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Transport in Dubai

Thursday 21 March 2019 (UAE)   

Transport in Dubai and the UAE

This page under development.

Transport in Dubai - information about different ways to travel around Dubai, and costs. Guide to getting around by bicycle, car, public transport, metro, marine transport, taxi. Most of the comments in this table apply to other emirates in the UAE although there are some variations.

Public transport in Dubai and UAE - table of different public transport options by emirate and city, and public transport information.

Method Convenience Safety Cost Pros Cons
Abra Good if near stations Probably ok Cheap Cheap, convenient between congested areas of Dubai, frequent Hot in summer
Bicycle Good for short distances Ok off main roads Cheap Fitness, health, theft is rare, a few bicycle paths Too hot in summer, bicycle path obstacles (poles, cars, bus stops)
Big Bus Dubai Tourist attraction        
Bus (public) Ok if close to bus stop Good Cheap Cheap Long and inconsistent waiting times on some routes
Bus (private) Can be Random or poor Cheap Cheap, possibly convenient Minibuses might not be safe, bad drivers, questionable legality if not company provided transport
Car (private) Yes if parking available Generally ok Varies Convenient, cheap petrol Traffic jams, aggressive drivers, parking
Car (rental) Yes if parking available Generally ok Varies Cheaper than many expect, no servicing or maintenance costs Old cars might be unsafe, some dodgy rental car firms
Car pool Sort of Random Cheap Can be convenient Illegal unless registered, steep fines, RTA discourages carpooling
Drone Not for humans Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown, humans too heavy to carry?
Dubai Ferry Not really Good Medium Comfortable, good value sightseeing trip Sightseeing trip only
Helicopter Yes between helipads Good? Expensive Quick, avoid traffic jams Very expensive, need to arrange ground transport if not walking
Hovercraft Proposed between DXB and RAK       Not operating, plans abandoned?
Intercity bus Good for AUH, SHJ, less for other locations Good on RTA buses Cheap RTA buses comfortable, mostly clean, efficient Irregular and less comfortable service on non-RTA buses (Ajman, Al Ain, Fujairah, RAK, UAQ). Pickup only at start point.
Intercity waterbus          
Intercity watertaxi Proposed between Dubai and Ajman   Expensive   Not operating, plans abandoned?
Liftshare See carpooling        
Limousine Sort of, difficult to park Good Expensive Good for party in a car, showing off, luxury transport Expensive, slow going around corners
Metro Good if close to station Good Cheap Clean, comfortable, safe, quick in congested areas Friday late start, not 24 hours, crowded in peak hours
Minibus See Bus (private)        
Monorail No, only one monorail (not a pun) and two stations Good Expensive Clean, comfortable, not busy Limited service and stations on Palm Jumeirah, some improvement when connected with Dubai Tram.
Motorcycle Yes except for heat in summer Poor Cheap to medium Good for getting around traffic jams, easy to park Other road users have little respect for motorbikes, summer heat is like an inferno, airconditioned helmets not yet available.
Segway Not really except in localised areas - Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, inside shopping malls Unknown Medium Novelty factor, easy to park, quicker than walking Bumpy pavements, no pavements, stairs difficult, no airconditioning
Taxi Generally yes Generally ok Medium Convenient, don't worry about parking Some drivers smelly and bad navigators, taxi availability poor during shift changes
Tram1 Yes if on route Good Cheap Clean, comfortable, safe, no parking problems Limited service area
Walking2 Good for short distances, not in summer Usually safe2 Cheap Fitness, health, no parking problems Too hot in summer, roads unfriendly for pedestrians in some areas but improving
Water Bus Good if near station Good Cheap Cheap, airconditioned  
Water Taxi Only if near station Good Expensive Cooler than abra Expensive
Wonder Bus Tourist attraction        
  1. Not operational until November 2014.
  2. In many areas outside Abu Dhabi or Dubai cities, safety is a greater concern for women, especially late at night, and especially on their own, because there are many more more male pedestrians, even, or especially, in downtown Ajman, Al Ain, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain. Shopping malls are fine however.

Private Cars, motorcycles and other vehicles

Many, if not most, residents earning more than a couple of thousand dirhams per month have their own car. Those on lower salaries such as labourers, maids etc are usually transported to their place of work in company buses or find their own way around using cheap private taxi share services, or public transport. Some will use bicycles.

