Dubai City Information Site

Transportation in Dubai

Dubai Metro, Cabs, Buses, Trams, Abras, Airlines

Hi Sunil here to talk about transportation in Dubai

Dubai roads are extremely busy like any major metropolitan area in the US.

The entire Dubai transportation system is regulated by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

Despite the many transportation options in Dubai, there is really no reliable public transportation system.

So I can't tell you what the most preferred way of traveling for most people in Dubai is.

But what I can tell you is that no matter which currently existing method (as of 2007) of transportation you choose, you will face a lot of traffic and congestion particularly during rush hour.

I think Wiki published a figure indicated that Dubai professionals spend nearly 2 hours on the road commuting to and from work.

Goodness - this is one of the reasons I am personally so reluctant to move there. I cannot deal with traffic. I am too impatient on the road sometimes!

When you go to Dubai you will see that the government has spent a lot of money developing and beautifying the roads. But because Dubai's population has boomed overnight, the road development is not enough to keep up with the increased number of vehicles on the road.

Ask anyone in Dubai and they will tell you traffic and congestion is their number one concern about Dubai (more so than sky high rents and property values). And here is an interesting quote from Wiki:

"Traffic congestion, the single biggest concern among Dubai's 1.44 million residents, inflicts losses of Dh 4.6 billion or 3.15% of the emirate's Dh146 billion GDP a year. The city has a car ownership rate of 541 cars per 1,000 population.

This figure exceeds that of cities like New York City [444 cars per 1,000 population], London [345 cars per 1,000 population] and Singapore [111 cars per 1,000 population]. If this trend continues, then by 2020, there will be 5.3 million registered cars in Dubai."

Very interesting. The government does realize this problem and has a few solutions in the works. In addition to developing new roads and overpasses, the government is working on a toll road system as well as the largest subway system in the world that is scheduled to complete in 2009 - the Dubai Metro.

Transportation in Dubai Option #1

Dubai Metro

The Dubai Metro might just be the answer to problems in the Dubai transportation system. The entire project is projected at just under $4 billion and is scheduled to complete in 2009.

The project is being led by a partnership of 3 Japanese companies and is currently underway. You will see all kinds of overpasses and Metro work stations all over the place as you drive around Dubai.

The original plan includes two main lines; green and blue. The green line will go from Rashidiya to the city center and the blue line will go from the new Dubai Airport to Jebel Ali. Each line is scheduled to run every 90 seconds.

Each train track is going to have 70 kilometers of track and 43 station stops. Some of these will be above the ground and some will be underground (no different that New York City or Chicago).

The government is hoping that this project is the answer to the main concern most Dubai residents have. To assist the Dubai Metro airport, the transportation authority is also planning developing seven rail systems on the ground that connects various areas within the city to the main Metro line.

Transportation in Dubai

A snap-shot of transportation in Dubai during rush hour.

Transportation in Dubai Option #2

Taxi Cabs in Dubai

The taxi system is a large part of transportation in Dubai. Whenever I am there I prefer taking cabs mostly (that is if I don't rent a car). Dubai is not very big and you can usually get to most places quickly with a cab (assuming light traffic volumes).

Taxis in Dubai are very cheap compared to most places around the world. I'd say more people use the taxi than the bus. This is because buses are used mainly by daily commuters who commute to work. Cabs are more preferred by the tourists and temporary visitors.

There are around 7,500 taxis in Dubai (as of 2007) that are operated by both the government and the private sector. The government sector cabs are cream colored and are operated by the Dubai Transport Corporation (DTC).

Private cabs in all colors, shapes and sizes. There are about 4 or so large private cab companies. Just a quick note: DO NOT ever hop in a cab with no meter. And if the cab has a meter but the driver does not want to use it, ask them to stop and walk away unless they use the meter.

Many cab drivers scam people this way. Don't get scammed! For metered cabs, expect to pay Dhs. 3.80 to begin with and then about 50 fils for each kilometer.

Transportation in Dubai Option #3

Buses in Dubai

The bus system in Dubai is also quite large in size. It has close to 200 routes and it carries around 30 million people every week (as of 2007). I¡¦m not sure what you think of these numbers but at the end of the day the transport system is not nearly as big as it should or needs to be to meet service demands from commuters.

If you are planning on taking the bus, you could be waiting up to an hour to catch one with space for you. There are just not enough buses to fit all commuters. It's a sad situation and many commuters are extremely frustrated with it.

