Although Dubai’s infrastructure is still continuously improving to satisfy the rapidly growing population and the thousands of tourists visiting the city, it already has an effective transport system.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), launched by the government in 2005, has the responsibility for controlling all the transport and traffic projects in Dubai.

Despite the fact that Dubai is not really designed for pedestrians, it has a quite sufficient public transport system with numerous options for getting around.

Arriving in the city, you can easily get a quite cheap taxi with excellent service right in front of the airport, or you can opt for renting a car.

The public transport facilities are also excellent in Dubai so while travelling around you can choose from any of the transport vehicles including metro, tram, monorail, bus or even water taxi.

Road network and address system

At first sight, Dubai’s road system looks quite complicated, but it will not take too long for you to find your way around the city either. Dubai has broad highways to accommodate the massive traffic flow, and they are connecting the city to other emirates. These roads are marked with E, and their emblem is a falcon. These main highways are the following:

  • E11: Sheikh Zayed Road – runs from Sharjah to Abu Dhabi parallel to the sea and it also connects to the highly visited areas such as Dubai Creek, Downtown Dubai, Jumeira, Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina
  • E44: Al Khail Road – runs from Sports City to Ras Al Khor then turns and continues towards Hatta and Oman
  • E311: Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road – connects Abu Dhabi to Sharjah
  • E611: Emirates Road, also known as Outer Ring Road or Dubai Bypass Road – links Abu Dhabi to Ras Al Khaimah (another emirate in the UAE)
  • E66: Oud Metha Road – connects Dubai to Al Ain

Dubai’s narrower roads and streets connect the localities within the city. They are marked with D, and their emblem is a fort. Some of the important roads are:

  • D63: Umm Suqeim Road
  • D69: Al Hadiqa Street/Muscat Street
  • D71: Financial Center Road
  • D73: Al Dhiyafa Road/2nd December Street
  • D75: Sheikh Rashid Road
  • D85: Baniyas Road
  • D89: Al Maktoum Road/Airport Road
  • D92: Al Khaleej Road/Al Wasl Road
  • D94: Jumeirah Road

As you noticed above some roads and areas have two different names, sometimes two streets have the same name or number, and you might not find postcode either.

Dubai is just introducing an integrated address system due to the growing population and the expanding city to replace this confusing system.

This addressing project includes dividing the city into districts and further into smaller communities, renaming streets and creating proper addresses (with building number, street name, community and district)

Along with the continuously improving infrastructure, there is a growing population with thousands of visitors which adds to the traffic jams.

One of the projects to decrease the congestions is the allocation of separating lanes for Dubai Buses and Taxis.

These roads are selected according to the highly populated areas and the designated lanes are clearly marked with yellow color:

  • Al Mankhool Road (Al Satwa roundabout up to Sheikh Rashid Road)
  • Al Khaleej Road (near Khalid bin Al Waleed Road Intersection up to Al Musalla Road opposite to Hyatt Regency Hotel)
  • Khalid bin Al Waleed Road
  • Al Ghubaiba Road

On Foot

Although the city is generally car-oriented and not well-designed for pedestrians, there are several walkways throughout the city.

You can take a walk around marina on the Marina Walk or enjoy the fresh air near the sea at The Walk JBR, and you can also choose to take a stroll along the Dubai Creek and the souk area.

You can also spend time in the city’s numerous of parks and beaches as well.

Despite the pavements all around the city, it is not recommended to walk from district to district because of the long distance. If you still want to enjoy the pleasant weather but tired of walking you can try out the public bike sharing system.

Bike sharing system

Before you rent a bike, you should be aware of that it is not allowed to cycle on highways, and it is required to wear a helmet and a high-visibility jacket. If you break these rules, you might end up paying an AED 500 fine.

How it works

Renting for the first time requires a registration process, but in the future, you can easily rent any bike in any city which is using this sharing system.

Once you unlock the bike with either calling the hotline, using your phone application or your customer card, you are allowed to take the bike.

The sharing system works on a duration basis; the bikes can be rented from 30 minutes up to 24 hours.

