In a dazzling ceremony marked by laser shows, water-borne acrobatics and fireworks, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai inaugurated the Dubai Water Canal on Wednesday.
Shaikh Mohammad marked the opening by pressing on an electronic panel, flashing an image of Burj Khalifa on massive screens arranged on the canal banks, and sending laser beams racing through and along its bridges.
Shaikh Mohammad, accompanied by Crown Prince of Dubai Shaikh Hamdan and Deputy Ruler of Dubai Shaikh Maktoum, then took a boat ride from Jumeirah Bay Island towards the Dubai Water Canal, followed by a flotilla of ferries and abras boarded by officials and engineers who worked on the Dh2.7-billion ($730 million) project.
Fireworks lit up the sky over Jumeirah and Safa as the flotilla of boats approached the Shaikh Zayed road bridge, presenting a stunning view of the illuminated waterfall and the Dubai skyline.
The glittering ceremony marked the extension of Dubai Creek from Ras Al Khor via Business Bay to the Arabian Gulf.
The project realises a dream of reviving the legendary Dubai Creek that in ancient times flew all the way to Arabian Gulf passing through what is now Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai.
Speaking at the ceremony, Shaikh Mohammad said: “I am very happy with this project. In the past the Creek used to reach the area where Burj Khalifa currently is, and then used to flow towards the sea in the North. So all that we have done is restore Dubai Creek to what it used to be prior to changes caused by the winds and the sands.”
He added: “This is a ground-breaking achievement for the UAE. Through the Dubai Water Canal, we bring back the past glory to Dubai Creek. This project will have a positive imprint on the environment in Dubai.”
He said that the dream is now a reality with the opening of the Dubai Water Canal, which will change the face of Dubai.
The extension stretching from Ras Al Khor to the Arabian Gulf is 12-kilometres long and was built at a cost of Dh3.7 billion, which includes the 3.2-km second phase of the canal from Shaikh Zayed road to Jumeirah Bay Island built at a cost of Dh2.7 billion.
The canal, which ranges from 80 metres to 120 metres in width, stretches from the Business Bay, crosses the Sheikh Zayed Road, passes Safa Park, Al Wasl Road and Jumeirah 2, terminates at the Arabian Gulf.
Dubai Holding built the first phase of the Water Canal at the cost of Dh1 billion, while the Roads and Transport Authority in association with Meraas and Meydan executed the second phase.
As part of development of the area adjoining the canal, Dubai Holding will build ‘Marasi Business Bay.’ The development will boast the longest promenade in the UAE, spanning 12 km, featuring water homes, floating restaurants, retail outlets and five palm-lined marinas.
The project also features the region’s first purpose-built yachting destination with floating restaurants and cafes, alongside onshore boutique shopping and entertainment facilities.
Chairman of Dubai Holding, Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi said that company’s participation in the first phase of the project is a source of pride for the group.
“We will implement the ‘Marasi Business Bay’ project on the banks of the canal, creating a new tourist attraction for the city,” he said.
Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA said that the Canal will have a positive environmental and commercial impact.
“Dubai Water Canal will become a prominent urban and tourist landmark capable of raising the profile of Dubai as a splendid tourist attraction,” said Al Tayer.
Saeed Humaid Al Tayer, Chairman and CEO of Meydan Group, said: “The Dubai Water Canal is an important milestone that will enhance the lives of visitors and residents.”
The project is set to have a positive impact on tourism in Dubai.
Top dignitaries attended the ceremony, marking the completion Dubai’s biggest project rolled out this year.
Earlier, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has tweeted that there could be delays on Shaikh Zayed Road between 6.30 and 7.30pm Wednesday evening, urging motorists to use alternative routes.
The 3.2-kilometre-long canal serves as the final segment of the Dubai Creek extension, terminating in the Arabian Gulf via Al Safa, Al Wasl and Jumeirah 2.
The opening of the canal opens up new possibilities in marine transport, connecting the historic areas of Deira and Bur Dubai through the extended waterway of Dubai Creek, Business Bay and Dubai Water Canal.
Group Chairman of Meraas, Abdullah Al Habbai, said: “The Dubai Water Canal is one of the most important tourism projects in the city, transforming the landscape and features of the emirate, which has established itself as a shining example for cities around the world.”
The landmark is expected to attract more than 30 million visitors per year.