Dubai: How to get around?

by Sanne

Sheik Zayed Road, Dubai

Dubai wasn’t built for pedestrians, and regular pavements are sparse throughout the city. Fortunately, there are plenty of taxis, as well as a new, state of the art metro. Furthermore, app-based driver services such as Uber and Careem are gaining in popularity and provides a smooth way to cruise the city.

TAXI

In Dubai, you base your navigation on landmarks and prominent buildings rather than addresses and street numbers. It is therefore a good idea to look for distinct buildings near your hotel and always bring a phone number to the reception along with the address in case you get lost.

There are special pink taxis with female drivers for women. They cost a little more than ordinary taxis (same rate as the family taxis at the airport), but if you feel more comfortable taking a pink taxi, you should definitely go for it. No matter what kind of taxi you take, it is considered most appropriate for a single female traveler, to sit in the backseat.

A taxi from the airport to Dubai Marina costs around 100dhs + tips. There’s an airport fee when taxis pick up customers at the airport, but not for dropping off, so you’ll probably notice that your ride back to the airport, will be slightly cheaper.

At the RTA website it says that you can pay with credit cards, debet cards and Nol cards (the metro cards) in the taxis, I’ve still not managed to find a driver who took anything else than cash, the usual excuse being that the credit card terminal doesn’t works.

Most taxi drivers only carry limited change, especially in the beginning of their shift, so always carry smaller bills. For shorter rides I usually round up to the nearest 5AED, but for a ride from the airport, I would leave at least 10 AED in tips.

In front of the airport, there’s also a row of black taxis. These are luxury taxis and a ride is almost double the price of that of an ordinary taxi. It is not unusual that the staff in charge of the taxi line will try to convince you to take one of those, especially if you look like you can afford it. Refuse the offer politely and insist on getting a regular taxi.

When hailing a taxi on the street, the flag-down rate is 5AED, but if you make a booking in advance from the central dispatch center, the flag-down rate is between 8-12 AED depending on the time of the day. In the weekends, getting a taxi from an off location can take very long.

You can book a taxi by calling Dubai Taxi: +971(0)42 08 08 08.

The customer pays Salik, which is a road tax in Dubai, every time the taxi crosses a Salik gate. It is added automatically to the meter, and sometimes, the cabbie will suggest that you take an alternative route to avoid the Salik gates.

The big shift change for Dubai’s cabbies is around 16:00 and at this particular time, it is almost impossible to get a taxi, because the taxi drivers get a salary deduction if they’re late to hand over the car. This is worth keeping in mind, when planning your trip to the mall, Dubai Creek or any other excursion, which require you to travel a larger distance within the city, or take an Uber or a Kareem car during this time of the day.

> Visit Dubai Taxi’s website for more information and to calculate the approximate fare.

 

UBER AND CAREEM

The local player Careem and the international giant Uber both offers you the comfort of requesting a ride from an app on your smartphone. Uber is slightly more expensive that ordinary taxis in Dubai, but it works smoothly and the cars are usually very nice. My experience is that the drivers also drive less aggressively than the taxi drivers down here, making the ride more comfortable. I haven’t used Careem myself, but a lot of my friends do, and they are very happy with the services.

 

METRO

The metro is a top-modern, super-efficient way to travel across Dubai. You purchase a NOL card at one of the stations, and the card functions as an electronic wallet, which is charged after each ride. The different NOL-card ticket options include one-way tickets, day tickets as well as gold cards (for gold class) and silver card (regular class), which can be topped up as required.

There are two different classes: Gold and Silver. The Gold car is located either in the front or the back of the trains. Gold class tickets are approximately twice the price of an ordinary ticket and for this you get more spacious seating. The gold class car also doesn’t tend to be as crowded as the regular cars. However, during rush hour it’s usually not worth buying a Gold class ticket, unless you’re getting on at one of the first stations, because the seats available get occupied quickly and you risk having to stand up most of the ride anyway. Adjacent to the Gold Class car, there’s a special car for women and children only.

Even though riding the metro is cheap compared to many other countries, you might want to consider taking a taxi or an Uber instead. There are only 2 metro lines, and they only cover a minor part of the city, so after getting off the metro, you might have to walk or take a taxi to get all the way to your destination. If you are two persons or more, and you’re only going a short distance, it usually pays off to take a taxi instead.

On weekdays, the metro runs until midnight, but on weekends services are extended until 2:00. On Friday, the metro will not start running until 10:00 in the morning.

> Read more about fares and schedule at RTA Dubai Metro’s website.

 

TRAM

The Dubai tram serves the area around Dubai Marina, JBR and Al Sufouh Road, and you use your NOL-card to pay for your fare. Remember to check in before your ride and check out afterwards.

 

BUS

There are extensive bus services throughout Dubai, and just as the metro, there’s a special section for women in the front. You use the NOL card (same as in the metro) to pay for your ride, and you have to purchase the card in advance.  The busses are fully air-conditioned and so are many of the bus stop waiting cabins. It’s cheaper to go by bus than by metro, but I must admit that I only rarely take the bus, so my knowledge of bus transportation in Dubai is limited.

 

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