Maps of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and the UAE
Printed Maps of Dubai City and the UAE
Several maps of Dubai are available with the choice improving in recent years, but it's hard to keep up with development in Dubai, and printed maps often appear dated fairly quickly. Maps of Dubai are usually available in any bookshop eg Magrudys, Borders (in Mall of the Emirates), Kinokuniya in The Dubai Mall, BooksPlus, some supermarkets (Spinneys, Carrefour) and petrol stations. A list of maps of Dubai:
- The Explorer Dubai Street Atlas, new in May 2009, AED 145 dhs. The Rolls Royce of Dubai maps is a comprehensive spiral bound street map of Dubai but not exactly pocket size. You'll risk crashing your car trying to hold it in one hand while steering with the other. Has 99 maps (or call it a century if you count maps 1 and 1A separately) including a map of The World, comprehensive street index and place index (even building names), Dubai Metro map, driving guide (including what happens if you give someone an "earfull" of abuse), directory of major places, and banner ads on every page (that don't do anything if you press them with your finger). You'd have to know Dubai pretty well to find any bits they've missed. Get one now before it goes out of date (should be good for at least a month, maybe two with the credit crunch slowing down construction activity in Dubai).
- The Explorer Road Atlas of the UAE is up to date as of June 2008 but is a fairly sizeable spiral-bound volume that won't fit in your average glovebox. Comprehensive, and AED 145 dhs. Includes basic city maps.
- The Explorer mini maps of Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, and several other cities in the region are excellent pocket sized maps for 15-20 dhs each (January 2009). And for something funky, you can get some of them printed on cloth to scrunch up and stuff in your pocket. Just remember which pocket your handkerchief is in if you sneeze.
- The Explorer Jumbo Dubai Atlas is another weighty tome and is a comprehensive spiral bound map of Dubai only (not available? June 2008).
- The Explorer road map of the UAE is a good compromise between portability and detail but is a fold out map which may not appeal to everyone. No city maps. Costs 45 dhs (August 2007)
- A good map of Dubai for general tourist and resident use is the iMap Dubai & United Arab Emirates folding map, costs only 25 dhs. Not every street in Dubai is shown which ends up making it clearer and easier to use. The iMap also has a small map of the UAE with major highways, good for navigation. There's a handy semi-3D image of the Dubai creek area showing Rashid Hospital, shopping centers and tourist sights. The list of hotels and driving tips is a useful additional feature. iMap also have maps of Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and the Northern Emirates.
- The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing pdf download map which you could print is unfortunately not available on their website anymore. It has been replaced by a memory hungry interactive version which, like many online maps, is great if you have something else to do while waiting for page loads and refreshes. The detail is still good and chances are it will be a more up to date map of Dubai than anything else you can find.
- Dubai Explorer Map box set - an excellent, if expensive (145 dhs in Nov 2006), up to date (in 2006) series of maps of UAE regions. Not as detailed as the Dubai Millenium Map for navigating within Dubai city but clearly shows roads and landmarks outside cities. Features like Jebel Ali Palm Island indicate satellite photos used for the maps appear to be from 2005. The maps oddly include locations of cement factories - is there a demand for cement factory tours of the UAE that we're not aware of?
- Dubai Millenium Map 2000 edition, 45 dhs, also has clear (but quite out of date) map of UAE and other emirates/cities.
- Dubai Explorer Map - in the back of the Dubai Explorer Guide.
- The Rough Guide Map of Dubai & UAE - 40 dhs, new in 2006, washable, rip-proof, includes new and future developments like Dubailand and Dubai World Central International Airport (JXB). Oddly, they've omitted the Emirates Road extension to Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain but otherwise good.
- Timeout Dubai - some of their Dubai guide books have useful reference maps.
- Timeout Dubai Winter Bar Map - free with their magazine sometime in October or November. Good pocket size map of Dubai with main roads and landmarks even if you're not interested in Dubai's bars.
- Dubai Municipality bus route map is useful - especially if you want to catch buses - but the guide always seems to be available "next week". Good luck hunting one down (and please grab an extra copy for us if you find one).
Overview of Dubai showing areas of purple, blue, green, grey and yellow sand
Online Dubai Maps
Several online maps of Dubai are available but they are usually lacking in detail. GoogleEarth has some reasonably up to date images which are good to look at. See end of page for external links to map websites.
- Dubai City Guide has a good collection of online maps which load fast, are clear and easy to follow, and have a clever print function to rotate the maps and print on one page.
- exploredubai.ae was a pretty good online map of Dubai but as of June 2006 is offline until an upgrade is complete.
- ae.map24.com has an interactive map of the Middle East. They also have a version which can be used on a PDA with a GPRS connection.
- The Dubai Municipality has a selection of downloadable PDF map files which show almost anything you can think of - one for petrol stations, one for pharmacies, even one for Chinese, Italian & Pakistani Restaurants (no Marauder's map though).
