Riding Dubai’s Public Transport and Going Car Free

Many years back UAE was a place where it was impossible to go out and about without cars or taxies. But over the past few years, UAE and mainly Dubai has improved big on public transport system. Rather it is now such an efficient system that people can live happily and enjoy this place without having their own cars. You can use public transport system even in harsh summer months thanks to air-conditioned bus stops and bus connectivity close to almost every residential part of Dubai.
So I decided to keep our car at home and try different Public transport in Dubai with my son and his stroller to share my first-hand experience with our Tribe. This project was also a great fun activity in itself for my son and I will highly recommend mums in Dubai to try this with your kids!


Dubai Metro

Dubai metro is a blessing to not just residents but tourist as well. Riding Dubai metro is definitely fun too, you get to see a Dubai from a different angle. Plus you can also hop on and off and visit most of the attractions of Dubai as it is well connected to all places and shopping malls. I still remember shortly after opening Dubai metro everybody in Dubai wanted to experience the ride. We too joined that crowd and grabbed a place in the last compartment, where we could see the rails! Below is the video was taken in Sept 2009, enjoy! 🙂

Almost 6-7 months back I started my ‘riding public transport project’ again, this time for my son and the results are joyful exclamations and buckets of excitement! But remember while taking your kids on public transport you need to keep in mind that it is heavily used by many people for regular commuting. Better avoid rush (office) hours. Minimize your luggage and avoid taking prams or strollers, better to carry your kids on your arms especially for Dubai Metro. There are enough ramps everywhere and dedicated places in metro, bus, and trams to keep strollers. But without them, I found it easier and your kids are going to co-operate you for sure!

Mono rail on the Palm Jumeira which is a great way to visit Atlantis The Plam is also a big tourist attraction.
Riding a metro was a lot more exciting for us because it was my son’s first-time toot-toot train ride. I opted for late morning time when it was not crowded. Ruhaan sang few songs, looked out and enjoyed a lot, recognizing bus, cars, bikes, trees, fountain etc. He liked the announcement part too.  But biggest fun was saying bye to parallel metro going in opposite direction! But when he could see the water from the metro, he almost demanded his next ride, row row boat.

Public Buses

We took a round trip by bus in my community. While riding RTA bus, my son demanded to sing “Wheels on the bus” million times, I hope we didn’t irritate our co travelers. The red button you press before the stop was a big attraction too. Dubai Metro is connected to communities by feeder buses and thanks to air conditioned bus stops, you can even use the buses in hotter months.
You can even find buses on longer routes but then you have to have more spare time as it takes much longer and it can be boring for kids. But the long route buses could be fun for tourists as they can see part of Dubai and Dubai’s skyline from a bus, especially on Jumaira road.
To use Metro, public buses all you need to do is buy a Nol card and add credit to it. So no need to buy tickets every time just use Nol card and save time while using public transport network in Dubai. You can buy Nol cards even in leading supermarket and soon the digital Nol card is coming which can make it even more convenient and eco-friendly.
Getting around in UAE by bus is very easy, you just need to know where the bus stations are. You can go from one emirate to another in government buses. Those are safer than those shared vans. I have traveled in those buses even alone and the experience was really good. Those buses don’t take too many stops like city bus and are usually direct so you can reach faster.

Water Taxis, Ferries & Abras

Riding Water taxi

There are many water taxies used by people for regular commute between Bur and Deira Dubai. But to add some more fun, we opted for the ferry from Marina to Palm Jumeira and back this time. It was a total success! It was again my son’s 1st boat ride, with repetitions of ‘row row row your boat’ song, I had to answer many more questions. For Ex. Cars don’t run in water they run on the road. Only boats run in waters (I avoided talking about amphibious vehicles to reduce confusion). Also, we can’t go out of the boat, because we’ll have to swim and our clothes will get wet. We spent a great time waving to other boats, some people even waved back from those boats. My son talked to few of the passengers and they were happy to interact with him. But the highlight of this ride was bird feeding. At the start of the ride, the staff brought kabobs and threw the pieces in the air towards birds and birds caught these pieces in the air. That was a very interesting part, almost everyone came out on the deck. Ruhaan got to throw few khaboos and he got very excited when those flying seagulls caught his pieces.

 

 

But riding Abra in the creek between Bur Dubai and Deira Dubai is a must for every visitor. We take all of our guests for that experience and they love it. If the weather is good then you can take that traditional abras else you can opt for an air-conditioned water taxi.

Riding Al Sufou tram is still pending on our list since winter, but Ruhaan sees tram from the car and calls it metro. They look similar. 

Apart from last ride (Marina ferry), all public transports were full of regular commuters. It shows how Dubai’s public transport is popular, convenient and sustainable. If we all park our cars and use public transport whenever possible, we could save so much fuel and reduce the carbon footprint.

Car Sharing in UAE

A few years back, when I was working as a sustainability consultant on one the project in Abu Dhabi; out of my social responsibility, I used to share a car with friends/colleagues while commuting to Abu Dhabi for work. That is another sustainable solution to reduce fuel use. There are many popular sites in UAE where you can find your travel buddy like on carpool Arabia or RTA sharekni service. I have many interesting memories from car sharing days, if you are traveling with colleagues it’s like team building activity. Otherwise, it’s a great way to get to know other cultures, share knowledge and have fun. The traffic jams are never boring if you are traveling with someone.

Every year in the winter Car free day is celebrated in Dubai, read here more about it. But the public transport over here has developed up to such standard that homes near metro stations have more demand. I know few people who sold their second car and use public transport regularly inside Dubai for work. Over past few years, I have witnessed how Dubai has become a more livable city and community through the development of sustainable transport.

Public transport is part of UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 11

After Ethihad rail, commuting between Emirates without a car will be even easier too. Let’s hope public transport in UAE will get even better and more and more residents will use it on regular basis.

Check our Eco Travel section here to learn about sustainable travel options in UAE and subscribe here to join our Tribe!

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4 Comments on "Riding Dubai’s Public Transport and Going Car Free"

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Well narrated.

Thank you Bazeeth! Glad you liked the post.

When I worked in Dubai for a half year, I used public transport while commuting from my apartment to the office. I can say that they have one of the cleanest and comfortable public transport there in Dubai. But I never try to walk for my work, even if it was about 20-25 minutes walk. As an example nowadays I'm walking from home to my office at Writersperhour and back home. I prefer walking that transport, I walk about 4-5 miles each day. It helps me to stay feet and in a good mood. But the only reason I didn't… Read more »

Thank you Anthony Bergs for your sharing your experience with Dubai's public transport!
Walking 20-25 min outdoors here in summer noontime is not just possible but not even advisable. So as you said, public transport is best way to commute!

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I am a Sustainability Professional. I have worked on many green building projects in the

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