One of the capital’s most breathtaking locations is around the Maqta Channel, overlooking the majestic Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the three bridges that connect the Abu Dhabi island to the mainland. Residents can now fully immerse themselves in these views following the launch of a dedicated abra service that will tour the channel every evening. Image Credit: COURTESY Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority

Abu Dhabi: One of the capital’s most breathtaking locations is around the Maqta Channel, overlooking the majestic Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the three bridges that connect the Abu Dhabi island to the mainland. Residents can now fully immerse themselves in these views following the launch of a dedicated abra service that will tour the channel every evening.

The service has been launched by the hotel resorts that dot the two banks of the Maqta Channel, and will be operated by water-based tour providers Capt Tony’s.

“The launch of the new abra service at Khor Al Maqta will no doubt be incredibly popular for both residents and tourists alike. The free service is perfect for shoppers, diners or people just keen to explore both sides of the canal while enjoying a short boat ride,” said Saood Al Harthi, public relations manager at the emirate’s tourism sector regulator, the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.

The tours will start every evening at 6pm from Souq Qaryat Al Beri, and make stops at Shangri-La Hotel, the Ritz Carlton and the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr before returning to the souq. The 20-minute ride is free for all and will run until midnight daily, but priority will be given to hotel guests, said Antonio Neto, owner and managing partner at Capt Tony’s.

“We’ve been operating fibreglass boats for the last seven months, transporting guests between these properties, and there is already a lot of demand. We have at least 1,000 guests a month,” Neto told Gulf News.

Each abra can accommodate up to 20 people. If you’re not a hotel guest, you must disembark at a location other than the one at which you got on, and then wait for the boat to come around again.

Nils Axing, general manager at the Fairmont, said the idea is to get people moving between the properties and the landmarks.

“We do have shuttle buses available as well, but this is a more natural, scenic route,” he added.

Maqta Channel is a core developmental spot at present, with many projects focused around it. One of the biggest includes the construction of a nearly 150,000 square metre traditional souq, supervised by the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City. The facility will be located opposite Al Maqta Tower, and it will have links to Khalifa Park and Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque.