Getting Around UAE

Getting Around UAE

Dubai has a vast geographical expanse, spanning approximately 25 kilometers from the city center to Dubai Marina. Navigating this sprawling city is made easy and budget-friendly, primarily due to the exceptional metro system in place. Taxis offer another convenient and cost-effective means of transportation, complemented by bus services, boat options, and affordable car rentals. Comprehensive details on public transport within the city can be found on the Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) website

Getting Around UAE

Getting Around UAE by Metro Train

Using the Dubai Metro is a cost-effective, efficient, and convenient way to navigate the city. The metro system features cutting-edge driverless trains that operate on a network of both underground and aboveground tracks, with modern and visually striking stations.

Dubai’s metro network comprises two primary lines. The Red Line, stretching over 52 kilometers, initiates at Rashidiya, located just south of the airport, and continues through the airport and the city center, running southward along Sheikh Zayed Road to Jebel Ali. On the other hand, the Green Line, spanning 22 kilometers, encircles the city center, commencing from Al Qusais, north of the airport, passing through Deira and Bur Dubai, and heading down to the Creek.

Trains run at intervals of approximately 4 to 8 minutes. Service is available from Saturday to Thursday, starting around 5:30 am and concluding at midnight (with an extension until 1 am on Thursdays). On Fridays, the metro operates from 10 am to 1 am. Fares are calculated based on the distance traveled, ranging from 3 dirhams (dh) for the shortest journey, up to a maximum of 7.5 dh for a standard trip (or 6 dh to 15 dh for Gold Class), with an option for an entire day’s travel at 20 dh (40 dh in Gold Class). Children under the age of 5 or those measuring less than 0.9 meters travel for free. It’s important to note that tickets are available for purchase at the information kiosks located near the departure gates in all stations, even if the primary ticket offices are closed, which can occur at times.

Additionally, each metro train has a dedicated Gold Class compartment, situated at either the front or rear of the train (indicated by signs above the platform barriers). These Gold Class carriages cost double the standard fare and offer slightly more comfortable seating and decor. The primary advantage, however, is that they are often less crowded, ensuring you a seat, especially when standard-class carriages are full. Given the affordability of the system, paying a bit extra for Gold Class is a justifiable choice for many travelers. Furthermore, all trains include a designated carriage for women and children, usually less crowded than standard-class carriages.

Getting Around UAE

Getting Around UAE by Tram

The Dubai Tram, inaugurated in late 2014, has significantly improved the city’s transportation network, filling a crucial gap in the infrastructure. It provides a convenient mode of travel, although not exceptionally fast, particularly suitable for navigating the Marina area and heading north towards Umm Suqeim. There are future plans for extending the tram system all the way to the Madinat Jumeirah.

This tram network seamlessly connects with the Dubai Metro, featuring interconnecting stations at Jumeirah Lakes Towers and DAMAC Properties/Dubai Marina, as well as the Palm Monorail. Similar to the metro, fares are managed through the Nol system, and all trams offer Gold Class compartments as well as carriages exclusively for women and children.

Operating hours for the tram run from Saturday to Thursday, starting at 6:30 am and concluding at 1 am. On Fridays, services commence at 9 am and continue until 1 am, with trams departing approximately every 8 minutes.

Getting Around UAE by Taxi

Beyond the regions served by the metro and tram, the most efficient and expedient mode of transportation is via taxi. Taxis are readily available throughout the city, day and night, except for specific areas such as Bur Dubai and Deira. In these areas, especially during morning and evening rush hours and after sunset, it might be challenging to find a taxi. Large shopping malls and major hotels consistently prove to be reliable spots for hailing a cab. If all else fails, simply stand by the roadside and signal any passing taxi. Taxis are affiliated with various companies and display a variety of colors, but they all feature illuminated yellow taxi signs on their roofs to indicate their availability for hire. These taxis are operated by several firms, with the largest ones being Cars Taxi, Dubai Taxi, and National Taxis. To book a taxi, you can use the central booking number at 04 208 0808.

Getting Around UAE

Getting Around UAE by Fares

The taxi fares in Dubai offer excellent value for the convenience they provide. A minimum charge of 12 dirhams (dh) is applicable for each ride, which includes a basic flag fare of 5 dh, along with an additional 1.71 dh per kilometer traveled. There are exceptions, such as taxis obtained from the airport, which incur a 20 dh flag fare, and a 20 dh surcharge if your destination is in Sharjah.

