Al Maktoum Bridge's Lifting Section 1970

Dubai's Al Maktoum Bridge opened in 1963 connecting Dubaiside and Deiraside. It was a fixed bridge. Later Sheikh Rashid decided to deepen Dubai Creek to 20 feet. Al Maktoum Bridge was restructured to include a Lifting Bridge Section. This new hydraulically operated Lifting Section together with Dubai Creek's increased water depth enabled small ships and dhows to pass thru bridge and gain access to Dubai Creek's upper reaches.


Al Maktoum Bridge 1970

Al Maktoum Bridge had traffic lights and road barriers to control road traffic over the bridge. Traffic lights turned to red and road barriers lowered to bring any road traffic to a halt when the bridge was about to be raised . Once any ship or dhow had passed through the bridge the traffic lights returned to green, the road barriers lifted and road traffic allowed to cross Al Maktoum Bridge. A Bridge Controller in an adjacent Control Tower controlled and coordinated these operations. Ships and Dhows needed to access Dubai Creek's upper reaches either to deliver imported bagged cement to a central storage facility or access Ship Repair facilities newly developed at the top of the Creek. Ship Repair Facilities were later relocated to Dubai Maritime City and the Bagged Cement Storage demolished to make way for Dubai's Law Courts.

What the Dredger Captain saw!

Ludwig Hejze from Austria was Captain of the Overseas AST's Dredger "William Strobel". He describes how Al Maktoum Bridge's Lifting Section was opened....

Sir William Halcrow planned HH Sheikh Rashid would sail under the raised Lifting Section to open the Bridge. But my company received an order to dredge the Upper Creek and wanted me to start immediately. The Dredger was too high to get under the bridge so I would have to spend two days partly dismantling the Dredger to reduce its height. It was unnecessary work. I wanted to sail the Dredger under the bridge. Halcrow's Site Manager did not agree because of their plans for Sheikh Rashid to be the first under the bridge.
That evening I met Nevil Allen (Halcrow's Director) and told him what I wanted to do but he could not help. Next day I was told to start dismantling the dredger. I decided to try again to persuade them to let me sail under the bridge. I argued if I sailed safely under the bridge it would be safe for Sheikh Rashid to do so. To my surprise Halcrow's agreed but their Site Manager insisted on operating the bridge controls. As I sailed through I pointed one finger of my right hand into the air to show I was the first and did a "thumbs up" with my other hand to show all was well. I could see Halcrow's Site Manager shouting at me from the Control Tower but noise prevented me hearing what he said. I do not think it was something children should hear!
Later I was told Sheikh Rashid said "No!" when he was asked if he wanted to sail by boat to open the bridge. He opened the Al Maktoum Bridge by cutting a ribbon then pressing a button to operate the Lifting Bridge.

Ludwig Hejze 2008

Click Image to see Ludwig's Images of Al Maktoum Lifting Bridge