x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

The abra: an historic journey

The abra is a single-engine craft that can carry about 20 passengers, who are seated under a canopy.

People disembark from an abra at the Bur Dubai station on the Dubai Creek
People disembark from an abra at the Bur Dubai station on the Dubai Creek

The abra is a single-engine craft that can carry about 20 passengers, who are seated under a canopy. The operator, who stands at the centre of the hull, steers the vessel using a wheel that is connected to a wooden rudder by a series of ropes and pulleys. Abras were once the primary means of transportation between the two sides of the Dubai Creek before the construction of several bridges and a tunnel enabled cars to make the crossing.

It takes under 10 minutes to cross between Deira and Bur Dubai. Minor collisions are not uncommon as the abras jostle for space close to the crowded docking stations. The fee for an abra crossing has slowly risen over the last few decades. Thirty years ago, a trip would have cost between 10 and 25 fils depending on the exact starting point and destination on the other side. The standard fee now stands at Dh1, making it one of the most affordable transport systems in the world.