If you choose to book a taxi by phone, an extra 3 dh is added to the fare (or 7 dh from 10 pm to 6 am). Should you require the taxi to wait for you, a charge of 0.50 dh per minute is incurred. Additionally, if your taxi passes through a Salik tollgate, there is a 4 dh surcharge. For a comprehensive list of fares and charges, you can refer to

Dubai also offers a small number of “ladies’ cabs,” exclusively driven by female drivers, intended for the use of women and families. These taxis are available at slightly higher rates, ensuring the comfort and security of their passengers.

Drivers and Complaints

In Dubai, the majority of taxi drivers, often hailing from countries like Pakistan or India, including many from Kerala, are well-trained professionals who are well-acquainted with the city’s main landmarks. However, when heading to more obscure destinations, it may be necessary to provide directions or a complete address. In uncertain situations, don’t hesitate to request assistance from the driver’s control center. While occasional rumors circulate about taxi drivers overcharging newly arrived tourists by taking longer routes, such claims generally lack any factual basis. Dubai’s taxi industry is closely regulated, and drivers are unlikely to jeopardize their jobs for a slightly higher fare. Keep in mind that Dubai’s intricate traffic systems can make distances between destinations appear longer. If you find yourself heading in an unexpected direction, the driver might be seeking the correct exit or entrance to a specific road. If you believe you have a valid complaint, register and submit details online at, and make sure to note the driver’s ID number. While tipping is not obligatory, many passengers choose to allow taxi drivers to keep the change from the fare unless they request it back.

Short Distance Travel and Taxi Refusals

In certain instances, taxi drivers may refuse short-distance journeys, particularly outside hotels and malls where they are required to wait in queues for passengers. Technically, drivers are obligated to accept all journeys, regardless of the distance. However, if a driver has been waiting for a significant time and you require a very short trip, it’s understandable that they may prefer not to take the fare. If this occurs, you can simply walk back through the taxi queue to find a more willing driver. The only other situation in which a driver may refuse a fare is if it’s likely to get them caught in a severe traffic jam, such as when crossing the Creek during morning or evening rush hours.

Beware of Hotel Limousines

Be cautious of hotel limousines that may attempt to pass themselves off as regular taxis. Sometimes, hotel doormen may encourage passengers to choose these vehicles, falsely presenting them as conventional taxis. These limousines are metered but typically cost about twice as much as regular cabs, offering minimal benefits apart from leather upholstery and an overpowering scent of inexpensive air freshener. Remember that a genuine taxi will always display a yellow taxi sign on the roof, ensuring a reliable and regulated service.

Getting Around UAE By Abra

In the midst of contemporary Dubai’s tech-driven environment, the experience of crossing the Creek in the city center remains delightfully old-fashioned. This involves a charming journey aboard one of the numerous quaint, traditional boats known as “abras,” shuttling passengers between Deira and Bur Dubai. The passage offers a picturesque adventure, granting passengers splendid views of the captivating jumble of buildings lining the creekside. The landscape is adorned with winding souks, iconic wind towers, mosques, and minarets. It’s worth noting that minor bumps and collisions between boats can occur while docking and departing, so it’s wise to exercise caution to avoid an unintentional plunge into the Creek.

Two Main Abra Routes

There are two primary abra routes that facilitate these nostalgic Creek crossings. The first route operates between the Deira Old Souk Abra Station, situated next to the Spice Souk, and the Bur Dubai Abra Station, located at the north end of the Textile Souk. The second route connects the Al Sabkha Abra Station, at the southern extremity of the Dhow Wharfage in Deira, with the Bur Dubai Old Souk Abra Station, nestled in the heart of the Textile Souk. Additionally, there’s a third abra route that travels from Al Seef Station, positioned at the southern terminus of Bur Dubai, to Baniyas Station, located near Baniyas Square in Deira. For the short and scenic voyage, passengers pay a nominal fee of just 1 dirham (1dh) per crossing. Boats typically depart as soon as they fill up, which means they depart approximately every few minutes. The crossing itself takes about five minutes. Abras operate between 6 am and midnight, except for the route from Bur Dubai Old Souk to Al Sabkha, which offers a reduced service between midnight and 6 am.

Getting Around UAE By Ferry, Water Bus and Water Taxi


For captivating vistas of Dubai from the water, embark on a journey aboard the modern and sophisticated Dubai Ferry. The ferry service operates three times daily in each direction, offering a 75-minute cruise between Bur Dubai and Dubai Marina. Additionally, there are daily one-hour round-trip excursions that depart from the Marina, passing by the iconic Burj al Arab; circumnavigating Palm Jumeirah to Atlantis; traveling from Bur Dubai down the coastline to Jumeirah Public Beach, and navigating the Creek from Bur Dubai. Regardless of the route chosen, the fares for all ferry trips are set at 50 dirhams (50dh), with the option of Gold Class available for 75 dh.

