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Originally, the creek was only deep enough to accommodate smaller vessels, so goods had to be transferred to traditional Arab sailing dhows at the entrance to the creek, in order to export them.

Recognising the Dubai Creek's strategic importance as oil was being discovered in the Arabian Gulf, in the late 1950s, Sheikh Rashid of Dubai instigated a very expensive dredging programme in the 1960s, to deepen it, in order to handle much bigger ships.

Dubai's trade immediately increased by 20 per cent after dredging. So, today, Dubai Creek functions as a vibrant port and a vital part of the city.

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Just south of the creek entrance is Port Rashid and Dubai Maritime City, the busiest port area in the Arabian Gulf, with storage capacity for 20,000 containers and the ability to dock large holiday cruise liners. Cruising in the sunny Arabian Gulf, especially during the winter months, is becoming increasingly popular, as tourists seek an alternative to the Caribbean.

Dubai Creek is itself very popular with tourists, especially since redevelopment work has transformed parts of the Creek's banks. Visitors are fascinated by the day-to-day workings of the Creek. It is a great place to stroll in the evening.

On the Deira side, a broad well-lit promenade extends from the Corniche which faces the Arabian Gulf, all the way to the attractive purpose-built dhow terminal, known as the Dhow Wharfage, just below Al Maktoum Bridge, the main bridge across the Creek. A much-needed new bridge is currently being constructed downstream of it, linking Trade Centre Road on the Bur Dubai side, with Union Square and Al Maktoum Hospital on the Deira side. Since Trade Centre Road is in a direct line with Sheikh Zayed Road, this route across to Deira is bound to prove very popular and reduce traffic jams at the other crossings.

Upstream from Al Maktoum Bridge is Al Garhoud Bridge. Between these two existing bridges, on the Deira side, lies the prestigious Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, occupying a large area of the Creek's shores. The luxury golf course, surrounded by expensive villas, is stunning. It is open to non-members.

Opposite the Golf Club, on the Bur Dubai side, lies Creekside Park, over two kilometres in length and taking up all the land between the two existing bridges. It provides pleasant paved walks and extensive land-scaped public gardens.

Further upstream, near Al Garhoud Bridge is the Wonderland Theme and Water Park, a kids-oriented leisure centre that includes a "desert Extreme" skate park, funfair rides, karting, paintballing and Splashland, complete with water rides.

The other major crossing point of Dubai Creek, is the Al Shindagha Tunnel at the entrance to the Creek, linking Port Rashid on the south side with Corniche Deira on the north side. Deira Fish, Meat and Vegetable Market is also near the tunnel.

The traditional way of crossing the Creek is by abra, or water taxi. These seemingly rickety, but water-tight, wooden boats have been ferrying residents and traders across Dubai Creek since Dubai was first settled. Originally, they were rowing boats, but now they have diesel engines. Approximately 15,000 people cross the Creek by abra every day.

The abras are commuter vehicles for thousands of manual and low-paid workers and boarding can be chaotic at peak times as hundreds of workers jostle for space on the stone steps where the boats pull up.

It is well worth hiring your own abra for a comprehensive tour of the Creek. A journey up and down the Creek should cost no more than 50 Dirhams. Agree a price beforehand!! It is a fascinating experience, enabling you to see the ancient and modern sights of the middle of Dubai.

The many dhows that dock alongside each other at the Dhow Wharfage, bringing in spices textiles and other goods from from neighbouring countries, are more than just vessels. In many cases, the seafarers who brave the waters of the Gulf and Indian Ocean live in these colourful wooden beauties, turning each into a makeshift home.

A stroll along this end of the Creek, yields a plethora of opportunities for holiday snaps!

The Dhow Wharfage is in sharp contrast with the ultra modern 5 star hotels found on the Creek, such as the Sheraton Dubai Creek and the Radisson SAS Hotel Dubai Deira Creek.

Deira old souk, near the mouth of the creek on the north shore, provides an even greater contrast with the modern luxury hotels. It is a wonderful experience for the senses just to enter the spice souk and to inhale the scents of Arabia and the East.

Chillies, cardamon and saffron are piled high outside the spice shops. The sweet aroma of frankincense fills the air in other perfume souk shops.

After passing through the antique souk, you reach the mind-blowing, renowned gold souk, near Baladiya Street, with windows full of all manner of exotic pieces. Truly beautiful!!

Across the Creek from the spice souk, on the south side, is the Bur Dubai Souk and the textile souk. Next to them is the Grand Mosque and Dubai Museum. This is a fascinating area!!

Adjacent to these important buildings is the historic area of Bastakia Quarter, which is a picturesque heritage site. It is being carefully renovated and turned into a pedestrianised conservation area. A rarity in Dubai!

In complete contrast to the old souks and glitzy luxury hotels, the upper part of Dubai Creek is the Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, managed by the World Wildlife Fund [W.W.F] and the Emirates Wildlife Society. The marshy ground is home to thousands of flamingoes, waders and other birds, many of which migrate to Dubai seasonally. There are three hides here from which to view the birds.

A great place to get away from the vibrant city for a few hours and relax amongst wildlife!