The great city of Dubai is well known as one of the most developed and important cities in the world. The metropolis is home to millions of residents and tourists who wish to commute as fast as possible around the city. Their needs have been accommodated and today we have a very developed and efficient transport network. Essentially it is broken down into four main categories: travelling by (rental) car, taxi, public transport or walking.
Renting a car in Dubai is very smart idea especially if you are staying for a short time. You can get around Dubai quickly and comfortably in the privacy of your own vehicle. The daily rate for a small car is circa AED 200. You should expect additional costs if you are renting it on the airport, for multiple people, in one direction or if you are younger than 25.
You have to be older than 21 to rent a car in Dubai and also have an international driving license. Along with these two requisitions, you need your domestic driving license and a valid credit card.
Do not forget to buy insurance with your car rental. There are frequent accidents in Dubai so you can avoid a whole hassle if you get it immediately.
Dubai has a strict 4 hours parking limit, after that you have to move your vehicle. Parking is free on Fridays and public holidays. Public parking is marked with black and blue colors. The tickets can be bought on orange machines, which accept both cash and credit card. The parking rates differ per area. In some you can find parking for AED 2 while in others AED 15. Also do not forget to buy a ticket, since a fine for not buying one is AED 100.
The following road rules apply in Dubai.
Taxis are one of the most used forms of transportation in Dubai. They are fast, comfortable and give you the chance to privately travel from one place to another. Most cab drivers speak enough English to understand where they need to drop you off. If you are travelling to less known or private residence, you can use this obvious but hefty trick. Find the address written down in Arabic and show it to the driver.
There are five different taxi companies in Dubai. They are differed by the color of the roof. Car taxis are specific for their blue roof while Dubai Transport Company can be identified with the red roof. You also have metro taxis which have orange roofs and national taxis with the traditional yellow roof. There is another, rather interesting, taxi company in Dubai, the Ladies Taxi. It is a taxi service where exclusively female cab drivers operate and can be identified with its pink roof.
You should also know that starter fees in Dubai differ based on several circumstances. If you are taking a cab drive from the airport, you will have an AED 25 starter fee. The drive from the airport to the city costs around AED 90. The starter fee during the day, from 6 AM to 10 PM is AED 3.50. In the remaining time it is AED 4. Reserved taxis are paid more, AED 6.5 during the day and AED 7.5 during the night. The price per kilometer is approximately AED 1.60.
Finding a cab in Dubai is an easy task in most situations but there are a few exceptions. You will have difficulty finding one near major shopping centers on evenings and nights, especially on Thursday and Friday. The shopping district Karama in Deira is also troublesome, together with Bur Dubai bus station and The Walk at JBR Dubai Marina.
Nol cards are rechargeable fare cards. They are used for most forms of public transport, including local buses and the metro. You can purchase these cards in any metro or bus station.
There are four different types of tickets you can purchase. The most basic one is the red card which you can acquire for AED 2. You can load it with up to 10 journeys. It is perfect for tourists who want to explore the city. The blue card is a personal card, mostly designed for residents and everyday commuters. It costs AED 70 and can be loaded with up to AED 500 of tickets. The silver card is an anonymous card which can be loaded with up to AED 5000. It can be bought for AED 25 and is great for quick access to the public transport network. The final card is the gold card, which is identical to the silver, but also includes access to Gold Class Seats in the metro.
Dubai Metro, which has been functional since 2010, is the fastest way to get around in Dubai. The metro features two routes, the green line and the red line. The green line, which is 22.5 kilometers long, connects Dubai Airport Free Zone with Dubai Healthcare city. The red line, which is more than double the length of the green one, starts from Dubai International Airport and ends at Jebel Ali, close to Dubai Marina. The red line is mostly parallel to Sheikh Zayed road, one of the most important roads in Dubai. The stop on Union and Khalid bin al-Waleed are the intersections of the two.
To enter the metro you need the previously mentioned Nol cards. The fares are not expensive. They depend on how far you wish to go. The cheapest ticket costs AED 2 while the most expensive one is the AED 6.5 one. Going in the metro without a ticket is a terrible idea. The conductors regularly check out the tickets. If you are caught without a ticket, you will pay an AED 200 fine.
The metro train has 4 normal cars, in which anyone can enter, 1 special car for women and 1 for gold class commuters. The train comes every 10 minutes or so. The metro works from 6 AM until 11 PM on every day apart from Friday (1pm to Midnight). Leaflets written in English can be found in the station which will guide you to your destination. Local buses and taxis can be found on each metro station which you can use for further travel.
Water buses represent another effective way to travel across the Creek. Each bus is air conditioned and provides a comfortable ride. There are five different routes for water busses.
Dubai's bus fleet features almost 80 different routes. The clean, comfortable buses, which are cooled down with air conditioning, provide a great escape from the midday heat. The buses are mostly used by low-income commuters, since the ticket price is sometimes as low as AED 2 per trip. The bus network connects pretty much most of the city but they tend to be significantly slow, especially during rush hours. Keep that in mind. Also note that there are special buses which connect iconic locations, such as the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall Bus.
The Palm Jumeirah Monorail is the most efficient way to travel from Dubai Marina to the Palm Jumeirah. The trip lasts only 5 minutes and costs AED 15. You can get a discount of AED 5 if you buy a return ticket. The driver-less monorail, only has two stations, the Gateway Towers and Aquaventure Park. So if you need to get quickly from one location to the other, this is your best choice. Abras For those of you who don't know, abras are UAE traditional wooden boats which have been motorized. The abra can accommodate up to 20 people. The ticket price is only AED 1, which is paid in the middle of the journey. You can event rent out an entire abra for yourself for just AED 100 per hour.
Abras connect Deira and Bur Dubai by travelling through the Creek. There are two routes. The first one starts from Bur Dubai Abra station and travels to Deira Old Souq Abra Station. It operates daily from 5 AM all the way to midnight. The second route originates from the Dubai Old Souq Abra station and ventures to the Al-Sabkha Abra station, throughout the entire day.
You can also travel in modern abras but their ticket is significantly higher. The trip costs AED 50 per person. The modern abras ride across the Creek from 10 AM until 10 PM.
Travelling on foot in Dubai is certainly the cheapest and most reliable form of transport. There are some things you need to know before you choose walking as your preferred method of transport. Walking during the summer months is a really bad idea. As you probably know, the temperatures during summer in Dubai be extremely high followed by high humidity. For that reason walking in Dubai is recommended only in winter months, December and January. It is also important to mention that walking can be difficult in some areas of Dubai. Not all areas have pedestrian crossings, pavements and traffic stops. The city is aware of the problem and is constructing new sidewalks and pedestrian over-bridges but just keep in mind that you might encounter such a problem.
On the plus side, walking in Dubai can be a very pleasant and safe way to explore the city. Dubai is clean and has a great grip on the criminal activities, which makes your walks safe and pleasant. These are the main ways to get around in Dubai. Hopefully you have learned about the transport network in Dubai and have a clear picture of how you can get around the city. The final piece of advice is for you to do extra research on your favorite form of transport. You might find some cool deals and discounts!