visitors will learn about its construction. The boat will then take a U-turn to return from the Floating Bridge where the guide will explain this unique infrastructure of Dubai.

The rich Deira

While on return, the guide will explain the cultural and the business-rich Deira side. Most of the government buildings in the early days were constructed on the Deira Creek side including Dubai Municipality, banks, and many more.

One of the most prominent buildings on Deira Creek is the Sheraton Hotel, which is the first five-star hotel in Dubai. There are many other hotels that this side of the creek became the home to.

The Old Souk

While on return, one can notice the fragrance of the spices emanating from the Old Souk and understand about the public library.

A visit to Al Shindagha Cultural District

After disembarking the boat, people can visit Al Shindagha Museum, which has curated an immersive cultural tour. The experience takes participants on a journey from the early days in 21 meticulously decorated houses, each resonating with the ancient charm of mud bricks and coral rocks.

Within Al Shindagha district, one of the highlights is Al Maktoum Residence, providing a glimpse into the lives of the Royals during those early days.

In this cultural district, visitors not only gain insights into Dubai's remarkable evolution but also have the opportunity to appreciate the preservation of traditions and cultural heritage.


Visitors over 17 years old can get the ticket for Dh110, and children from 4 to 16 years old can get it for Dh95. Kids below three years old can experience it for free.

Tickets can be purchased online on the Visit Dubai page, starting from December 1.


The abra experience starts at 3:45pm until 5:15pm while museum timings are from 10:00am to 8:00pm.


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