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Explore Dubai on water

Away from the fast and busy lanes of Shaikh Zayed and Emirates roads, tourists and residents alike take to the waterways to go sightseeing and, of course, to commute too

  • Lo behold: (From left) Rowena, Jessica and BrankoImage Credit: XPRESS/Zarina Fernandes
  • A ride to remember: Passengers getting off a water ferry at the Dubai Marina water stationImage Credit: XPRESS/Zarina Fernandes
  • View from the water: Tourists and residents enjoy a water ferry ride on Dubai CreekImage Credit: XPRESS/Zarina Fernandes
  • Two good: Jacqui Day and Hilary JamesImage Credit: XPRESS/Zarina Fernandes
  • Sail in style: The interior of a water taxiImage Credit: XPRESS/Zarina Fernandes
  • Marine travel: The RTA water taxiImage Credit: XPRESS/Zarina Fernandes
  • Creek tour: The RTA water busImage Credit: XPRESS/Zarina Fernandes
  • Budget friendly: The water bus is the most economical mode of commuting within DubaiImage Credit: XPRESS/Zarina Fernandes

DUBAI Welcoming visitors to Dubai? Wondering what’s left to show them of the city? Hop onto any of the four water rides – whether the ferry, water taxi, water bus or the abra – drink in the beauty of the city from a whole new vantage point.

As XPRESS rides Dubai’s deep waters to give you a fresh perspective of the city, we find we are not alone. A number of tourists are also on board, soaking up the city’s splendour away from the busy roadways.

Water ferry

Our first ride is on a ferry which we board at the Dubai Marina water station, close to the Marina Yacht Club. A one-hour trip from the Marina station takes tourists around Palm Jumeirah.

We run into Australian Jessica Spanjic who is with her sisters Rowena Portwina and Tammy Kyle, who are visiting her from Perth. But it’s Jessica’s two-year-old son Branko who clearly is the one most enjoying the ride.

“My sister saw a brochure of the water ferry and we decided to take it. The ferry is a great break from exploring Dubai by road. It’s a luxurious ride, worth every money you pay,” says Spanjic.

South African mother-daughter duo Hilary James and Jacqui Day are also on board. “I always do a water ride when I have visitors coming. It’s a peaceful and scenic way to absorb the breathtaking views of Dubai,” said Day.

It’s no surprise there has been a jump in the number of people using marine transport.

“This year, in the first quarter, we recorded a 25 per cent increase in marine commuters compared to last year. This is an indication of the growing interest among people, especially tourists who are taking more and more water rides,” said Baha Al Qedrah, Marine Department director at the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

RTA has four water ferries making seven trips a day. The first trip starts at 9am from the Al Ghubaiba area and from Dubai Marina. Other trips start at 11am, 3.30pm, 5pm and 7pm. On Friday, two additional trips are added at 2pm and 6pm.

Each ferry can seat 100 people and the ride lasts an hour. The cost for a trip is Dh50 per head (Silver ticket) and Dh75 per person (Gold). The ferry from Ghubaiba station goes along the Creek up to the Burj Khalifa.

The RTA has announced that it will soon start a ferry service from Dubai Marina to the Ghubaiba area every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 10.30am, with a return trip at 4pm.

Water taxi

The water taxi is a more private ride and accommodates up to 10 people. There are five water taxis doing rounds to 26 stations, covering areas like Al Mamzar, Atlantis The Palm, Mina Seyahi, and Al Boom Tourist Village.

As we pass under the Business Bay Bridge, I am struck by the sight of a man fishing here.

“Recently I had my parents and sisters visit me. We hired a water taxi for two hours on a Friday evening and it felt like checking into your very own private luxurious room – only this one was sailing. Dubai is gorgeous, but to see it away from the buzz of people and its traffic chaos is an altogether different thing,” says Latha Narayanan, a Dubai resident.

The excursion costs Dh350 an hour and there is no per person pricing. Whether for a group of 10 people or four, you have to book the taxi for the same fare.

Water bus

The water bus is the most economical mode of commuting within the city. For just Dh2 one can do a trip along the Creek or simply get to the other side.

“I work in Bank Street. Today, I have some work in the Gold Souq area and hence am taking the water bus. I avoid the road because firstly it is a long drive from my office to the souq, then there is the endless traffic and parking issue there,” said K. Mohandas, a regular user of the water bus.

Another commuter, Mehek Punjabi, who works in a textile company in Meena Bazaar, was taking a ride to the etisalat building in Deira.

“It’s on the other side of the Creek and since I don’t drive, what better way than take the water bus,” says Punjabi, also a regular water bus user.

There are nine water buses making 87 trips daily at 12-minute intervals from Al Seef station near Dubai Creek to Ghubaiba station near the Ministry of Finance, making stops at Baniyas, Sabkha 1, Sabkha 2 and Dubai Old Souq. A one-way trip from Al Seef station to Ghubaiba costs Dh2 and a return trip is another Dh2. Commuters can use their Nol cards to purchase bus tickets.

Did you know?

For just Dh25 per person, you can take a Water Bus ride from Festival City to Ras Al Khor Birds Sanctuary.

Box –1

Marine Transport Evolution

2005 – Water bus

2010 – Water ferry

2011 – Water taxi

Box – 2

Cost snapshot

Water Ferry

Dh75 per person for a gold ticket (1 hour)

Dh50 per person for a silver ticket (1 hour)

Payment can be made through cash or credit card.

Water Taxi

Dh350 an hour for 10 people. Commuters can also pay according to the Water Taxi tariff card.

Payment can be made through cash or credit card.

Water Bus

Dh2 per person from Al Seef Station to Al Ghubaiba station

People can purchase tickets by cash or through Nol cards


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