A dhow is a generic name derived from the historical sailing vessel which consisted of one or more masts with lateen sails used by fishermen, sailors and pearl divers in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea region, historians argue over the root of its inception as to whether it was invented by the Indians or the Arabs.
Today, these traditional boats have transformed lives, they have become floating restaurants decorated with colorful lights and seating arrangements that can accommodate 150 guests or some even more, and are one of the best ways to experience the Dubai waterfront. Many travel companies in UAE offer Dubai Dhow Cruise as a tour and attraction to thousands of tourists visiting the country. Alongside the 8.7 mile creek from the heart of Dubai, the fascinating rows of lights, from bow to stern, on the boats at night is one of the incredible visual attractions, these tours include sumptuous Arabic barbeque buffet dinners with a great variety of meat (chicken lamb, beef) and vegetables and various entertainment acts ranging from live music, to belly dance and tanoura dance, youla and traditional folk dance. The net result of an evening on a dhow is to feel your life change, for one night you can have moments filled with calmness, peacefulness, and refreshing relaxation.
Depending on the Dhow cruise package, the cost per person can range between Dhs120 and Dhs410 for adults, and Dhs100 to Dhs400 for children. This depends on the type of cruise opted for and whether dinner is included in the cruise or not, whether the dhow offers wifi service or not. It’s worth spending a little more, so that you don’t compromise the quality and service of the experience. Guests can arrange to get picked up and dropped back to their accommodation and these transfers are usually included in the price of the tour packages. During my recent trip to Dubai with two friends, our Dhow cruise tour was provided with courtesy of Inner Maldives Holidays.
On Wednesday June 1, 2016, at 7.30 in the evening, a four wheel drive picked us up from our Dubai hotel in Deira and dropped right next to the dock where rows of beautiful Dhows anchored, all of them were lit and lined up waiting for passengers to board before setting sail. Our driver escorted us to one of the Dhows, and we boarded ourselves on to the fully air-conditioned lower deck of it. There was nobody at all in the lower deck, we waited ten minutes and found that everyone was on the top deck, we asked one of the crew members and got permission to climb to the top deck to feel the breeze over the water and see the brightly lit shoreline of Dubai. It made the perfect combination and moment even more satisfying and soothing.
At 9pm, our Dhow picked up its anchor and started its journey, we sat comfortably in our seats at our table, enjoying the colorful views of the Dubai landscape with its various sized buildings as the dhow slowly glided down the shimmering waterways. The boat was fully equipped with all safety measures like life jackets, navigation instruments, radios, fire extinguishers, and first aid kits. There could have been at least 150 guests accommodated on both decks of our boat, a good 20 minutes passed before a traditional tanoura folk dancer stepped into the open space of the top deck as an accompaniment. We watched him make continuous circles and spectacular patterns with his long swirling lit up skirt. He danced for about 10 minutes, I managed to get closer to him to take few photos and video.
Soon after his performance was over, the dinner buffet started. We had our plates full, sat back and relished a sumptuous dinner with a wide range of continental and oriental dishes while our Dhow gently glided past the brightly lit souks and some prominent landmarks of Dubai including the National Bank of Dubai, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the bridges across the creek. After finishing the dinner, we took a lot of memorable pictures of the brightly lit shoreline of Dubai and other Dhow’s on the creek.
The Dubai Dhow cruise was one of the best experiences I had in traditional Emirati hospitality with style. If you are planning a trip to the United Arab Emirates, make sure you take a tour and a meal aboard the oldest traditional boat, now being used to view the illuminated city on the shores of the Persian Gulf. Soothe your senses with gentle sounds of the waves and gain an exceptional visual treat.
Note: Please note that transfers to the creek are shared with others who book the same tour, unless requested and paid to the booking agent as a private transfer. Dress code is recommended smart casual or the UAE national dress.