Transport chiefs in Dubai unveiled a next generation fleet of high-powered wooden abras as part of a major drive to boost the emirate's marine transport sector.
The time-honoured design of the popular boats - a familiar sight cruising the waters of Dubai Creek - has been overhauled in order to bolster safety standards and improve access for people with disabilities.
Mattar Al Tayer, director-general of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) was briefed on the enhanced technical features of the vessels during a trial tour at Dubai Creek.
The raft of changes include designated spaces for two wheelchairs, life jackets placed under its seats and the use of GPS technology, cameras and nol card payment systems.
The engines in the enhanced abras operate at more than double the horse power of their predecessors and are linked with the remote monitoring system, and advanced sound and lighting systems onboard.
The driver seat has also been relocated to offer them a better view when ferrying passengers across the waters.
The new-look abra is made out of African teak wood, measures 10.6 metres in length and is roughly 3 metres wide.
The boat can accommodate 20 passengers, is powered by a 78 horse power diesel engine, compared to the 30 hp diesel engine of the old Abras.
RTA has also improved the position of the engine by placing it in a closed chamber equipped with soundproof and firefighting systems.
The Abra is equipped with hydraulic steering to improve driving and manoeuvring. The engine room is fitted with soundproofing and anti-vibration systems to reduce noise pollution.
Accordingly, the noise is decreased in the new Abra to less than 65 decibels, the universally permissible limit.
The abra remains one of the most scenic and affordable ways to travel through Dubai, with fares at just Dh1.
“Operating the new Abra is part of a master plan developed by RTA to overhaul Dubai’s marine transport systems which are used by 14 million riders per annum," said Mr Al Tayer.
"RTA plans to increase the number of marine transport stations to 59 stations by 2025 and manufacture 26 marine transport modes.
"It also plans to open new lines on Dubai Creek and the coastal strip along the Jumeirah beaches as well as new lines to serve the new islands and others along the Dubai Water Canal.
The transport boss said Dubai's marine transport sector has experienced encouraging growth in recent years and is set t make further waves in the future.
“The marine transport sector is experiencing a steady growth in the number of modes, stations and passengers since the launch of the Dubai Water Canal that links Dubai Creek with the Arabian Gulf beaches," he said.
"This sector is poised to see bigger growth upon the completion of the urban and tourist facilities on both sides of the canal and the building of more stations along the canal.
"Marine transport modes have the potential to become the ideal choice of many citizens, residents and tourists who will enjoy picturesque sceneries of urban and tourist facilities on both banks of the canal and along the skyline of the Arabian Gulf shores."