Metro, Tram, abra and bus – however you choose to get around Dubai, our essential guide makes it easy.
Words by Ayush Narayanan
Did you know that Dubai holds the Guinness World Record for being the longest driverless metro line? The city also boasts an extensive bus network, marine transport and the Tram. Here’s how to use them all to get around the emirate.
Need to know before you travel:
- You have to buy one of four nol cards (our full guide is below). These start at AED 6 and go up to AED 70, which includes credit on the card. Keep them topped up with at least AED 7.5 to travel by Metro, Tram and bus.
- Read the Metro’s rules and regulations online or when you buy your nol. Some might surprise you (such as, eating is banned).
- Got a question? There are customer service kiosks at every station and usually officers from Dubai Police too.
- For People of Determination, textured paths at all metro stations guide the visually impaired. Wheelchair users have a dedicated space in the Metro and accessible lifts.
- Keep a lookout for information and audio cues in the train and at the station
- Mind the gap between the train and the platform, and always let passengers alight first.
Pros: starts at AED 2, allows you to pay for the exact trip, disposable at the end of the journey, perfect for new users to get a feeler of Dubai’s excellent public transport.
Cons: cannot be loaded for more than 10 single trips at once, each ride costs AED 1 more than the silver card, cannot be used to pay for RTA parking, no loyalty scheme.
Pros: Can be reused multiple times within five years, access to loyalty scheme, valid on all modes of transport, e-wallet can be loaded up to AED 1,000 and used to pay parking meters; RTA taxis; fuel; entrance fee at Dubai Municipality Parks and purchases at selected stores.
Cons: not the best available option for daily users who travel between the same zones, does not grant access to the Gold Class cabin.
Pros: all the benefits of silver, plus access to the Gold Class cabin with serenity, leather seats and extra leg room, higher e-wallet limit, (and of course) bragging rights.
Cons: fares are double, seating benefit is limited to Metro and Dubai Tram.
Pros: 50 per cent discount for students, you can top-up card online, all Silver Card benefits apply, secures your balance if the card is stolen.
Cons: no discount on intercity travel, parking and purchases, student card is only for under 23s enrolled in education, processing takes nearly three weeks.
Kids under five and People of Determination travel on the Metro for free. Frequent travellers can opt for weekly, monthly or yearly passes that you can buy at Metro stations. To find out more about the passes, click here. Here’s some more information on Metro fares and Zones to help you calculate how much your journey will cost.
Other ways to get around
- Hail a Tesla– Hire an eco-friendly Tesla car from Uber. Dubai’s RTA recently partnered with the ride-hailing firm to support the Expo 2020 pillar of sustainability.
- Ride an Abra – Ride the Creek between Deira and Bur Dubai for just AED 1 on one of Dubai’s oldest modes of transport.
- Board the Water Bus – Taking RTA’s Water Bus from the Marina station to cruise past some of Dubai’s waterfront landmarks and along the Dubai Canal. For a more personal touch, water taxis are also available for hourly hire from 32 stops.
- Catch the bus – There are 114 lines, including 170 double deckers, 31 of which are feeder buses for the Metro, and they generally run from very early in the morning to late at night (times vary for each route).
Mobile apps to get you moving
- RTA Dubai App – 40 useful services including nol balance inquiry and top up
- Public Transport – top up your nol card and receive reminders.
- S’Hail – combines public transport with taxi-hailing, Uber, Careem with live-time traffic updates
- Wojahati – plan your journey with a real-time map
To find out more about all the RTA’s services and to chat with its travel experts in real-time, visit www.rta.com