  • In November 2006 the population of Dubai was about 1.5 million people with 600,000 registered cars - rising at a rate of about 2000 per week.
  • In 2009 foreign newspapers seemed to think the car population was decreasing at about the same rate by all being piled up at Dubai Airport car park. Obviously, to anyone who has seen 2,000 cars in a car park, the journalists were promoting fiction and sensation for the sake of newspaper sales instead of doing their job (the rise and fall of Johann Hari is one good example).
Buy a vehicle - paying cash

How to buy or sell a car in Dubai - information page.

  • Advantages are that the car, bicycle, motorcycle is yours. It's a depreciating asset though so you'll always lose money buy the time you sell it (unless it's something very rare and rarely used).
  • There were some restrictions on private ownership of trucks, pick-ups (or 'utes' in Australasia), mini-buses and vans but they appear to have been lifted or reduced sometime in 2006.
  • A disadvantage is of course the amount of cash you need to stump up to make the purchase. But a loan can be arranged. You also need to pay for insurance, registration and maintenance - although some new car deals include maintenance and servicing for a period of time, and sometimes insurance.
Buying a vehicle - using finance (car loan, personal loan, hire purchase)

Car finance and auto loans in Dubai - more information.

  • Car dealers do not offer Hire Purchase through finance companies in quite the same way as in many other countries, however they do assist with bank loans - and it's sometimes easier to use the services of the car dealer in preference to going directly to a bank.
  • Availability of bank loans is good, they are relatively easy to arrange, and cost - especially for car finance - is not too expensive.
  • Car loans may be unavailable or more restrictive for commercial vehicles if they are wanted for private use.
  • Motorcycle loans may be harder to find.
  • Bicycle loans are unheard of.
  • A personal loan from a bank in Dubai is often used as an alternative to loans specifically for vehicle purchases.
Renting a vehicle in Dubai

Car rentals in Dubai - more information.

  • People don't usually consider this option when they live somewhere but it's not one you should dismiss immediately. Advantages are...
  • You're driving someone elses car while you get used to traffic and driving in Dubai - if it gets damaged, you get a new one without having to wait for it to be repaired.
  • Rental on a monthly rental is not so expensive for a small car - about 1500-2000 dhs per month.
  • You get a relatively new and reliable car.
  • No insurance, servicing or maintenance costs - if there is a problem, you get a replacement. If you crash cars on a regular basis, the company may stop allowing you to rent from them.
  • No need to sell it when you want to leave Dubai, and you can keep driving it till the day you leave.
  • Until you have your residency visa and driving license, you can't drive a private car in Dubai anyway (unless you go to the traffic department and get a temporary driving licence).
  • There are disadvantages though, the most obvious one is paying money every month and at the end of many months you don't own the car (but the cost differential between owning and rental is not as great as many people think).
  • The other main disadvantage is that renting the luxurious barge that many residents in Dubai like to own is an expensive proposition.
  • It might be possible to hire a motorcycle with a bit of searching. There are also a couple of bicycle shops from which you may be able to rent one - probably not on a long term basis though.
Renting bicycles in Abu Dhabi

Fun Ride Sports, set up by Abu Baker Al Sakaf (January 2008?), will rent bicycles for you to use for pedalling up and down the Abu Dhabi Corniche. There are 3 rental stations - opposite the Hilton Hotel (from 8am-10pm weekdays), the Chamber of Commerce (2pm-10pm weekdays, 8am-10pm weekends), and one near the Sheraton Hotel (opening Feb 2008). For one hour, cost is Dh 20 for an adult and Dh 15. Additional 30 mins costs Dh 10. Mountain, road, and children's bikes available. Tandem bikes from March 2008. Child seats also available.

