Abras (or water taxis) are one of the absolute bargains of Dubai. Forget the luxury yachts heading to Dubai Marina, hop on an Abra and enjoy the stunning Dubai Creek scenery for the grand sum of only 1 dirham. Fares doubled to 1 dh per trip on 22 January 2007 (fares were 10 fils in 1981, 25 fils in 1990, and 50 fils from 1992 until 2007 according to Emirates Today newspaper, but another source said the 50 fil fare was introduced in 1986). Abras are not the same as Dhows, which you also see on Dubai creek. An Abra is a small commuter boat intended to travel across Dubai Creek, while a Dhow is a larger ocean going cargo carrying boat. There are many dhows traveling between Dubai and Asia transporting all manner of goods between the two regions. There are also a few dhows that take tourists up and down the creek for dinner cruises - see them parked along the side of the creek on the Bur Dubai side near Al Seef Road when they're not under way.
Tourist Abras powered by motors cost 100 dhs per hour (were 50 dhs per hour until January 2007), tourist abras running on oar power cost 30 dhs per hour. Unlikely to be cheaper if you offer to paddle yourself.
Abras run on diesel but the RTA (Roads and Transport Authority) in 2006 was considering CNG or solar power as an alternative.
There are 149 Abras with 300 operators from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iran on 3 routes across Dubai Creek.
In 2005, 20 million passengers used the Abras to cross between Deira and Bur Dubai on Dubai Creek. During 2006, 60,000 people used abras every day during the week and up to 100,000 people per day on Fridays and holidays. An RTA press release 19 July 2010 said about 50,000 people per day use the abra service, and a total of 17 million passengers used public marine transport in 2009.
In 2006, it is expected that over 21 million passenger trips will be made.
By 2008, smart card system expected to be in place - integrated with buses and parking, and the Dubai Metro in 2009.
Maximum capacity is supposed to be 20 passengers per Abra.
Routes and times of operation
Deira Old Souq Station to Bur Dubai Station (0530-2330)
Route 2: Al Sabkha Station to Dubai / Deira Old Souq (Souk) Station (24 hours announced 09 October 2006)
Baniyas Station to Al Seef Station (0530-2330)
13 January 2008 update - life jackets for passengers
From February 2008, abras should have lifejackets, lifebuoys, first-aid kit, and fire extinguishers. What? they didn't have that stuff already?
There are air-conditioned water taxis also operating on Dubai Creek by the RTA. They follow the same routes as the traditional abras but cost 4 dhs per ticket.
10 October 2006 update
Route No 2 from Dubai Old Souk station to Al Sabkha Station will have 15 abras allocated for service from midnight to 0600. Approved by RTA, see in Emirates Today newspaper. But this must be the same as the Deira Old Souk to Al Sabkha which is 24 hours already?
Solar Powered Abras or Water Taxis
Pilot project launched in August 2007 with two Abras converted to solar power and compressed natural gas (CNG).
Solar-powered Abra trials conducted in conjunction with Swiss MW-LINE Company.
See also the Abras Dubai - discussion, comments, latest news