A Fun Family Experience Not To Be Missed When Visiting Dubai

conversationswithmysister.com.au_Dubai Creek
Posted by on March 11, 2017

“A ship in the harbour is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.”

John Shedd


Friday, the first day of the weekend here in the UAE and the perfect opportunity to explore Dubai Creek and the area affectionately known as Old Dubai. Spending our downtime on the water, while experiencing a new-to-us pocket of this intriguing city, might be just what the Dr ordered.

It is hard to pinpoint whether it was the comfortable rays of the sun warming our backs, or the gentle rocking of the boat which was sending us into a blissfully calm and meditative state. Seagulls were pleasantly singing overhead and we could just make out the haunting call to prayer, drifting out from nearby minarets.

The glitz and glamour often associated with Dubai felt worlds away and the only ‚Äėtraffic‚Äô congestion was the hustle between the larger boats and the wooden Abra‚Äôs, as they all skilfully navigated their position through the activity on the creek.conversationswithmysister.com.au_Dubai Creek_Deira

Quick History of Dubai Creek

  • ¬†The first inhabitants, members of the Bani Yas Tribe, took up residency along the Dubai Creek in the 19th century.
  • As well as the obvious industry of fishing, the Dubai Creek was also the main harvesting area for the Pearl Industry, until the introduction of cultured pearls in the 1930‚Äôs.
  • In the early 20th century Dubai Creek was established as the only Port or Harbour in the city and, thanks to the first dredging carried out in 1961, larger Dhows were able to enter the creek connecting trading between the coast of Eastern Arabia, India and East Africa.
  • Al Maktoum Bridge was built¬†in 1963 and was the first bridge constructed to connect Deira and Bur Dubai

Related Post: Desert, Souks and an Oasis – Family Road Trip To Al Ain

The Pearl Divers might have long moved onto alternate waters but trading and industry is certainly still alive and thriving on Dubai Creek. Wooden Dhows are moored at the creek bank and their rustic appearance creates an eye catching contrast to the shiny modern buildings rising up from the city behind. This is indeed a working Port and, if your timing is right, you might even see the large quantities of merchandise being loaded and unloaded from the boats decks.

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Departure begins once the Dhow’s are fully loaded with their cargo. Watching these beauties pull away from their mooring is definitely a moment which understandably attracts a lot of attention from those standing near by.¬†Deck hands perch themselves at the bow¬†and you get the sense they are keen to be setting off on their journey. Slowly, but surely they leave¬†the controlled confines of the creek, their exit exuding an exciting sense of intrigue and adventure.

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Related Post: My Madinat Jumeirah РAn Eco Experience In Downtown Dubai 

Arabic Dhows also share the water with another thriving Industry – Tourism. Water Taxis and Abras have taken up residency on these waters, giving visitors the opportunity to be submersed in and experience the bustling vibe of the area.¬†There is no shortage of ‚ÄėTour Guides‚Äô passionately manning the surrounding footpaths and, for 150 Dirhams, you can enjoy a ‚Äėprivate‚Äô hour long tour of the creek.

We agreed to the Water Taxi without any prior planning and, although it was a comfortable and pleasant ride, my true fascination is with the Abra’s.

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Abas are available for private hire for around the same price as the Water Taxi’s and are also the designated mode of transport for taking passengers backwards and forwards from Bur Dubai to the Deira side of the bank. The 10 minute transfer will cost you only 1 Dirham which you pay directly to the driver – you will find him standing at the controls, right in the middle of the boat.

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An Abra seats around 20 passengers, all sitting facing outwards and protected from the elements by a simple canvas roof. Riding an Abra just on sunset, or even wandering along the creek banks during this spectacular time of the day, is definitely an experience not to be missed and a perfect moment to practise #tojustbe.

The Abras aren’t the only highlight of the visit. It is also the ancient style of architecture and the promise of exploring unassuming laneways, which has drawn us to visit the historic area known as Old Dubai. Lining these laneways and dominating the Town Squares (on both sides of the creek), is the vibrant atmosphere of the colourful and quirky Souks (marketplace). Do yourself a favour and allow plenty of time to wander aimlessly and soak up the eclectic culture of this unique Middle Eastern tradition.