- The HCT (Higher Colleges of Technology) have good one or two page maps of Dubai and other cities that are useful to print out and keep. They won't show small details but are a handy reference when driving on main roads - especially if you want to visit one of the HCT colleges.
Navigating around Dubai
Unfortunately, partly due to the rapid growth and expansion in Dubai, maps of Dubai are often out of date much more quickly than is common in other countries. One of the two best maps for driving and navigation in Dubai and the rest of the UAE is the Millenium Map of Dubai but as it has not been updated since 2000, many people will find intersections, developments, and roads significantly changed. The new Rough Guide of Dubai & UAE is the other one as it's more up to date for Dubai but doesn't have the same level of detail. The Explorer road map of the UAE (1st edition released early 2007) is much more up to date but does not include city maps, however, their city mini-maps are quite useful.
- Some of the international publishers for example Michelin may have a useful map of Dubai/Middle East but check the date of publication carefully - and the level of detail. Don't expect something comparable to the Michelin driving maps of Europe, or the A-Z of London.
- An additional difficulty when travelling around Dubai with or without a map is that most people don't know the names of the roads, or know them by something other than the designated name for example Al Wasl Rd is more commonly known as the Iranian Hospital Road, and Khaleed Bin Al Waleed Road is known as Bank Street.
- In recent years many of the more significant roads were given names of Middle Eastern cities which hopefully is a good compromise between difficult to remember (for non-Arab expats) Arabic names, and retention of an Arabic flavor for street names in Dubai.
- Most of the minor streets simply have a number eg Street 20. There is not always an obvious pattern, and numbers are often repeated in different areas.
- Most navigation, whether you have a city map of Dubai in your hand or not, is successfully achieved with the aid of landmarks and a mobile phone, and in the case of visiting private residences, a quickly scribbled map faxed to wherever you're leaving from.
- For off-road driving, there are a couple of useful books published by Motivate Publishing that have been around for many years called "Off-Road in the Emirates". They also have one for Oman. Bookshops and sometimes supermarkets stock them. They're more of a guide book to some of the more interesting off-road spots in the Emirates and Oman and it would be sensible to obtain a comprehensive map of Dubai rather than rely on the Off-Road guidebooks for navigation.
Location Based Services from Etisalat
Etisalat launched this service in February 2007. Two services - "Mobile Map" and "Nearest points of interest" for Etisalat's mobile customers to work out where they are and what's nearby. Access via MMS, SMS, WAP, internet costs 80 fils per request. Send SMS request to 1333; for WAP activation send "a weyak" SMS to 1010, for MMS send "r mms" to 1010 (information from Gulf News 21 Feb 2007).
GPS Navigation Systems for Dubai and UAE
In recent years, in-car satellite navigation systems have become available. Some rental car firms have them included in their cars, and of course, you can buy cars with a GPS SatNav system installed as standard or get one installed later.
Another option is to buy GPS navigation software for use on a PDA. You'll need to install software and plug in a GPS receiver to your SD card slot. A list of possible GPS navigation systems for Dubai is:
- Dalali - Dynamic Integrated Navigation System for Dubai. A Dubai Government RTA (Roads and Transport Authority Dubai) initiative - a system that's updated from sensors under roads in Dubai. Distributor Al Sayegh Brothers. Tel (in the UAE) 800-DALALI (325454), web www.dalili.ae.
- GPS-AE sell a phone/PDA/GPS navigation unit. Web www.gps-ae.com.
- Garmin makes a handy looking portable unit called a nüvi™ which is available in the UAE (AMIT - tel +971-4-2291195) but does not appear to cover UAE/Middle East roads (as of August 2006). Web www.garmin.com/products/nuvi/.
- Informap produce the UAElocator GPS navigation software for PCs and PDAs. Web www.informap.ae.
- M-Drive - from Al Futtaim Technologies, manufactured by MobiApps, digital maps from Navteq. Unit consists of GPS receiver, two and three-dimensional maps, and 3.5in touch-sensitive LCD display screen.
- Navicore, a Finnish company produces software for GPS enabled phones that shows maps for the UAE and GCC countries. It is available for Nokia N Series and some Sony Ericsson and LG phones for 800 Dhs (Dec 2006).
- TomTom is a well known GPS navigation system for PDAs but it currently is not available for Dubai/UAE.
- Transport Hi-Tech Consultants (THTC) are based in Dubai and produce the EasyNav navigation system for UAE/Dubai on an SD card that just plugs in to your PDA. You need to connect to a GPS receiver also. Web www.myeasynav.com.
- Some PDAs are available with GPS and/or navigation software built in.
Maps of the UAE - discussion topic - add your comments, tell us what your favorite maps are, GPS navigations systems, etc
Last update Tuesday 20-Apr-2010