After usage, the cycles have to be returned to the official locations (any of them, not only the starting point), and the procedure ends in the same way as you took the rental bike, in addition with payment.

The public bike docking stations are available in four districts in the city including:

  • Downtown Dubai
  • Jumeira
  • Palm Jumeirah
  • Dubai Marina

Prices

The price of renting a bike vary according to the duration of the rental and it starts from AED 15 for a 30 minute trip and can go up to AED 80 for 24 hours.

In case you need more information about the bike sharing system, you can visit their official website.

Public transportation

Dubai’s population is rapidly growing and with the influx of thousands of visitors each year, the government has made it its priority to improve the infrastructure and reduce the traffic congestions.

While around ten years ago there was no public transportation in the town, today you can choose from several modes of transport throughout the city thanks to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), launched by the government in 2005.

NOL Card

Most of the means of RTA public transportation will not allow you to pay by cash. Instead, the introduced NOL card is used for paying the fares.

This rechargeable smart card stores the credit that has to be added before traveling and the fare will be calculated and automatically deducted from the card based on the number of the travelled zones.

It works on ‘touch and go’ basis which means that you have to tap it on the entry and exit points of the RTA transportation services.

The card is available in different types and can be purchased and topped up in several places.

You can use these credit-card-sized cards for:

 

  • Dubai Metro
  • Dubai Tram
  • Bus
  • Abra
  • Water bus
  • In some taxis
  • Paid parking zones

You can purchase and top up your card at the following places:

  • Ticket offices:
    • Airport Terminal 1, 2, 3
    • Bus stations: Al Ghubaiba, Gold Souq, Jebel Ali and Sabkha bus stations
  • Ticket vending machines:
    • all the metro stations
    • at the major bus stops and stations
  • Authorized sales agents:
    • Locations in Carrefour: Deira City Centre, Mall of the Emirates, Shindagha
    • 20 Locations in Redha Al-Ansari Exchange
    • 18 locations in Spinneys
    • Waitrose, Dubai Marina Mall
    • City Group
    • Grand City Mall
    • Lulu International Exchange LLC
  • RTA Customer Service Centers:
    • Al Awir License Branch
    • Al Barsha License Branch
    • Al Karama License Branch
    • Al Towar License Branch
    • Aswaq Mezher License Branch
    • Customer Service Main Office
    • Dubai Industrial City License
    • Licensing Department Deira
    • Jumeirah Plaza
  • Online: www.nol.ae

Types of NOL card

There are four types of NOL cards available:

Red

  • It is a paper ticket which can be loaded up to 10 trips or 5 daily passes.
  • Beneficial for: tourists and occasional travelers.
  • It can be used on metro, tram, bus, abra and water bus; but only on one mode of transportation at a time.
  • Validity: 90 days.
  • The cost of the ticket: AED 2.
  • Minimum balance to start a journey: 1 trip or 1 daily pass.
  • Where to buy: ticket offices and some of the ticket vending machines.
  • Where to top up: ticket vending machines.

Blue

  • It is a personalized card with the user’s photo and it can hold up to AED 500.
  • Beneficial for: frequent travelers (only for residents).
  • It can be used on metro, tram, bus, water bus, and parking.
  • Validity: 5 years.
  • The cost of the card: AED 70 for standard and AED 80 for gold class (added value on card: AED 20).
  • Minimum balance to start a journey: AED 7.5.
  • Where to buy: ticket offices, online.
  • Where to top up: ticket offices, ticket vending machines, authorized sales agents, RTA Customer Service Centers, online

Silver

  • It is an anonymous card which can be loaded up to AED 500.
  • Beneficial for: casual users and occasional travelers.
  • It can be used on metro, tram, bus, water bus, and parking.
  • Validity: 5 years.
  • The cost of the card: AED 25 (added value on card: AED 19).
  • Minimum balance to start a journey: AED 7.5.
  • Where to buy: ticket offices, some of the ticket vending machines, authorized sales agents, RTA Customer Service Centers.
  • Where to top up: ticket offices, ticket vending machines, authorized sales agents, RTA Customer Service Centers, online.

