Water buses making a big splash in Dubai – Gulf News

The ferry service launched in 2007 now serves 18 locations along Dubai creek
Dubai: The traditional mode of water transport in Dubai, the abra, has seen a makeover in the last year that is proving popular with tourists.
The vessels, which cater mainly to tourist traffic, are seeing a lot of inquiries from visitors.
"Visiting guests indeed inquire about available marine activities. The Dubai Water Taxi is a great way to not only move across the city efficiently, but also discover it from a different perspective. Dubai Water Taxi also offers a good level of comfort and ease, which from a service offering point of view, is quite appealing to visiting guests," Luc Delcomminette, vice-president of Arabian Adventures, told Gulf News.
Launched in 2007, the ferry service has grown to include 18 locations along Dubai Creek and stops at destinations of tourist interest.
These include Al Mamzar, Deira old Souq, Al Sabkha, Bani Yas, Dubai Festival City, Al Boom Tourist Village, Jumeirah Open Beach, Jumeirah Beach Park, Jebel Ali Hotel and Spa and the Atlantis Hotel. Meridian Mina Seyahi Hotel and Royal Mirage Hotel will be added in future.
Routes planned include Downtown Burj Khalifa and Dubai Marina.
Saving time
"The tourist service of the Water Bus [B5] was designed to cover key archaeological and tourist landmarks in Deira, Bur Dubai and the Creek area. So the service offers tourists, visitors and commuters a short-cut trip to visit these locations; which translates into saving time and money in mobility," said Dr Khalid Al Zahid, acting CEO of RTA Marine Agency.
According to DTCM, the aim of these products is to "add value to the tourism offerings of Dubai and strengthen its attractions to international visitors and help them extend their stay."
The DTCM and RTA have been active in promoting this mode of transport to tourists. The RTA recently signed a partnership agreement with Double Decker Bus Tours LLC. According to the agreement, the Public Transport Agency will offer tourists using the Double Decker Bus Tours LLC the opportunity to travel on the water buses as well.
"Through signing this agreement, the Public Transport Agency will work with the Double Decker Bus Tours LLC to achieve a host of objectives and strategic goals which will be to the benefit of the tourist marine transport, reflect positively on the economic and social fields, and boost the tourist industry of Dubai. This will be materialised through the Double Decker Bus Tours LLC directing its tourists arriving in Dubai to use the Water Bus in their travels within the emirate; which will enrich their tourist experience in an enjoyable and comfortable manner," said Eisa Abdul Rahman Al Dosari, CEO of RTA Public Transport Agency, in a previous statement.
In line with this partnership, Marine Agency at Roads and Transport Authority also launched a marketing campaign to promote the tourist service of the Water Bus (Line B5), which was launched last year on Dubai Creek linking Al Shindagha and Al Seef Stations. This campaign has been launched under the theme, Explore Dubai Creek in One Day.
Moving away from the traditional abra design, the new ferries are made mostly of aluminium re-creating the theme of the Dubai Metro stations and are powered by electricity. The boats are air-conditioned and equipped with reclining chairs and LCD screens.
Extension plan
On the back of its popularity, the RTA has also voiced its plans to connect the rest of the UAE through its water channels by extending the network to Sharjah and Ajman.
The Dubai Municipality has maintained the importance of preserving the traditional abras, which have dominated maritime tradition in the UAE. They are still used to transport passengers back and forth across the Creek and are also a popular choice for tourists visiting the area.
Tourists can often be seen seated with residents using the abras at Dh1 per trip.
The ticket prices of the new water buses range between Dh50 and Dh570 which some believe might be high.
"While the experience is truly memorable, the price of certain trips on the Dubai Water Taxi, however, may not be accessible to all visitors. The shortest trip being between two points in Dubai Creek Park at the price of Dh50. The longest journey is between Jebel Ali and Festival City priced at Dh570," said Delcomminette.
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