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Moscow, Moskva, Russia
June 5, 2010
From journal Tale of the Middle East
November 6, 2005
Even today, there is still a lot of smuggling that goes on, mostly cigarettes and consumer electronics headed for Iran, which still imposes fairly hefty duties on such goods. Some say there are weapons that come in and out this way, too, though proof of that is hard to come by, of course. In any event, the men who man these small teak vessels have many a story to relate, no doubt.
But there is much more to attract the visitor than the sight of all these boats. Hotels, restaurants, and cafes line the Corniche, especially on the Deira Dubai side of the waterway. The museums are here, the tourist boats are here, and so are the funny little water taxis, known locally as abras. For a princely 50 fils (or half a dirham) you can cross from Deira to Bur Dubai on vessels that look pretty flimsy, but which rarely have accidents. There are no railings, just a gunwale a few inches high; there aren’t even any cushions. However, this is the cheapest and most pleasant way of crossing the Creek. Indeed, you can, if you like, engage one of the vessels to take you on your own little cruise up and down the Creek for just a few dollars, certainly the cheapest way to enjoy one of the world’s more exotic port cities at night. And night, indeed, is the time to come, especially if you’re there between March and mid-October when the temperature and humidity levels can be truly brutal. The lights and the stars reflecting off the Creek are a sight to behold. Don’t miss stopping for at least a coffee and maybe a shisha (water pipe) along the way. My favorite spot, on the Bur Dubai bank of the Creek, more or less opposite Etisalat’s (Dubai’s telcom company) ultra-modern offices is Fatafeet, Arabic for “crumbs”, where you’ll get some of the best humous and kebabs in town at a price anyone can afford.
From journal Dubai: Hong Kong Wannabe
Quezon City, Philippines
April 26, 2004
When I was a kid, this place was just muddy tracks of water with nothing to see. But it has transformed from sand and water to a bustling metropolis full of energy and activities. On a typical day, you can find dhows with their waiting piles of cargo and the abras, which carry commuter traffic from Deira to Bur Dubai and back. An abra is a water taxi that you should not fail to try. It is just a wooden vessel with seats and nothing else. Long ago, it was the only means of crossing the creek.
If you get too hungry just strolling along and admiring the view, there are a lot of food stands where you can purchase one of the yummiest Arab delicacies there is: the shawarma.
If you really want to relax and watch the city go by, the creek is the best place to stroll along. Anything goes.
From journal Beauty in the Desert