Gold

  • It is a smart card which can hold up to AED 500.
  • Beneficial for: the ones preferring gold class cabins.
  • It can be used on metro, tram, bus, water bus, and parking.
  • Validity: 5 years.
  • The cost of the card: AED 25 (added value on card: AED 19).
  • Minimum balance to start a journey: AED 7.5.
  • Where to buy: ticket offices.
  • Where to top up: ticket offices, ticket vending machines, authorized sales agents, RTA Customer Service Centers, online.
Gold Nol Card
Uses of Nol Cards

Remarks:

 

  • T1: journey within 1 zone or less than 3 kilometers (crossing 2 zones).
  • T2: single trip starts in one zone and ends in the neighboring one.
  • T3: journey crosses more than 2 zones.
  • Time allowed between transfers: 30 minutes.
  • Single trip maximum transfers: 3.
  • 50% discount is applicable only for residents in the status of being students (age from 5 to 23 years), seniors or physically challenged.
  • Children below the age of 5 and the height of 9 cm can travel for free without a card.
  • One-day pass is available only for Red ticket holders.
  • 30, 90, 365-day passes are available only for Blue card holders (only for residents).
  • Tourists and visitors can use Red ticket, Silver or Gold card.
  • These prices are applicable on metro, bus and tram. Abra, water bus, taxi and parking have different pricing which is mentioned in the related chapters.

How to use the NOL card?

  1. Choose (red, blue, silver, gold) and purchase the right card.
  2. Top up your card with the required amount (see chart above).
  3. Approach the entry gate/entrance and place the card on the reader.
  4. Pass through the gate/entrance after getting the beep sound or the green light.
  5. Finish your journey by placing your NOL card at the exit gate/exit door.
  6. The machine will then show you the cost of your trip and the remaining balance on your card.
  7. You can pass through the gate/door once you get the beep sound or the green light.
Nol Gate
Nol Card Scanner
Nol Scanner in Dubai's Bus

If you wish to know more about NOL cards, please visit their official website by clicking here.

Metro to taxi

Taxi pick up and drop off zones are present close to the metro stations.

Metro to car

There are three large multi-level car parking available for the passengers to park their car and ride the metro. These parking lots can be found at the following stations:

 Line                        Station                                                                                Capacity

Red Line                 Rashidiya metro station                                                   2700 cars

Red Line                  Nakheel Harbour and Tower metro station                 3000 cars

Green Line              Etisalat metro station                                                       2300 cars

The parking is free of cost for the metro users.

Metro to flight

The Dubai Metro (Red Line) even connects to the Dubai International Airport: at Airport Terminal 3 and Airport Terminal 1 stations.

Timing

The Dubai Metro operates seven days a week. From Saturday to Wednesday trains run from 5:30 AM to 12:00 AM-midnight on the Red Line and from 5:50 AM to 12:00 AM-midnight on the Green Line.

On Thursday, the opening hours are the same, but the metro operates till late night, 1:00 AM on both lines while the opening hours change to 10:00 AM and trains run till late night, 1:00 AM on Friday.

Passengers do not have to wait for trains for a long time even if they do not have a timetable because the trains arrive to stations quite frequently.

Trains run every 4 minutes during peak time (on weekdays: 6:30-8:30 AM, 12:30-2:00 PM, 5:30-9:00 PM), and every 7 minutes during off-peak hours.

The average travel time between stations is 60-90 seconds with 20-30 seconds of stopping time at each station.

The entire journey from the first to the last station on the Red Line takes around 1 hour and 10 minutes while it takes around 40 minutes on the Green Line.

Fares

The Dubai Metro is under the control of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), therefore, cash is not accepted while using the metro, instead, the NOL card has to be used by passengers to check in and check out at the gates of the stations.

This smart card has to be purchased and topped up with at least the minimum amount before traveling by public transportation.

