A year ago today I flew back to Dubai after a break of more than forty years. I’d seen many images of it’s development so the changes I encountered weren’t surprising, but I wasn’t sure I would enjoy modern Dubai so only booked a few days stay. In retrospect I wish I’d stayed longer because I enjoyed myself so much, even relishing the heat that I found soothing and relaxing after years of miserable British weather.
In contrast to today’s Dubai which is a world famous tourist destination, it was barely known in the 1970’s when I lived there. My husband was a civil engineer and first arrived in 1969. The airport was tiny with few flights, there wasn’t a port nor any roads outside the immediate town. Tracks across the desert were used by intrepid travellers who wished to go to Sharjah or Abu Dhabi. The first road between Abu Dhabi and Dubai was completed while I lived there and any trips we made to the East Coast or Al Ain were long and arduous adventures across hot desert tracks or through dry wadi beds.
Before Port Rashid was completed in 1974 boats had to moor offshore and transfer their loads onto smaller vessels that could negotiate the silty opening of Dubai creek. Although the twenty first century has transformed the creek, it was still recognisable to me and the dhow wharfage is still in use in Deira.
We stayed at the Carlton Towers Hotel overlooking the creek and despite the late hour of our arrival, as soon as we’d finished checking in, we took advantage of the beautifully warm night to stretch our legs with a walk up the creek. There are many more buildings and the creekside has been developed with a block paved promenade and lots of trees but it didn’t take any time to get my bearings and feel at home.
The dhows were moored several deep and the wharf stacked with towering piles of produce from boxed white goods to TV’s, vehicles to tyres. The fact that this valuable cargo was left virtually unattended with only a couple of watchman laid asleep on top of the goods seemed unbelievable to my companions.
Hardly any tourists visited Dubai in the 1970’s and despite the fact that most ex-pats had large houses and could accommodate guests, parents were the most frequent visitors. One of the expeditions we almost always treated them to was a trip along the creek. I was amused to see that this has developed into a bigger money spinner and was eager to try it again.
Abras were much cheaper in the past but the trips between Dubai and Deira are still great value and just as much fun. From my numerous journeys in the past I have quite a lot of photographs but nowhere near as many as we took on our hour long trip in 2016. I hope you enjoy seeing a selection of past and present views of Dubai Creek.