Leasing a vehicle in Dubai
  • This is much the same as renting - usually a bit cheaper, but there are restrictions on mileage, and you normally take out a long-term contract.
  • It may be difficult to arrange a lease car privately - normally a lease arrangement is with a company.
  • Doubtful there are lease arrangements for motorcyles (or bicycles).
Stealing a vehicle in Dubai (this is not a recommendation)
  • Car theft may be an attractive option for some as it does not involve monthly payments, maintenance issues (on the assumption you steal another one if the current vehicle has a problem or requires servicing), large up-front cash payments, or finance arrangements.
  • Disadvantages include registration difficulties and high likelihood of delays to your journeys if/when nabbed by the cops. On the other hand, there is the possibility of free accommodation for a year or two as a result. Thieves should bear in mind the Dubai Police claim a high recovery rate for stolen vehicles (most recent figure seen was over 90%).
  • The other disadvantage is that it may cost you an arm and a leg...

Public Transport

  • This is the most common mode of public transport with fares relatively cheap compared to western countries, and expensive compared to other countries. Dubai taxis are noticeably more expensive than taxis from other emirates.
  • As of November 2006 there are just over 6000 taxis registered in Dubai (total car population 100 times that at 600,000). All of them often seem to be somewhere else when you want one.
  • 7 Days reported (07 Nov 2006) that taxi drivers were often working well in excess of 12 hours per day, seven days per week - report seemed to have been prompted by a reader writing in about a taxi driver falling asleep. In December 2005, some (all?) Metro Taxi drivers protested against 18 hour working days, amongst other issues.
  • Dubai Eye's radio show "The Majlis" on 16 Nov 2006 had a pleasant interview with a contented Dubai Taxi driver who said no - their taxis don't smell, no - they don't drive badly, no - passengers don't have to pay if the taxi has an accident, no - the drivers don't have to work long hours, yes - the drivers can take holiday whenever they like as long as income targets are met. A police report said that taxi drivers were responsible for several times more accidents than private vehicles (it didn't say how many times more km taxis travelled).
Taxi color codes
  • White - City Taxi?
  • Blue - Cars Taxi?
  • Red - Dubai Taxi
  • Orange - Metro Taxi
  • Yellow - National Taxi
  • Green - Arabia Taxi
  • Gold - Hatta Taxi
  • Pink - ladies only taxi with female drivers

Emirates Today article Monday 14 May 2007

  • 11 million passengers expected to use Dubai inter-city bus services in 2007.
  • 45 inter-city luxury buses already in service, another 125 to be delivered early in 2008.
  • Cities expected to be connected by buses from Dubai are Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Al Dhaid (Dhaid), Ajman, Fujairah (Fujeirah), Jebel Ali, Masafi, Ras Al Khaimah (Khaima), Sharjah (Sharja), Umm Al Quwain (Um Al Qwain).
  • Arranged by the Public Transport Agency (CEO is Mohammed Obaid Al Mulla) of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
  • Services from Al Qusais, Muraqqabat, Al Ittihad Square in Dubai to Sharjah.
  • Some routes launched in April 2007.
  • Abu Dhabi is tendering for contracts to run bus services by the end of 2007.
Trains and railway operations in Dubai
  • There are no trains in Dubai, the UAE, or other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries. There is talk of developing a rail network but don't expect anything to be operational before 2010 at least. Maybe 2015 is a realistic date for something to be running.
  • 01 October 2007 - Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Government Sector Development says the UAE has a 350 km rail network in planning stages which will eventually connect to a proposed GCC-wide railway network. Alstom, a French train manufacturer, says there is a planned AED 11 billion ($3 billion) trans-emirate rail network connecting Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah to Al Ghweifat (Al Ghewaifat, Ghwaifat, Gwaifat, Gweifat near the Saudi border) via Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Reported in the Gulf News.
Dubai Metro (Underground, Subway)
  • Dubai Metro started construction in 2006, first trains started operating in Sep 2009.

Water transport services

RTA Marine Strategic Plan 2020

Add route map (water-routes-...gif)?

The RTA (Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai) will spend AED 1.5 billion on 210 km worth of water based transport routes by 2020. Marine transport will service the Dubai Creek (and extension), Dubai to Sharjah trips, and routes to the Palm Islands, Dubai Waterfront, and The World. Five main routes are planned. One between Deira and Sharjah, one along Dubai Creek, a tourist route along the Jumeirah coast, a route linking the major offshore developments, and one between Dubai Creek and Dubai Maritime City at Port Rashid.

Dubai Ferry

RTA Dubai Ferry Service starts 2009.

