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Dubai:  UAE’s iconic waterway, Dubai Creek, which flows between Bur Dubai and Deira, has just been included as one of the 30 nominees this year for UNESCO’s famous World Heritage Sites list, it has been confirmed.

The World Heritage Committee is currently deliberating which sites should be protected and preserved because of their cultural or physical significance.

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There are at least 30 locations being considered and the list includes sites from all over the world, including the Naumburg Cathedral in Germany, the Ancient City of Qalhat in Oman, Caliphate City of Mediha Azahara in Spain, among others.

Also known as Khor Dubai, the Dubai Creek holds a significance in the history of the economic development of the emirate.

The Dubai Creek, lined with sites of historical and cultural significance on both sides, is a life line between Deira and Bur Dubai which, by the course of time, took Dubai to fame and glory. The picturesque creek is one of the 30 finalists being considered by Unesco as a World Heritage site. Gulf News

More than a hundred years ago, it was the centre of harbour-based trade, where boats, dhows and barges passed through to bring cargoes into Dubai.

An aerial view of the Dubai Creek with Deira in the foreground. The Creek is lined with sites of historical and cultural significance. Gulf News

“[The Creek] is the place where Dubai took place,” noted Jeremy Jones, senior research associate at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

Even though the city has witnessed a vast growth and undergone several phases of dredging and expansion, the creek’s shape has not changed in the last 1,000. Gulf News Archive

Shaikh Saeed House built in 1896 at Al Shindagha area, now a heritage village, by the Dubai Creek. Other historic structures that line the creek, including Al Fahidi Fort and Ahmadiya School, are regularly inspected by city engineers to ensure that there are no cracks and the buildings are properly maintained. Gulf News Archive

“One of the best anecdotes is that it was about 100 years ago that Dubai started offering tax breaks to pearl fishermen and I think this is a perfect example of how Dubai has been ahead of the game.”


Old Dubai: Tourists visit the Shindagha historic district by the Dubai Creek, which served as a port for dhows coming from as far away as India or East Africa. Al Shindagha, Bur Dubai, Deira and Al Fahidi districts showcase Dubai’s rich history and Emirati heritage. Gulf News

Recognising the importance of the creek, Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum took steps in the 1960s to deepen and widen it. This enabled larger boats to dock there and later strengthened Dubai’s commercial position.

'Heart and soul of Dubai'

The waterway is no longer the centre of harbour-based trade, but it’s still considered the “heart and soul of Dubai.” 

In recent years, a number of mega projects have been undertaken and they continue to highlight this vital waterway. Water from the creek now flows into Dubai Canal and the world's next tallest tower is currently being constructed at the Dubai Creek area.

"The Creek is the very heart and soul of Dubai – its raison d’etre,” His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, once said.

“Such has always been the case with Dubai and its Creek, which has shaped the city for over 100 years.”

The 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee is scheduled from June 24 to July 4, 2018.