As temperatures in Dubai climb way past comfort levels, residents and visitors alike crouch in air-conditioned hotels, malls and offices. But sometimes you crave a breeze that doesn’t come out of a box, which is when a jaunt down or across Dubai’s main waterway, Dubai Creek, starts to look enticing.
Unlike Dubai’s palm tree-shaped islands and irrigated parklands, its Creek is much as nature intended (with the occasional touch-ups to make it more shipping-friendly). But whereas the word “creek” suggests something narrow and bucolic, Dubai Creek is actually a busy expanse lined with skyscrapers, winding for 14 kilometers (nearly nine miles) from the wetlands of the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary to the Gulf. Once a center of fishing and pearl-diving, the Creek is now an important artery for trade and transport.
One of the most comfortable ways to see the Creek is a cruise on a rather posh version of a traditional Arab dhow boat at dinner time, as the sting of daytime heat abates and the skyline twinkles. However if you want to see the water from a local perspective, catch an abra, a simple wooden boat which seats 20. Before bridges joined the two parts of the city (Bur Dubai and Deira), this was the only way to get across the Creek. There’s no timetable; boats simply wait until they have enough passengers and then embark on the 10-minute journey, which is just about the cheapest thing you can do in Dubai. If you want to splash out more you can hire a boat for exclusive use and determine your own route.