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An abra
Old and New water transportation in Dubai, from Road Transport Authority (RTA).
A man waiting for passengers

Abra ( ) is a traditional boat made of wood, used to transport people across Dubai Creekmarker in Dubaimarker, United Arab Emiratesmarker. A medium-sized single-engine craft with a capacity of about 20 passengers, it is driven by a single operator from a sort of cockpit stepped in the center of the hull. The short platform around the cockpit, sheltered by a canopy, is where the passengers are seated, all facing outwards 10 on each side. The speed of the engine may be varied, while the steering system is basic: often a wooden rudder connected to the cockpit's mechanism by means of ropes and pulleys.

Abras used to be the primary means of transportation between the two sides of the creek before car could cross it via the several bridges or the Al Shindagha Tunnelmarker. It is now mostly used by tourist, common folk and nostalgic. Yet it remains an essential and frequently-used part of Dubai transportation, ferrying 15 to 20 million passengers annually, and only growing in popularity. It takes under 10 minutes to cross between Deiramarker and the other side of the creek, Bur Dubaimarker. Minor collisions are to be expected as the abras jostle for space, so all passengers must be seated, especially near the crowded docking stations.

The abra service of today is regulated by the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority. The old boarding piers have been replaced with six official boarding stations and fitted with spacing gates for crowd control; these facilities were built and are maintained by the Dubai Municipalitymarker. There are about 149 Abras in service at present. All abras operate from about 5:30 a.m. till about midnight, while 10 abras run one of the three routes at all hours. The abras charge a nominal rate (2007) of 1 dirham per direct crossing per head, or 100 dirhams per hour for exclusive hire. "Rowing" abras are also available at 1 dirham per head or 30 dirhams per hour.

The fees and capacity are also regulated by the public transport authority, and the abra operators are issued permits by the RTA to grant them the license to operate within the law. The authorities are currently considering an increase in the traditionally accepted fare, and a switch to eco-friendlier CNG fuel or even solar energy.

Abras are a part of the traditional creekscape of Dubai, and are considered a part of the city's heritage. In January, as a part of the Dubai Shopping Festival, an abra race is run on the creek with a 6,000-dirham first prize.

Abras cross the creek round the clock (including between midnight and 5 a.m.) and a trip on an abra is a must for every visitor to Dubai.

See also

Abra is a traditional boat made from wood used to transfer people in the Dubai creek. It takes 10 minutes to go from Deira to the other side (Bur Dubai).

Abras used to be the main way of transport between the two sides before cars could cross the creek on two bridges or the Shindaga tunnel. Now it is mostly used by tourists or workers with low income although it remains an essential and frequently used part of Dubai transportation. The Abras charge a nominal rate of AED 1 per trip.


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