Header image: MrT HK (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
Dubai is an excellent example of an impressive story of transformation.
Having started as a barren, deserted land with zero means of endurance, it has grown into an exciting megacity with some of the world’s finest beaches, glittering skyscrapers, and a beautiful skyline.
While you won’t find oases or natural water bodies in Dubai, there is an artificial canal district known as Dubai Marina. This is a modern part of town where luxury yachts sit next to authentic wooden dhow boats.
Combining the traditional Arabic heritage with sumptuous buffet dinners, a dhow cruise of the Dubai marina offers an exciting way of experiencing and enjoying Dubai.
Things to do in Dubai: Taking a Dhow Cruise in Dubai Marina
What is a Dhow?
A Dhow is a traditional wooden boat that dates back to 600 BC that was historically used throughout the Middle East for trading.
They typically sport long thin hulls, and were used to carry heavy items between Arab states (like fresh water fruit) and countries like Pakistan, India and Yemen. They were also used for pearl diving, but in recent decades have been replaced by more modern vessels.
Having played such a crucial role in the history and evolution of the gulf, these iconic boats have been repurposed for tourism, and while no longer used for trade, visitors can board historic boats for a dinner cruise across Dubai Marina.
Image: Rob Oo (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
Why Should You Visit Dubai Marina?
Taking a dhow dinner cruise is one of the highlights of Dubai Marina. In the 90’s many of the larger vessels were refurbished and converted into floating restaurants, and this is what kick started the tourism craze of dinner cruising.
An artificial canal city, the Marina is built along a two-mile (3 km) stretch of Persian Gulf shoreline. It is a hub of modern culture, with restaurants, hotels, luxury shopping, and craft markets that line a waterside promenade walk.
Upscale yachts cruise through, and on top of taking an authentic dhow dinner cruise, you can choose from activities that range from jet-skiing to skydiving, or visiting golf courses or waterparks.
And while the canals are man-made, there have been many instances of marine wildlife (especially whales and sharks) entering the marina, because of its proximity to the open sea.
While there are over 30 dhow boats within Dubai Creek (the old part of town), Dubai Marina offers a much more intimate experience, with only 8 dhow boats that float through the marina.
Photo credit: Steven Straiton (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
The Dinner Cruise Experience
The dhow cruise experience from Dubai Marina includes your dinner and evening entertainment. Each company has different offerings, so it’s important to choose a package based on what type of experience you want.
Originally, belly dancing was a common form of cruise entertainment, though the Dubai Government has been slowly been replacing this with ‘Tanura’ – a traditionally Turksih dance that is usually performed by a male dancer that is spinning in a flowing and elaborately decorated dress, creating a very interesting sight.
Typically upon boarding you will be presented with services such as chilled juices or soft drinks, a mouthwatering buffet, soft music and other types of entertainment.
Dinner is typically Middle Eastern / Arab cuisine, though check each individual cruise as this will differ. The menu for a cruise should be listed on their website.
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