Dubai Canal: the city’s latest architectural feat

In a Q&A with HE Mattar Al Tayer, Director General, Chairman of the Board of Executive directors, Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Vision delves into the construction of Dubai’s inspiring new development

What makes the Dubai Canal more than a piece of architecture – why is it so meaningful? How did the project evolve from an idea in the mind of the late His Highness Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, to come to fruition?

The vision of the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum has been realised in the creation of Dubai Canal. In 1959, it was Sheikh Rashid's idea to deepen Dubai Creek to improve marine navigation, and build Al Maktoum and Al Garhoud bridges as well as Al Shindagha Tunnel. Today, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has completed a historic journey by successfully connecting the Business Bay area with the waters of the Arabian Gulf.

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HE Mattar Mohamed Al Tayer, Director General, Chairman of the Board of Executive directors, RTA

During the launch of the canal, it was fitting to play a heritage-inspired aerial show titled A Million Drops Make the Oceans, which perfectly surmised the crucial steps taken by Sheikh Rashid for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed to build a bigger dream. 

The 3.2km Canal is not only grandly beautiful, but smart – the five pedestrian bridges are not only fitted with electric elevators and escalators on both sides, (and one has a concrete bridge to serve cyclists) but has smart electric poles controllable with a smart app too. It is also proud to be environmentally friendly, seeking to improve the water quality by 33 per cent and improves the turnover of water in the entire system up to four times per year. Marine transport is similarly greatly enhanced, with 10 Marine stations where the ridership of marine transit modes in the canal expected to exceed one million riders per year, jumping to four million by 2020. This is the equivalent of about 2.9 million journeys by vehicles on roads. 

What was the inspiration for the three bridges? The bridge with the waterfall is especially impressive…

The bridges’ concept and their design process was inspired by the current architectural and urban fabric of Dubai. The Canal is a modern extension of Dubai Creek and as such, is a journey from the past to the future. It traverses through the past (Deira) through new Dubai (Business Bay) and Jumeirah ending in the Arabian Gulf. Raising the bridges emphasises how the Canal influences the future urban structure of Dubai as it carves its way through present developments and shapes new ones. The waterfall reinforces this idea, by lifting water from the Canal to create the new waterfall.

What new experience does the Water Canal bring to residents and tourists alike?

The project will provide access to the most prestigious new and old districts of Dubai in either direction. It will further create numerous opportunities by significantly increasing waterfront development, providing the possibility of modern water transport, improving water quality in Dubai Creek, and becoming a signature tourist attraction.