Dhows & Abras, working boats of Dubai


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Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai
February 17th 2012
Published: February 17th 2012
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Bur Dubai & Deira are the oldest parts of Dubai along the creek.

On the Deira side, you will find rows of working Dhows, large wooden flat vessels crossing the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. I love that they are all so colorfully painted, its like a carnival! Possibly covering up the very worn & rickety wooden structures. They have outdoor,ever practica,l wooden toilet thrones, all ready to commune with nature,& the high seas, set up on the backs of the boats...

The dhows trade between Dubai and places like Iran, Pakistan, India and Oman. Most of the boats we saw were sailing to Iran which apparently takes a day. There were even new cars loaded on to the back of these very rickety vessels, and everything from bags of rice to air conditioners. Most goods have arrived here by air from China, South Korea & Singapore, then re exported to these other countries. The Dhows are full of character and history, colorful, worn, repaired, enduring. Men are seen heaving heavy loads of goods on their backs and shoulder, loading and unloading the dhows.

It is probably one of the most interseting areas of Dubai, a melting pot of cultures & nationalties. It is a hive of activity, energy, bustling, which can be a contrast to the often slower pace of general life here...I think everything slows down with the heat.

The traditional Abras, very low, flat, small wooden boats, carry passengers along and across the creek constantly, non stop all day. It only costs 1 Dirham ( about 30cents) to travel across the creek. Everyone piles on to the Abras, seated on the edge, close to the water , a great vantage point to take in all the sights along the creek. It is a great way to see Bur Dubai Souk, then catch the Abra to the Deira Souk, Spice & Gold Souk. The Abra stations are also a hive of multicultural sightseeing!

When I first visited the docks I was nervous to photograph the sailors, but have since seen on returning how friendly and obliging they are to be photographed especially once I wave & acknowledge them or try to chat if they speak a little English. I didn't want to be too much of a tourist and intrude on their working lives, but it is such a wonderful sight to be photographing. Hence I have included lots of photos here...they tell the story, enjoy!


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19th February 2012

An exhibition to be drawn from all of these some day????

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