Water Bus:

For shorter trips across the water, a small fleet of water buses operates in the Marina area. They run from Saturday to Thursday between 10 am and 10 pm and on Fridays from noon to midnight. The Marina route has four stations, with fares ranging from 3 to 5 dirhams (3/5dh). These water buses depart every 15 to 20 minutes, and you can purchase tickets at the water bus station where you board. Note that Nol cards are not accepted for payment.

Water Taxi:

In addition to these services, Dubai has introduced a new water taxi service, featuring 32 stations spread across the city. These water taxis are modern, air-conditioned boats with panoramic windows, accommodating around ten passengers. Unlike regular scheduled services, you must charter a water taxi by calling 800 90 90 or booking online at Water taxis are available daily from 10 am to 10 pm, with fares starting at 60 dirhams (60dh) for short journeys and increasing to over 300 dirhams (300dh) for longer routes. Alternatively, you have the option to hire the entire water taxi for fixed durations ranging from 30 minutes to 8 hours, allowing you to enjoy leisurely cruises at your own pace. The cost for renting the entire taxi starts at 200 dirhams (200dh) for 30 minutes.

Getting Around UAE

Getting Around UAE By Bus

Dubai boasts an expansive and well-organized bus network. However, it primarily caters to the needs of low-wage expatriate workers, which might limit its suitability for tourists. Most bus routes cover areas of the city that casual visitors are less likely to be interested in exploring. The majority of these services either commence or conclude their journeys at the Gold Souk Bus Station in Deira or the Al Ghubaiba Bus Station in Bur Dubai, with several routes stopping at both terminals. Bus stops are conveniently marked, and some even feature air-conditioned shelters, offering respite from the sweltering daytime heat. Inside these shelters, you’ll find a helpful map of the bus network and other pertinent information.

For casual visitors seeking an advantageous bus service, consider bus #8, which operates at approximately 20-minute intervals from early morning until late evening. This route commences at the Gold Souk station, proceeds to Al Ghubaiba, and then heads south along Jumeirah Road, passing by the Burj al Arab and Dubai Marina, ultimately concluding its journey at Ibn Battuta Mall. Bus #8 covers a substantial portion of the city not served by the metro or tram. However, if your destination is in the southern part of the city, it’s likely more time-efficient to use the metro for most of your journey and then switch to a taxi for the final leg. It’s important to note that, as part of the Nol ticket scheme, bus fares require a pre-purchased Nol card or ticket, as tickets are not available for sale onboard the bus.

Like Getting Around UAE, you may also like to read about UAE Nationality.

Bus Services to Destinations Beyond Dubai

For travelers looking to journey to destinations outside of Dubai, various bus options are available:

Buses to Sharjah:

  • Buses to Sharjah can be boarded at either Al Ghubaiba Bus Station or Al Sabkha Bus Station in the heart of Deira.
  • Services operate around the clock, with departures approximately every 20 minutes from each station.
  • The journey typically takes between 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • The fare for this route is 10 dirhams (10dh).

Buses to Abu Dhabi:

  • Buses heading to Abu Dhabi depart from Al Ghubaiba Bus Station every 20 minutes, running from 5 am to 11:30 pm.
  • The journey to Abu Dhabi usually takes between 2 to 2.5 hours.
  • The fare for this route is 30 dirhams (30dh).
  • Additionally, buses to Abu Dhabi are available from Ibn Battuta metro station on Saturdays through Thursdays, departing every 30 minutes from 5 am to 10 pm. On Fridays, services operate hourly from 5 am to noon, and then every 30 to 40 minutes until 11 pm. The journey duration is typically 1.5 to 2 hours, and the fare is 30 dirhams (30dh).

Minibuses to Al Ain:

  • Minibuses to Al Ain can be boarded at Al Ghubaiba Bus Station.
  • Departures occur approximately every 40 minutes from 5:40 pm to 10 pm.
  • The fare for this route is 20 dirhams (20dh).

Buses from Deira to Hatta:

  • Minibuses traveling to Hatta are available from Al Sabkha Bus Station in Deira.
  • These buses operate hourly from 6 am to 10 pm.
  • The fare for this route is 20 dirhams (20dh).

Travelers can use Nol cards on select Sharjah and Abu Dhabi bus services, though these cards are not applicable to Al Ain or Hatta routes. Alternatively, tickets can be purchased at the respective bus stations for these journeys.

Getting Around UAE By Car

Renting a car in Dubai can be a viable choice for travelers, but there are crucial factors to keep in mind:

Driving Challenges in Dubai:

  • Dubai’s roads are persistently congested, and the driving standards can be somewhat unpredictable.
  • Navigational complexities add to the challenge, including ongoing construction works, inconsistent signage, intricate road layouts, and convoluted one-way systems.
  • Getting around can be a substantial challenge due to these navigational difficulties.
  • On highways to Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, local Emiratis are known for their aggressive driving styles, making accidents more frequent and caution imperative.

