Al Maktoum Bridge 1963

Al Maktoum Bridge was built by Overseas AST, an Austrian Engineering and Construction Company, established in Dubai in 1959, and responsible for constructing many of Dubai's first projects. Sir William Halcrow and Partners were Engineering Consultants for Al Maktoum Bridge's Design and Construction. Photos by Ludwig Hejze

Paying for Al Maktoum Bridge

John Harris's Dubai Master Plan included a bridge across Dubai Creek to link Dubai and Deira. Sheikh Rashid's son-in-law, Sheikh Ahmad bin Ali Al Thani, then Ruler of Qatar, provided the financial backing to build Al Maktoum Bridge. Sheikh Rashid paid for the bridge's construction by charging a Toll for vehicles to cross the bridge. That charge only applied when crossing from Deira to Dubai. Travelling the other way was free, probably because the main flow of cargo was from Dubai to Deira.

Buying a Bridge Toll Ticket

Toll Tickets were printed on Blue Paper and sold in "Tear Off" Books and only sold to the general6public in shops. Government Departments were issued Toll Ticket Books without charge. A wooden Toll Booth, next to the bridge entrance on Deiraside, was manned by a Toll Collector. His task was to collect a Toll Ticket from each vehicle crossing from Deira to Dubai. Toll Booth was small so he usually stood outside. As Vehicles approached the Booth from Deira, their Drivers waved a Toll Ticket out of the Driver's window. They made no effort to slow down! They simply judged when best to let go of their Toll Ticket so it floated in the wind andt landed somewhere near the Toll Collector's Booth. The Toll Collector rarely bothered to collect these scattered Toll Tickets. Just letting a Toll Ticket loose from a vehicle window was enough for the Toll Collector to know you had bought a ticket. Landscape and road on Deiraside of Al Maktoum Bridge turned blue with the mass of littered Toll Tickets! Anyone taking the trouble to look closely, they may have found many "Toll Tickets" were just pieces of blue paper!

By around 1973 Al Maktoum Bridge was paid for. Thereafter traffic was not required to pay a Toll ...................... The Toll Collector had to find a new Job!

Al Maktoum Bridge Opens

Sheikh Rashid officially opened Dubai's first bridge on 23rd May 1963 connecting Dubai and Deira sides of the Creek. People no longer had to drive, ride or walk around the top of Dubai Creek to get from one side to the other. More importantly Al Maktoum Bridge enabled commercial goods to move quickly from Customs Wharves on Dubai side to Deira Dhow Wharves. There these same goods were traded then shipped by Dhow to India, East Africa and Gulf Countries. Al Maktoum Bridge as built in 1963 did not have a Lifting Section. That was added later between 1969 and 1970. More information

Sheikh Rashid and His Bridge

Sheikh Rashid regularly came to see the construction progress. He arrived in his Mercedes without any body guards. He didn't speak English and didn't speak Arabic to us but that was not a barrier to his communicating with us. One of our foremen was a big man with large hands and a very strong grip. He shook Sheikh Rashid's hand very hard. Sheikh Rashid made a show of pulling his fingers back into place one by one! Thereafter Sheikh Rashid would bring one of his friends and present him to our Foreman then stand back, wink at the Foreman and watch what happened. When his friend was given the crushing handshake Sheikh Rashid would laugh and enjoy the practical joke

Quote by Ludwig Hejze

Click Images to see Al Maktoum Bridge under construction 1963

  • Image by L Hejze
  • Image by L Hejze