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While souvenir items tend to dominate the majority of the stores, if you are patient and dig a little deeper, you are bound to find some real gems. The colourful spices at the Spice Souk will always attract my attention and a visit to an Arabic Marketplace is never complete without sampling some local dates.

Keep your eye out¬†for the world’s heaviest gold ring, as listed in the Guinness World Records, which is proudly displayed in the Gold Souk. A must see attraction which is impossible to clearly photograph, as it¬†sits¬†behind glass, in the front window of the store.

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Just for the record…those of you who saw me on the day, the random¬†smile spread across my face as I wandered past each display of shoes and rack of pashminas, was due to me feeling like I was¬†‚Äėon set‚Äô in one of my all time favourite¬†movies – can you guess which one!

Once you have exhausted the Souks you might enjoy a short walk to the local Fish and Fruit & Vegetable Markets located on the Deira side of the creek. If your visit coincides with the weekend and you are relying on a car or taxi as your mode of transport, prepare yourself for the possibility of frustrating delays due to traffic congestion.

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Although the Fish Markets will never be¬†my first choice to visit, as the Mother of a passionate young fisherman, it is usually¬†unavoidable. Our Little Man‚Äôs debating skills are quite sharp and he tactfully emphasised the small point which involves him patiently following me around the souks…

A word of warning – do not wear your best shoes!

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Although the energy of the area starts out as infectious, there comes a time when you might crave a quiet spot of down time and the ‘Creekside Restaurant &¬†Cafe’ can offer just that. With tables positioned ‚Äėcreekside‚Äô and a good selection of freshly prepared food, juices and smoothies on the menu, all that is left to do is chill out and enjoy the view. The most perfect way to finish your day.

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Related Post: Keen to continue exploring the creek? Pop over to Our Big Dubai Adventure where Tani will show you around the Dubai Creek Harbour Promenade and a Family event called Rise DCH (time sensitive).

As you know our family has made a lifestyle commitment to embrace Less Stuff and enjoy More Experiences. A weekend exploring Dubai Creek has certainly provided us with this opportunity.

Gently exposing our Children to contrasting ways of life is important to us as Parents, as we strive to create a balance with their other more privileged adventures. A healthy dose of Keeping It Real in the anticipation of nurturing respectful, grounded and grateful adults.

Although our Children have become accustomed to hearing the haunting echo of the daily call to prayer, they are still adjusting to the dynamics of being in a busy multicultural crowd, as well as the colourful culture of market banter.

Over the course of the weekend we also found ourselves surrounded by¬†a healthy mix of people from¬†different socio-economic backgrounds which provoked unexpected, yet interesting, Family¬†conversations…¬†

How many other Expat Families can relate to similar situations?

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Looking forward to hearing from you,

X Shea

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9 Responses to A Fun Family Experience Not To Be Missed When Visiting Dubai

  1. One geek of a parent

    Having lived here over a decade, I’ve been to all of these places. But it’s so refreshing to hear it from someone else. Especially in awe of your pictures: they surely speak a 1000 words!

    • Shea

      OH Priyanka, thank you so much. Such an extremely ‘photogenic’ place to visit. Got a bit carried away clicking away…ūüėā

  2. GeordieArmani

    A day on the Creek is one of the best days out in Dubai ever, thanks for sharing!

    • Shea

      Sooooo good to get lost in and experience such a contrasting culture to our everyday Debbie. Loved putting the story together, thank you for stopping by! X

  3. Zeyna S. Mummy On My Mind

    You’re pictures are gorgeous, and I love the Creek side too! It’s like stepping into another time zone, isn’t it?!

    • Shea

      It really is Zeyna! I have had Dubai Creek on our ‘must see’ list for so long, so thrilled we finally got to check it out. Might need a second visit one day…

  4. Amruta (Sustainability Tribe)

    So glad you wrote this! It’s been years we are taking our guests to this part to show real Dubai, but never thought of writing about it ;). My most favorite part of Dubai!

    • Shea

      We absolutely loved Old Dubai too Amruta, especially the novelty of riding on the Abra’s!

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