They are available at ticket offices and ticket vending machines. Before you choose from different types of cards, please consider the following things:

  • tourists can have only Red, Silver or Gold NOL Card; the Blue card is available only for residents
  • the NOL Red Ticket is ideal for tourists and occasional travelers but can be used only on one mode of transport at a time and has a maximum validity of 90 days
  • NOL cards (Silver and Gold) are ideal for frequent travelers, but it is also recommended for visitors in case of a wish to use different means of transportation during their stay (it is valid for five years)
  • the fare is calculated according to the number of zones crossed during the trip and the type of the card (travelling within a zone can cost AED 3 with Red Ticket, AED 4 with Silver and AED 6 with Gold Card while a journey within 3 zones can go up to AED 8.5 with Red Ticket, AED 7.5 with Silver and AED 15 with Gold Card)

The NOL Red Ticket and NOL Cards can be used on metro, tram, bus, water bus and paid parking.

All you need to do is to place the card on the reader at the entry gate or entrance door when hopping on and repeat the same procedure at the exit gate or exit door when hopping off the vehicle.

The fare will be automatically deducted from your ticket/card based on the number of zones crossed during the journey. In case you forget to check out, the maximum fare will be charged.

The balance of your ticket/card is shown on the reader when checking in or out but can be monitored in vending machines and ticket offices as well.

Passengers can use the metro and bus with the same fare and not charged more in case they can get on the bus within 30 minutes and vice versa. Children below the age of 5 or less than 90 centimeters can travel for free.

If you wish to know more about NOL cards, fares and passes, please check out the related content.

Rules

In the case of using Dubai Metro the following rules have to be followed:

  • Do not push others and do give way to other people
  • Priority must be given for elderly, injured, special needs and pregnant passengers
  • Accessing and using special designated areas (for example women and children only cabin) is forbidden
  • Animals are not allowed in any means of transportation, except guide dogs for people visually impaired
  • Eating (even chewing gum), drinking, spitting, littering and smoking is not allowed
  • Resting feet on seats is restricted and will result in fine
  • Using invalid, expired or other person’s card is forbidden
  • Leaving without payment will result in fine
  • Selling or promoting goods is prohibited
  • Sleeping in bus shelters is forbidden
  • It is not allowed to carry alcohol and hazardous items
  • Vandalism is strictly prohibited

Future plans

Due to the increasing demand of the usage of the metro and the Expo 2020 the government has announced that the Dubai Metro tracks have to be extended. There are plans to extend the existing lines (the Red and the Green) further and to build more new lines.

The major expansion of the Red Line extends the existing track with 15 more kilometers (6 new stations) from the UAE Exchange station towards Abu Dhabi while on the other end from Rashidiya station to City Centre Mirdif with 3.5 more kilometers with a new station.

The Green Line construction plan is to add 12 stations, 21 more kilometers from Al Jadaf station to Academic City while crossing Festival City, Lagoons, Ras Al Khor, International City and Silicon Oasis in order to improve the transport options for the residents living in these areas.

The government also set a plan to build four more new lines to improve the connectivity of the whole city. The Purple and the Blue Line’s purpose would be to connect the two airports – the Dubai International Airport and the Dubai World Central/Al Maktoum International Airport – along Al Khail Road (purple) and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (blue). The one and only east-west running metro track would be the Pink Line from Al Sufouh (Jumeira) to Dubailand while the Gold Line is planned to link Dubai Marina to Dubailand and Dubai Creek.

Although there are many metro projects scheduled for the future till 2030, the government has already started building the lines in order to fulfill the plans.

Tram

The Dubai Tram is a railway that runs 10.6 kilometers along the Dubai Marina and Jumeira districts’ public streets until the final station at the tram depot, next to Dubai Police Academy. This mode of public transportation opened for public on 12th of November in 2014 and with its integration to the transport network, it made the nearby attractions (like Dubai Marina Mall, Jumeirah Beach Residence or The Walk JBR) easily accessible.

The tram is driven by a certified driver who has to pass the alcohol test each time before driving the carriage. The tram also has a Dead man’s switch feature (a button which has to be pressed in every 5 seconds to test the driver’s attention) to secure safety.