  • Boats will be 30 meter aluminium catamarans with capacity up to 150 passengers, speed 24 knots, air-conditioned.
  • Route will be initially Dubai Gold Souk to Deira City Center stopping at Al Ghubaiba, Baniyas, Deira City Center, and Dubai Festival City.
  • The route will develop as the Dubai Creek is extended through Jumeirah to the coast.
Dubai Ferry progress 26 January 2009 (press release)
  • Ferry Dubai Project (Phase I) manufacturing started July 2008 at Dutch Damen Company factory in China
  • 10 boats under construction
  • Ferry capacity 100 passengers - 84 economy class seats, 14 business class, 2 seats for special needs passengers
  • Each boat will have kiosk selling snacks and gifts, and 3 toilets (male, female, special needs)
  • RTA Marine Agency CEO is Mohammed Obaid Al Mulla
  • Dubai Ferry to link Dubai Creek, Palm Islands, Lagoons, and water canals to be constructed
  • Four stations: Gold Souk Station, Ghubaiba Station, City Center Station, Union Square Station
  • Total cost of Ferry Dubai phase I is 300+ million dirhams
  • Phase I launch scheduled for 2010
  • Techinical specifications of ferries are: dual base aluminium hull, length 32m, width 7.6m, height 8.37m, maximum speed 24 knots, powered by 2 Caterpillar C 18 ACERT engines with 1400 hp each.
Water Bus services starting July 2007

*Water Bus Dubai - main page.

  • Service launched by the RTA (Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai) in July 2007 along Dubai Creek.
  • Four routes are Bur Dubai to Sabkha, Dubai Old Souk to Beniyas, Sabkha to Al Seef, and Beniyas to Al Seef. Each boat only operates on one route between two stations.
  • Hours of operation 0600 to 0000 (midnight) with a 10 minute wait between water buses. Sailing time is less than 10 minutes but total time with boarding, alighting etc will take up to 30 mins.
  • One way trip across the creek is 4 dhs.
  • Boats are 12 meter long aluminium catamarans, air-conditioned, speed 10-12 knots, capacity up to 35 passengers.
  • The RTA Water Bus is not the same as the amphibious tourist attraction called the 'Wonder Bus'.

Air services

  • *Aircraft and Jet charters - see Airlines in the UAE page.
  • Helicopter charters and Heli-Taxis.
  • Seawings - scenic flights around Dubai.

Other headings

  • Transport business in Dubai
  • Transport companies in Dubai
  • Transport Dubai Airport, transport Dubai Airport to city, transport from Dubai Airport, transport from Dubai Airport to Abu Dhabi.
  • Transport Dubai to Abu Dhabi, transport Dubai to Abu Dhabi Airport, transport from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, transport between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
  • Transport Dubai to Ras Al Khaimah.
  • Transport Dubai to Sharjah.
  • Transport jobs in Dubai. Transport manager jobs in Dubai.
  • Transport services in Dubai


  • Transportation in Dubai
  • local, luxury, marine, passenger, public, school, water ... transport in Dubai
  • Transport in Dubai ... airport, city, cost, map, RTA
List of transport companies ... Dubai
  • Al Ghazal Transport
  • Allied Transport
  • Bilal Transport
  • Emirates Transport
  • Fancy Transport
  • Oman Transport
  • Panalpina World
  • Royal Luxury Transport?
  • Tristar Transport


Division into public and private transport services, infrastructure, organisations (RTA=Dubai Ministry of Transport), roads, waterways, air, underground.

  • Parent category - Dubai page, UAE page.
  • Child pages - see list of transport related pages. Main ones public-transport, driving, Dubai metro. Or modes - land, sea, air, machine, muscle-power.
  • Related pages - transport in other emirates. RTA Dubai (or child). Community areas in Dubai. Dubai Creek.
Last update Saturday 13-Sep-2014.
Related pages
  • Community districts in Dubai
  • Public transport in Dubai
  • http://www.desertspeak.com/viewtopic.php?t=248 - RTA Marine Strategic Plan 2020 - discussion topic and maps.
Related websites (new window)


Abu Dhabi AUH ABD ADB, Ajman AJM, Al Ain AAN, Dubai DXB, Fujairah FUJ, Ras Al Khaimah RAK, Sharjah SHJ, Umm Al Quwain UAQ

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