Tour Locations | Tales of the Past: Tracing Dubai’s origins in Deira
LOCATION 1 | Tales of the Past: Tracing Dubai’s origins in Deira
Welcome at Bur Dubai Abra Station
Marhaba, and welcome to historic Dubai! Today, we’re going on a journey through time, to the beginning of our city’s incredible story. You’ll be heading off across the city’s most important waterway to explore our historic marketplaces and discover Dubai’s trading past.
We’ll begin our tour at the Bur Dubai Abra Station. Take a look ahead at the calm waters before you - this is the Dubai Creek, which plays a key role in Dubai’s history. I’ll tell you more about this as we go on. But first, observe the bustling hive of activity across the water. This is Deira, the heart of Dubai and where we’re headed today.
Before we begin, here are a few things to note.
For the next 45 minutes, I’ll guide you around some of the most historic spots of Deira, where Dubai first evolved into a small settlement reliant on the sea.
This is an easy, mostly flat walk, so if you’re in comfortable shoes and have a bottle of water, you’re set. Also keep a single dirham coin handy - you’ll need it shortly.
While you’re here, I'll briefly explain how VoiceMap works.
It uses your location to play audio automatically, at the right time and place. This means that you can put your phone away now. Don't worry if I remain silent in between giving directions or sharing stories. There's a map on your screen if you ever feel lost, and if you do veer off track, VoiceMap will let you know.
Right, let’s begin! Do you see a number of traditional boats at the station? These are known as abras and they’re still the main source of transport across the water today. In fact, the word ‘abra’ means ‘crossing’ in Arabic. And because this wooden boat was once the only way of getting from one side of Dubai to the other, it became known as THE abra.
The crossing from one side of the creek to the other costs just one dirham, and it’s become a popular experience for tourists and residents alike. You'll spot visitors, locals and workers intermingling closely here on any given day, and it's a great way to see Dubai from a different perspective. Waterfront buildings, old souks, cargo ships, and the hustle and bustle of the city - it can all be seen from an abra as it charts the calm waters.
If an abra driver hasn’t pulled up already, one will soon. He’ll leave once his boat is full, which doesn’t take long at all. So, head on down the jetty, take a seat, and have your dirham handy. Your abra driver will collect it just before departing.
You'll hear from me again once you’re sailing across to historic Deira.