Without the creek, Dubai would not exist. This safe inlet, one of a few in the Gulf area, was the obvious choice for a commercial port for the sea-trade that funds the region. Dubai port developed into the natural focus for ocean traffic around the Gulf, to the west, and for boats from India and Africa. The waterfront bears little resemblance to its early years, because it's been dredged and widened several times during the 20th century. On the Deira bank near the creek mouth are a series of low-rise merchant districts that include the major souks. Further inland at Al-Rigga and Garhoud, the Deira creek front is home to the first modernist architecture that transformed the city from local hub into worldwide style icon. Dubai's abra, or water taxis, have been transporting people across the creek for as long as anyone can remember. Once powered by oars, tiny engines now push the 20-person wooden craft on the seven- or eight-minute crossing. Abras carried more than 27 million passengers in 2007.
Two stations on the Deira Waterfront (Baniyas Rd.) close to the Spice Souk and at Al Sabkha, Dubai, United Arab Emirates