Transportation Options When Moving to Dubai UAE

Published: 29 Sep at 9 AM
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Filed: Expat Guide to Dubai,United Arab Emirates
Moving to any new country involves a lot of decision making and contemplating where to live, how you will find a job and in what way you will navigate your new city, are just a few.

One of the most important decisions for us was where to live in Dubai, because it was inextricably linked to me being able to navigate our new home. I don’t drive; growing up in London, with it’s abundance of transport options, there was never really any need. So I never learnt. Now living in a ridiculously hot country, not being able to drive does cause some issues during the summer months. But there are tons of transport options in Dubai which make living here as a non-driving expat, easy.

Firstly if you do drive, there are loads of great car hire companies who will rent vehicles to expats on a monthly term at quite a reasonable rate. Or obviously, you can purchase a new or second hand car. If you go down the new route, things will be a little more complicated. You will need your visa and Emirates ID card, a bank account and a source of income.

One thing to be aware of if you drive is the Salik charges. There are tolls on lots of roads in Dubai and while they are relatively cheap and have a cut off point, every car must have a Salik tag which clocks how many times you go through the toll gates. If your hiring a car, the hire car will come with the Salik tag and the hire car company will bill you at the end of each month for your Salik.

If you don’t drive, don’t worry; you can still navigate the city. First up there is the bus; there are tons of bus routes that run across Dubai, operate regular timetables and offer a very affordable transport solution. And because everything in Dubai is better, the bus stops are air-conditioned booths, so no sweaty wait on the side of the street.

The metro in Dubai is probably my favourite form of transport; it is clean, super efficient and very cheap. A ride from one side of town at Dubai Marina to the other side, Downtown Dubai near the Burj Khalifa costs just a few pounds when you convert it. It is certainly better value for money than the London Underground. We chose our apartment because the location was perfect and the location was perfect because of our proximity to transport options, namely the metro. Ok, it is still a little too hot for the 7 minute walk to the closest metro station but come the cooler months, I think this will be my main transport.

The metro in Dubai operates two routes, the red line which runs from Jebel Ali down Sheikh Zayed Road, the main road in Dubai ending in Bur Dubai, at Rashidiya. The green line runs vertically through the denser parts of the city from Etisalat to the Creek. Using the tube is effortless and with free Wi-Fi and air-conditioned terminals and women only carriages making it safe and comfortable.

To access the metro you can buy a single ticket or a NOL card, which is a little bit like an oyster card. There are several NOL cards for different users; the silver one is the basic and allows you to top up your card at service points in the stations. The gold card can also be topped up as and when needed and offers user access to a special gold class carriage of the metro and as such metro fares are a little more expensive. The red card can be bought from any service point and allows you to pay for the exact trip only.

One important thing to note and this will come with adapting to a new country; the metro doesn’t start til 1pm on Fridays, holy day here in Dubai so don’t be caught out making the hot walk to the station early Friday morning, only to find it closed. I speak from experience.

Lastly there are taxis. Coming from London, taxis were never really a transport option for me because of the sheer cost; getting into a London cab can leave a serious dent in your bank balance. But in Dubai, taxis are cheap as chips, which means they are a regular feature of me navigating the city. I can get to work, about a 20 minute journey for just 30 AED, which translates to about 5 pounds. And the best bit, there are so many of them; at any time of day there will be at least 2 outside my apartment building, ready and waiting to whisk you to your destination. The only downside to taxis in Dubai is that not every taxi driver knows his way around. You may end up directing them to your destination so having the Google maps app on your phone is recommended.

As if you needed any more transport options there is also water taxi, camel and jeep, all of which may make more sense depending on the situation you find yourself in.

The RTA website, the Dubai transport authority, will give you loads of great info on transport options and car regulations. Check out Dubai Metro section of the RTA website which explains the charges, the routes and where to buy tickets.

The level of service and options in Dubai means no matter your limitations, transportation and as such navigating Dubai is always possible.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingMimi is a British expat living in United Arab Emirates. Blog description: The life and loves of an expat now living in Dubai, have relocated from Cyprus. From food to fashion, photography, design, art, culture, lifestyle and the weather.
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