Abra floating along the Dubai Creek are as traditional a symbol of Dubai as the modern skyscrapers and 5 star hotels. Nowhere near as large and glossy but humble in their way and ultra-practical for a city surrounded by water. Here’s what you need to know about Dubai abra as a tourist:
What is a Dubai Abra?
Abra comes from the Arabic verb “Abara” which means crossing. At it’s simplest, an abra is a small water craft that takes passengers across water.
In Dubai, abra are still used to this day and are one of the city’s most frequented modes of transport for crossing the Dubai Creek. Although there are many more modern craft now available and integrated as part of the Dubai public transport system, you can still catch a traditional wooden abra across the Dubai creek as many have done for decades in the past.
Is abra the same thing as a dhow?
No. Although both are water craft, there is a difference in the size, design and purpose of an abra and a dhow. Abra are designed for people crossing water, with a simple wooden bench to sit on. A traditional dhow – although coming in many shapes and sizes – is a larger boat designed to carry goods. Dhow do also operate in Dubai as tourist cruise vessels – more on them below!
Different types of abra that operate in Dubai
Today, there are four different types of Abra you will find operating in different parts of the city.:
Motorised Traditional Abra
Half-boat, half-raft, the traditional abra with a small motor and two wooden benches operates two routes that cross from one bank of Dubai Creek to the other:
- Route CR1: Bur Dubai Abra Station to Deira Old Souk Abra Station (5am to midnight) – 5 minutes
- Route CR2: Dubai Old Souq Station to Al Sabkha Abra Station (24-hours) – 7 minutes
Cost for a traditional abra
A single Dubai Creek crossing is only 1 AED per person, payable to your driver.
Nol Card on Dubai Abra
You will not need a Nol Card for Dubai abra, have some loose coins this is all you need to enjoy. (NB, you will need a Nol Card though if you’re connecting by bus or Metro).
Petrol Heritage Abra
Alternatively, there’s another class of Abra operating several routes across the creek in what’s described as Petrol Heritage Abra. They still cost only 2AED and offer an open-air experiences for up to 20 passengers, slightly larger and more comfortable than the traditional abra.
You can catch Petrol Heritage Abra from the same abra stations listed above, and additionally, there are stops at Al Fahidi and Al Seef on the western bank of the creek, and Baniyas on the eastern side. (Routes CR3, CR5 & CR6).
You are paying your abra driver separately in cash each time, so you can easily mix and match your routes each time you want to cross the creek.
Petrol Heritage Canal – Dubai Water Canal
This is a separate, man-made waterway that runs from Downtown Dubai to the Gulf. A modern, petrol operated abra passes beneath the Dubai Canal Waterfall before making a circular loop of the creek:
- Alight the TR6 route at Sheikh Zayed Road Station
- The trip takes around 45 minutes
- Cost is 25AED per person (Children under 3 are free)
- Operating from 4:00 PM to 11.30 PM daily
- You can also privately charter for your group from 300 AED per hour.
Air Conditioned Abra
For a more luxurious air-conditioned abra experience, you can travel between Al Jaddaf Marine Station to Dubai Festival City (Route BM2) for just 2AED one way.
Where can I ride an abra in Dubai?
There are several different points you can catch an authorized RTA abra from in Dubai, depending on what part of the city you would like to see, and how much you would like to pay
- The traditional motorised abra only operate across Dubai Creek – 1 AED
- Petrol abra run on Dubai Canal – 25AED
- Dubai Water Buses in Dubai Marina are being replaced with modern air-conditioned abra. You can learn more about Dubai Marina water bus services here.
As tourists delight in this modern take on traditional transportation, there are several other places in the city you can also catch an abra. These electric and eco-friendly abra cost more but can be found in prime tourist locations across the city and still deliver a quite authentic experience.
Abra rides at the Dubai Fountain
A traditional-looking abra with a modern twist, these abra are fitted with a much quieter electric motor. You can find these operating on the Burj Lake beneath the Burj Khalifa to watch the nightly Dubai Fountain show. For a front row seat you should expect to pay around 70AED per person for 25 minutes, starting from 5:45 PM nightly – check current pricing and advance book tickets here.
You can learn more about different water craft that can be hired on Burj Lake here.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Offering possibly one of the prettiest backdrops in the city, there are electric abra that operate on the serene water ways of Souk Madinat Jumeirah., and provide a backdrop of Burj Al Arab.
The Souk Abra Station is located near the Trattoria Toscana restaurant. The Abra tour timings are:
- Winter: 10:00 am to 11:00 pm daily and Summer: 11:00 am to 11:00 pm daily
- Each tour departs every 20 minutes and lasts for 20 minutes.
The Abra Tour ticket prices (book at the venue):
- Full Abra Tour: AED 100 per adult and AED 50 per child
- Burj View Abra Tour: AED 50 per adult and AED 50 per child
- Private Abra Tour: AED 850
You can learn more about the Souk Madinat abra rides here.
Global Village Abra
The final option to consider during the winter months only is an electric abra ride through Global Village. This seasonal extravaganza runs broadly from late October to early April each year. The eco-friendly abra take passengers through the man-made canal within the Global Village grounds with the journey lasting 12-15 minutes. The price for this abra ride is 52.50 AED.
You can learn more about visiting Global Village here.
Other water transport options in Dubai
There are both public and private water transport options for seeing the city in new and interesting ways, and often at a fraction of the cost of catching a taxi with better views! Why not also check out:
You’ll find our complete guide to Dubai Public Transport and how all the different systems integrate over here.
Dubai City Cruises
If the abra or ferry routes don’t suit, or you are seeking more of a dining and leisure experience along with your sightseeing then check out the great selection of boat cruises available from different boarding points across the city.
City sightseeing and cruises on Dubai Creek:
City sightseeing and cruises from Dubai Marina
More extreme water tours in Dubai
Is it worth catching a Dubai abra?
Every tourist to Dubai should try the traditional Dubai abra at least once – even in the peak of summer! It’s a true taste of what traditional Dubai is about, incredibly affordable and a fabulous, authentic experience.
Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai
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