You would think with all the money Dubai government has that it would do something right? Well it probably can, but I bet you they don't want to add more congestion to the already oversaturated roads of Dubai. They'd rather have commuters suffer the inconvenience (just my personal opinion as I don¡¦t see any other reason why they wouldn't just increase the number of buses).

Recently however the RTA did announce that they will be adding over 1600 new buses to the roads of Dubai. These are supposed to be high end buses that are comfortable for commuters and technologically inclined to function better.

The buses will be controlled by the RTA dispatch or control center. Word on the street is that you should see these buses early in 2009. Time will tell if this is the case. I have a feeling it will be delayed like most other Dubai projects.

Transportation in Dubai

No matter what your mode of transportation in Dubai, if you are using the road you will run into massive traffic jams.

Transportation in Dubai Option #4

Dubai Trams

This is what I was personally waiting for. In fact I was quite surprised this proposition was suggested quite late. I believe a good tram system will definitely make transportation in Dubai much more convenient.

The most recent word on the tram system is a targeted completion by 2011. There will be two tram lines, the Downtown Burj Dubai Tram System and the Al Sufouh Tram.

The Burj tram will go around the Burj Dubai area and the Al Sufouh will run along the Al Sufouh Road stopping by the Burj Al Arab, Dubai Marina and Mall of Emirates. The Burj system will be 4.6km or 2.9 miles in length and the Al Sufouh will be 14.5km or 9 miles.

The tram system is a huge project and is expected to significantly assist the Dubai Metro in reducing congestion in the city. Each tram will have many trains that will be 44 meters or 140 feet long and can fit up to 300 passengers each.

Overhead cables won't be needed as the tram system is designed to run on ground level power supply. In addition, each tram system will be equipped with the latest technology and safety features. They system will run 20 hours per day.

Transportation in Dubai Option #5

My Favorite Transportation in Dubai - The Abra

The Abra is a water taxi that is not as much used today anymore. It is a traditional method of Dubai transportation mainly used by the traders and merchants "back in the day".

Today the Abra is not so much a commercial transportation method in Dubai. Rather it is more recreational. I like taking the Abra from mainland to a remote restaurant somewhere on an island. It's a fun ride.

The Abra is commonly used to cross the Dubai Creek. You can use this water taxi to get from Bur Dubai to Deira and vice versa. The two stations that you need to know about are the Bastakiya and the Bani Yas Road station.

Don't let anyone fool you, the Abra ride is only Dhs. 1. Yes! It is one Dirham! But be nice and tip your guide. It is a lot of hard work rowing that taxi to the shore. Remember that Dhs. 3.67 is only $1. So please be kind :)

If you want you can also rent out the Abra for Dhs. 100. That is just around $25! The operator comes with it.

Transportation in Dubai

Transportation in Dubai


Thought I'd throw this in airline traveling for you as well. The Dubai International Airport (DXB) is where you will land when you get to Dubai. As of 2007 this is the only airport in Dubai.

It is the main hub for world class Emirates Airlines and has been renovated multiple times since its inception to turn it into a world class airport similar to most tourist attractions you will see in Dubai. The Dubai Airport is very well known for its top class duty free shopping. Make sure you check this out while you are there.

There is another airport in the making as well. The Dubai World Central International Airport will be a free trade area within Dubai and will be the located in the Jebel Ali Airport City. The Dubai government has huge plans for this airport. They want this airport to become the busiest airport in the world by handling approximately 120 million passengers by 2028.

The government is trying very hard to promote Emirates Airlines (owned by the government) and make it accessible from pretty much any city around the world. Just run a search online and you will already see this plan working. Just recently most Americans or anyone else didn't even know this airline existed. Read a more comprehensive discussion on the Dubai Airport here.

Back To Transportation in Dubai Via Road

By now you must have a good feel for the transportation in Dubai and might be able to imagine the roads there. Despite all the traffic and congestion, more and more people are going to Dubai with each passing day.

If you are planning a visit to Dubai and are interested in fully exploring the Emirate (both within Dubai City and outside where you can experience authentic Dubai), I recommend renting a car in Dubai.

And if you choose to do so, I recommend booking your rental car in advance before getting to Dubai. If you have an international license (very easy to get even if you don't) you will definitely be glad you rented a car.

Book your rental through our pre arranged partner to save significantly on your booking.

If you don't want to drive, there are always drivers available that you can hire for a short term. You can find them in Dubai Yellow Pages as well as some Dubai Guides. You can also visit Dubai chat channels to ask someone already in Dubai or someone who has recently visited Dubai for a good recommendation.

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