Features of Dubai Tram:

  • It has a capacity of up to 405 passengers.
  • Automatic Platform Screen Doors – please do not touch or lean on the door while the tram is moving.
  • There are seven cabins with three classes available on each tram (gold, silver and women & children classes), and it also has designated spaces for passengers with physical disabilities.
  • Free WiFi.
  • Number of currently operating trams: 11.
  • Air-conditioned and clean stations and trams.

Please note that it is not allowed to eat, drink or smoke inside the tram and remain seated until the tram stops at the station.

Stations

Currently, there are 11 air-conditioned stations served by the tram.

These are the following:

  • Jumeirah Beach Residence 1 station – first station of the tram network, and close to attractions like The Walk JBR and Jumeirah Beach Residence
  • Jumeirah Beach Residence 2 station – it is also easy access to the Jumeirah Beach Residence and The Walk JBR
  • Jumeirah Lakes Towers station – this station links to the red line metro
  • Dubai Marina Mall station – closest station to Dubai Marina Mall and easy access to Marina Walk and the water taxi station
  • Dubai Marina station – this station is another link to the red line metro
  • Marina Towers station – located in the heart of Dubai Marina
  • Mina Al Seyahi station
  • Media City station
  • Palm Jumeirah station – this station connects to the monorail and has a multi-level parking lot
  • Knowledge Village station
  • Al Sufouh station – last station of Phase I tramway

There are several interchange stations available through the tram track. The tram connects to the red line metro at two stations: at Dubai Marina tram station (the metro station name is: DAMAC) and at Jumeirah Lakes Towers station.

The tramway also links to the Palm Jumeirah monorail at the Palm Jumeirah tram station (the monorail station name is: Gateway). The one and only dedicated multi-level parking area through the tram track is also available at this station.

Footbridges have been constructed for the pedestrians to provide safe connectivity between the tram and metro, and the tram and monorail stations.

Most of the tram stations are within walking distance of the nearest bus stop and have easy access to the taxis as well.

Timing

The Dubai Tram operates 19 hours daily (except Friday – 16 hours). It runs every 6 minutes from 6:30 AM in the early morning to 1:30 AM late night from Saturday to Thursday and from 9:00 AM to 1:30 AM on Friday.

The entire round journey takes 42 minutes.

Fares

Since the tram is owned by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), the payment system is similar to the one used on metro or bus. The fares must be paid by the NOL card so do not forget to purchase one and to scan your card at the reader for checking in and checking out.

A ride will cost you AED 3 if you have silver and AED 4 if you have a red card in case of using the standard class regardless of the traveled distance because all the stations are in the same zone. The fare for passengers wish to use the gold class will be AED 6 in the case of having a gold and AED 8 in the case of having a red card. If you are interested to know more about NOL card, fares and passes, please check out this resource.

Future plans

The Dubai Tram’s construction is divided into phases. The above mentioned 11 stations served by 11 trams are part of the Phase I.

Phase II will extend the track by 4-5 kilometers with eight more stations served by 14 more trams. With this extension, the tram will link to more great attractions, like Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab or Mall of the Emirates. The completion of Phase II is scheduled before 2020.

There is also Phase III planned which will extend the track along Jumeirah Road till 2nd December Street before 2025.

Monorail

The Dubai Monorail, opened on 30th of April in 2009, is a five and a half kilometers long railway, and its track has a single elevated rail.

The monorail runs along the trunk of the Palm Jumeirah, connecting the artificial island to the mainland at the border of Dubai Marina.

The Middle East region’s first monorail is driverless but has an attendant in it for emergency issues.

Stations

There are only two stations currently open but it has two other ones built but not open, and there is a planned extension for one more station.

The mentioned stations are:

Atlantis Aquaventure station – opened and it is only a few steps away from the famous Atlantis Resort with its magnificent Aquaventure Waterpark

Palm Mall station – closed since the mall is still under construction

Trump Tower station – closed as the developments nearby are yet to be completed

Gateway station – opened and this station is the connection to the Dubai Tram at its Palm Jumeirah station

Dubai Internet City (TECOM) station – closed, planned extension to connect the monorail to the red metro line

Although the Palm Mall and Trump Tower stations are closed, the train stops for a few seconds but the doors do not open.

