Dubai Fountain
 

Getting Around Dubai

By Metro

With one small exception, a new tram service into the Marina area, there are no train services in Dubai other than the new Dubai Metro system where the over-ground stations look like giant cockroaches on a track, especially those alongside Sheikh Zayed Road. Some stations, especially in the older city centre areas, are underground.

Initially, the metro which opened in 2009, and has over 180,000 daily users, is unlikely to go where you, as a tourist, want to go. Its main initial aim seems to be getting commuters off the busy roads.

Dubai Metro

The main problem with the Metro system appears to be getting to, and parking at, your departure station and getting from your station of arrival to where you want to go. Plans are afoot to build dropping off points and car parking at stations plus feeder bus services to certain Metro stations. For now unless you’re very close to your destination when you get off the Metro, you’ll still need to grab a cab because you'll find it hard to walk very far in the heat of the summer sun.

Inside Metro Train

After you've found your intended destination from our Places to Visit and Things to Do page, relate this and your starting point to the Metro map at www.rta.ae/dubai_metro/english/first-step1, and if it involves walking more than a few hundred yards at either end, opt for a Taxi instead as walking any distance in the heat of the day is not recommended.

The transport authority is planning numerous feeder bus routes and a number of light rail lines to act as shuttle services to and from major locations in and around the Metro stations. Provided this is 100% reliable and the shuttle routes easy to understand, this should certainly make a vast improvement in the usefulness of the metro to locals especially, and possibly also to tourists, but it’s likely to be some years off.

On your Dubai holiday you won't miss the Burj Khalifa, but dare you go up it?

Purely in the interests of research our first trip on the Metro (and we've made many since then) was from Mall of the Emirates to the airport, and back again. The journey went well. Make no mistake, the Metro is a quality product. The ride is smooth and journeys reasonably cheap. The Metro is modern, functional, spotless, regular, and automatic. Although it didn’t have a driver, it did have a roving attendant who told me off for drinking from a bottle of water.

Inside a Metro Station

Consumption of food and any sort of drink aboard the trains is banned. I later learned I could have been fined for doing this! Carrying alcohol would result in a larger fine, so perhaps it’s not wise to pick up any duty free drinks at the airport if you’re intending getting to your destination on the Metro. The website www.rta.ae/dubai_metro gives a full list of things you can be fined for on the Metro, although if you're a normal, sensible and honest human being you shouldn't have a problem.

Our journey, from Mall of The Emirates to the airport, took about forty minutes each way. The views from the train are regrettably nothing to write home about, in fact some of the journey is underground anyway, and alighting at some of the stations could leave you totally lost and looking for a taxi.

As a means of transportation, because as it's unlikely to go where you want to go, (perhaps with the exception of Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Ibn Bhattuta Mall or the Burjuman Centre), it doesn’t seem to be of much benefit to tourists at present, although if it does go exactly where you want to go it’ll be cheaper than a taxi for perhaps one or two people. But things change quickly in Dubai so if the Metro system expands, with a number of new lines as was originally planned, it would be of increasing use to tourists. Unfortunately it shows no sigh of expanding as originally planned in the near future.

Inside a Metro Station Showing Esculators

To my Western mind fares are low although they depend on the distance you’re travelling and the number of zones you travel in. However it’s still a very cheap ride even if you go all the way from one end of the system to the other.

We also used the Metro to get from the Holiday Inn at Al Barsha, near Mall of the Emirates, to both Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa and also to The Marina. If you’re staying at this or any other nearby hotel, the nearest and easiest to use Metro station is not Mall of the Emirates as you might expect, but the next station on the line, Sharaf DG.

The Marina trip was about 4 stops and the walk from the station an easy 300 yards (leave the station by the Marina exit at stop 36 - Damac Properties (stupid name - why don't they call it Marina Promenade or just The Marina!), walk straight on alongside Sheikh Zayed Road, against the traffic direction for 150 yards, turn left and walk a further 150 yards downhill) to the ‘promenade’ and restaurant area around part of the Marina. It was so easy and cheap we did it three times for evening meals!

Be aware the walk from Dubai Mall Metro stop to the actual Mall is now, thankfully, in a covered overhead walkway with some pedestrian travelators to help, but it is still a fifteen minute route march.

Where to Stay and Places to Visit and Things to Do in Dubai

Important Information

Metro trains run from around 6am to midnight from Saturday to Wednesday and to 1pm on Thursdays and Fridays. At each end the five carriage trains have a section called ‘Gold’ i.e. 1st class & costing more, and a ladies only section.

The Red Metro line and the Green Metro are both now largely open, but you  can check out the up to date position and any other queries you may have about the Metro system on www.rta.ae/dubai_metro, and you’ll find a map of the system at www.rta.ae/dubai_metro/english/first-step1.

The Green line, which opened in September 2011 runs around the Creek areas through Deira and Bur Dubai, linking most government buildings to the rest of Dubai and has two intersections where red and green lines cross.

As this Green line traverses Dubai's residential, business, diplomatic, cultural and health centres it could well help ease further some of Dubai's traffic problems. It runs for 23 kilometres of which 8 are underground, uses 18 stations and during peak hours has 14 trains an hour running at 5-8 minute intervals.

Future plans were (and perhaps still are if they haven't been dropped) equally ambitious with additional purple, blue, yellow and black Metro lines originally planned, along with extensions to existing red and green lines and even links to a new Abu Dhabi Metro system. If these are still on the cards they are undoubtably some years away and may be dependent upon greater economic recovery and probably private investment. If they're ever built they will, with feeder bus shuttles, make a vast and positive improvement to getting around the city both for locals and tourists.

Metro Train

Our best advice if trying the Metro for the first few times is that it’s easier to buy your ticket, single or return, from the manned counter in the station, not from one of the ticket machines. The machines can be complicated because of various purchase options for regular users. The counter attendant will give you advice and personal service. If you're lucky there may be a helpful and chatty advisor wandering about the station ticket area explaining the system to anyone who looks lost.

To make the most of your holiday in Dubai take the open-topped bus tours with Big Bus Tours or City Sightseeing.

Also have a look at our page on the Best Ways to See Dubai - there are other transport options for most of the touristy places.

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