Driving Rules:

  • Driving is on the right-hand side in Dubai.
  • Speed limits include 60 or 80 km/h in built-up areas, and 100 or 120 km/h on main highways, although some local drivers often exceed these limits significantly.
  • Parking can be a headache in many areas, with hotels typically providing free parking, but on-street parking is often metered, with rates of 2, 5, or 8 dirhams for 1, 2, or 3 hours.
  • Finding on-street parking can be particularly challenging in the congested old city.
  • Gasoline prices are relatively economical, with petrol costing around 1.7 dirhams per liter.

Salik Road Tolls:

  • Dubai has six road toll points operating under the Salik scheme, located on bridges such as Maktoum and Garhoud, along Sheikh Zayed Road (near Al Safa Park and Al Barsha, next to the Mall of the Emirates), at the airport tunnel, and at Al Mamzar on the main road to Sharjah.
  • Payments are automated, charged to your vehicle’s account each time you pass through.
  • If you’re driving a rental car, the rental company will deduct toll fees (typically 4 dirhams, plus a 1 dirham service charge) from your credit card.

Handling Accidents and Zero Tolerance for Drink-Driving:

  • If you’re involved in an accident, local law requires you not to move your vehicle until the police have been contacted and the accident’s circumstances are investigated.
  • Dubai has a strict zero-tolerance policy for drink-driving. Any trace of alcohol in your system while driving can result in significant penalties, including hefty fines or imprisonment. It’s crucial to avoid any alcohol consumption before driving in Dubai.

Car Rental

Dubai offers a plethora of car rental choices to suit various preferences and budgets:

International and Local Agencies:

  • All major international car rental agencies maintain offices in Dubai.
  • Numerous local firms are also available, offering potential cost savings compared to international counterparts, although service and support may vary in professionalism and comprehensiveness.
  • Rental car drivers must be at least 21 years old, with some larger vehicles requiring a minimum age of 25.
  • Typically, your home country’s driving license should suffice, but it’s advisable to confirm beforehand.

Affordable Rates:

  • Car rental rates are generally cost-effective, starting as low as 80 dirhams (£15/US$21) per day for a basic vehicle, which often includes collision damage waiver (highly recommended).
  • Some rental agencies provide the added convenience of delivering and collecting vehicles to and from your Dubai address, eliminating the need to pick up the car in person. Verify this option when making your reservation.

Convenient Locations:

  • Car rental desks are available at major hotels, offering an additional option for renters.
  • Several tour operators also extend car rental services.
  • The highest concentration of car rental offices can be found at the airport, primarily in Terminal 1.
  • Car rental offices are also strategically scattered along Sheikh Zayed Road, offering a more convenient and less stressful starting point than the airport, particularly if your destination lies to the south of the city.
Getting Around UAE

Nol cards

Dubai employs an integrated payment system called Nol, encompassing the metro, buses, and waterbuses in its public transport network. To access these services, travelers need to obtain pre-paid Nol cards or tickets in advance, which can be purchased and loaded with credit at various locations, including metro stations, designated machines at select bus stops, and specific retail outlets like Carrefour, Spinneys, and Redha Al-Ansari Exchange. Notably, tickets are not available for purchase on board metro trains, buses, or waterbuses, ensuring a seamless and efficient travel experience. Travelers simply swipe their Nol cards or tickets at the designated points, with the correct fare for the journey automatically deducted from the pre-paid account.

Varieties of Nol Cards and Tickets

Dubai’s Nol system offers three distinct types of Nol cards, all of which are valid for a five-year period and can store credit up to 500 dirhams. The Silver Card, priced at 20 dirhams (inclusive of 14 dirhams credit), serves as a cost-effective option. For the same price, the Gold Card offers the same benefits as the Silver Card and allows travelers access to Gold Class compartments on the metro. The Blue Card, priced at 70 dirhams (including 20 dirhams credit), is primarily tailored for residents. It comes with added advantages such as an automatic top-up feature and the potential to earn loyalty points, though it is exclusively obtainable through written or online applications, making it less suitable for casual visitors.

Alternatively, tourists can opt for the Red Ticket, a paper-based ticket designed specifically for their convenience. Priced at just 2 dirhams, it is valid for 90 days but must be pre-paid with the appropriate fare for each journey. It can be recharged up to a maximum of ten times. For those planning to use public transport frequently during their stay in the city, investing in a Silver or Gold card is a wise choice.