Even though there is no direct connection to the metro yet, the monorail is quite easily accessible because of the Dubai Tram. From the Gateway station, you can go to the Palm Jumeirah tram station via a footbridge and in case you wish to continue your trip by the Dubai Metro, the tram links to the red line at two stations: Jumeirah Lakes Towers and Dubai Marina (new name: DAMAC) stations.

In case you travel by car and just want to try out the monorail you can leave your vehicle in a free parking lot for a quite large amount of cars (1500 parking spaces) at the Gateway station.

Timing

The monorail is open every day from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM and it departures every 23 minutes.

The trip from the first and the last station takes around 10 minutes.

Tickets

Since the owner of the monorail is Nakheel and not the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), the NOL card cannot be used on this railway.

Instead, there are two different types of ticket, and these can be bought at the monorail stations’ ticket machines.

You can only pay by cash, no credit or debit card is accepted and you must use your ticket on the same day as the purchase is done.

The single (one-way) ticket costs AED 15 while the return ticket is AED 25. Children under the height of 90 centimeters can travel for free. There are no other discounts available.

Tourists often ride the monorail despite its price because they can get an impressive elevated look of the Palm Island.

Bus

Dubai’s public transport bus system is quite large and has excellent facilities.

The bus fleet consists of more than 1400 buses, connecting the residential, industrial and business districts with more than 100 bus routes, serving thousands of people every week.

There are numerous bus stations, bus shelters and bus stops throughout the city. The buses are modern, clean, comfortable and cheap.

Bus features

The bus fleet consists of 170 double-deckers, 945 standard and 346 articulated buses. All the buses are produced at the highest security and safety standards, and they have great facilities with modern features, like:

  • air-conditioning,
  • low floors,
  • wide entrances,
  • comfortable seating,
  • first few rows are generally dedicated for women and children only,
  • designated spaces for passengers with physical disabilities,
  • broad standing area,
  • information screens,
  • voice announcement of the next stop,
  • passenger counting system,
  • automated fare equipment (NOL card scanner).

Stations

Keeping with the standard of the buses, the stations are also modern and have the following features:

  • air-conditioned waiting areas,
  • designated areas and special service for women and children and passengers with physical disabilities,
  • washrooms,
  • prayer rooms for men and women also,
  • cafeteria and beverages vending machines
  • NOL card vending machines
  • customer care centers
  • parking spaces for bicycles and taxis.

Among the 2 main stations, there are 8 sub bus stations, 6 major feeder bus stations (for the metro), and there are plenty of bus stops available throughout the city. Most of the bus stops are also equipped with air-conditioned shelters. The above mentioned bus stations are:

  • Main bus stations:
    • Al Ghubaiba
    • Gold Souq
  • Sub-bus stations:
    • Al Satwa
    • Al Qusais
    • Al Sabkha
    • Deira City Centre
    • Al Karama
    • Al Qouz
    • Union Square
    • Al Jafilya
  • Feeder bus stations:
    • Abu Hail
    • Al Rashidiya
    • The Dubai Mall
    • Mall of the Emirates
    • Ibn Battuta
    • Jebel Ali
  • Intercity bus stations (outside the city):
    • Sharjah
    • Ajman
    • Fujeirah
    • Abu Dhabi
    • Hatta

There are two high-tech depots available for the huge bus fleet’s maintenance (including operation and safety check-up), at Al Awir and Al Qusais.

Routes

The buses operate on over 100 bus routes including 48 local, 31 feeder, 8 express and 11 intercity bus routes. There are also 13 central business districts service routes (CBD) and Global Village and Miracle Garden bus routes as well as SKY Bus service routes (from Dubai International Airport to major hotels).

The currently available complete list of bus routes operating in Dubai:

Feeder Bus Routes in Dubai
express bus routes Dubai
Intercity bus routes Dubai
cbd bus routes dubai