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Sunken vessels raised from ‘polluted’ Dubai Creek in major operation

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Two large sunken vessels are being lifted from Dubai Creek to avoid blocking other boats and further polluting the waterway.

The major operation by Dubai Municipality coincided with a wider three-day clean-up that saw seen refrigerators, gas cylinders and cooking pots pulled from the water by 26 divers from Dubai Police.

Officials said much of the debris had been thrown overboard by sailors. Last year 1,160 tonnes were pulled from the 7km Creek, the equivalent of three tonnes every day. Dubai Municipality said that the two wooden dhows, which have been at the bottom of the creek for between three to four years, are blocking other vessels from dropping anchor.

Abdul Majeed Saifaie, director of the waste management department at Dubai Municipality, said: “The sunken boats are polluting the creek, obstructing the movement of vessels and taking up space at the marina.” The removal operation involved heavy cranes.

One of the boats has been raised while the other is still being moved. Yacoop Al Ali, head of specialist hygiene at the municipality, said: “The job has involved several surprises including one of the boats breaking up, as its wood was rotten. “And the second boat was too heavy to lift as it had sunk with some products inside.

The two main pieces of wreckage weighed 19 tonnes in total. Workers had initially used a crane that could lift 200 tonnes but the boat was too heavy. Al Ali said: “We now need to remove the products inside the boat before we can lift it up.” The two disused boats had been anchored for several years at Marina 2, before they sank to the bottom after rotting.

The municipality removed 10 vessels in 2012 – mostly in the Al Jadaf area – and one last year which had been abandoned by its owners. Dubai Police said that the Creek water was so dirty that it reduced the visibility to less than one metre.

Major Ali Al Naqbi, head of the maritime rescue department at Dubai Police, said: “Visibility in deep water is usually more than 7 feet [2.1m] so the low visibility was the biggest challenge for the divers, and along with the pollution of the Creek, which hampers their health, as a well as marine life.

“The majority of the waste comes from vessels passing by dumping all kinds of waste – this needs to change.” The fine for being caught dumping waste is Dhs500. Al Naqbi added: “People need to understand the importance of keeping the Creek clean.

It is an important lifeline for our city and it has important historical significant for the emirate – the littering needs to stop.”


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