Commercial vessels have been docking at the Dubai Creek for more than a century, but it was in the 1960s that the wharfage came to life after the then ruler Shaikh Rashid Bin Saaed Al Maktoum ordered dredging of the creek. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: Traditional dhows that called Dubai Creek their home for years will have to shift their base as the new wharfage begins operations.

A three-kilometre-long wharfage that will allow more than 450 dhows to berth at a time has been developed, in an area which was earlier called Deira Corniche, opposite Hyatt Regency Hotel, stretching all the way to Deira Island (the former Palm Deira).

A portion of the wharfage has already opened for traffic, with at least half a dozen dhows docked opposite Hyatt Regency.

Better, larger facility

“We moved here a week ago when we got to know that the authorities have opened a portion of the new wharf. It’s really nice with a larger cargo bay, wider area for loading and unloading, more berths, washrooms and all the other facilities,” said Sameer, an Indian sailor, who sails into Dubai regularly.

Dhow Wharfage Development Project will create an additional integrated infrastructure that will facilitate increase in dhow trade through Dubai.

With 30 loading/unloading areas and providing a space of 90,000 square metres, which is more than double the loading/unloading area currently at Dubai Creek, around 1.7 million tonnes of cargo will be handled every year.

The wharfage has been designed with a depth of seven metres below the low water level compared to the existing level of five metres at the Creek, which will enable the wharfage to receive and anchor bigger dhows that could not enter the Creek earlier.

Also, a lighting network will be provided for the entire wharfage area to facilitate cargo handling work during the evening, said officials.

According to Saleem, another regular sailor, who has been sailing to Dubai on traditional dhows for the past 20 years, all the dhows from the Deira Creek will be moved to the new wharf.

“Authorities have given us a deadline until early next year to move the operations to the new facility. We are looking forward to working from the there. I have been coming here for 20 years and I will miss this place. But the new place is not too far. In fact it is closer to the fish market from where we can buy the foodstuff,” said Saleem.

Currently, dhow operators pay a daily docking fee of between Dh100 to Dh200 per day depending on the capacity of the vessel.

To begin with, docking at the new wharfage is free, but charges will be applicable once all the berths are fully operational.

“We are not paying anything for now, but we have heard that they will start charging once the jetty is fully operational,” said Amit, another sailor.

A Somali cargo operator said: “I m looking forward to working from the new facility. It looks good. The current facilities at the Creek are quite cramped. Hopefully we will have more space at the new wharf.”

Commercial vessels have been calling on Deira Creek for more than a century, when Dubai emerged as a trading post, but it was in the 1960s that the Creek wharfage came to life after the then Dubai Ruler Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum ordered dredging of the Creek that allowed bigger dhows to dock there.

The Creek wharfage was then redeveloped in 1993 with proper berths and jetties.

Hundreds of dhows enter Deira Creek every year, facilitating trade between Dubai and Iran, Somalia, Yemen, India and other countries in the region.

According to sources, the Creek will be redevloped as a tourist hub once the dhows move to the new wharfage.

—With inputs from Faisal Masudi