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A Guide to UAE’s Public Transportation System for Tourists and Its Alternatives

The UAE is one of the most developed parts of the world. All seven states and the major cities are easily accessible to everyone. Many parts of the UAE are some of the hottest tourist destinations in the world. Tourists always need means of transportation to explore the place. Luxury Car rental Dubai services are available all year. However, renting a private car can sometimes be expensive.

Also, public transport systems in the UAE are some of the best in the world as well. You get many options to get where you need. Shared public transport will always be much cheaper than renting your own chauffeur service or a car. However, public transport will not be as convenient as a private one. Below, you’ll find some helpful information about UAE’s public transport for tourists:

How Public Transport Is Operated in the UAE?

Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah have very well-developed public transport systems. The government controls most public transport systems in the UAE as well. In Dubai, you will find very interconnected public transport. The metro, buses, tram, and water buses are all linked with singular payment systems. Get yourself a Nol card and be on your way.

Smaller Emirati states including Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah, and Ras Al Khaimah will not present such established public transport systems. Taxis are found in abundance all around. Bus travel is also available throughout the UAE. Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Ajman also have transport cards available. These will only work for buses, however.

Traveling By Train in the UAE

The UAE lacks a conventional rail transport network. In Dubai, you have the metro option that was opened up back in 2009. Etihad Rail is working to provide freight and passenger travel options. Currently, only freight services are on offer.

Dubai Metro is the only realistic train service available currently. Also, it is a very advanced and sophisticated system. The Dubai Metro is also one of the largest metro systems in the world. There is a red and a green line while a third one is being worked on. It works like clockwork giving people the option to travel between 5 am and midnight on weekdays. Sunday starts at 8 am to midnight and on Fridays, you will only be able to travel an hour past midnight as well. It is one of the cheaper forms of travel in Dubai.

Traveling By Bus in the UAE

The UAE has one of the best bus networks in the world. Buses are very safe, clean, and efficient. Skillful drivers make your journey very comfortable as well. All buses and bus stations are air-conditioned. In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, there are battery-operated electric buses. These are the cheapest form of public transport in the country.

Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Ajman require bus payments to be made through dedicated cards. The Hafilat Smart Card in Abu Dhabi, the Nol Card in Dubai, the Sayer Card in Sharjah, and the Masaar Card in Ajman are used for payments. Buses are all disability-friendly and have audio-visual aids for tourists as well. Tourists can travel between states on buses as well.

In smaller states including Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah, inter-state public buses are rare. However, they are very well organized. Tourists traveling from Dubai or Abu Dhabi can get dropped off at convenient spots. Additionally, hotels in every state, run coaches that can connect with the bus network. Starting from as little as AED 2 for local travel, rates will go up to an affordable AED 8. For inter-emirate travel, the fare will be around AED 25. Even that is nothing compared to the more expensive parts of the world.

Traveling By Taxi in the UAE

Taxis are naturally the most convenient, comfortable, and preferred means of transport in the UAE. A good chauffeur service in Dubai will get you anywhere you need. However, taxis and chauffeur services will cost higher. Like the good old way, you can hail a taxi on the street. Look for the taxi sign. If it is lit, a taxi is available. Online and over-the-phone booked taxis are available as well.

Booking in Dubai is available through the RTA App. Taxi fares will be different in all Emirati states. Dubai will be the most expensive taxi travel. It’s good that Dubai also has the best public transport alternatives. Also, taxis are usually very good cars. Most drivers and chauffeurs will speak Arabic and English. Many also speak Hindi and Urdu. Card payments will be accepted and a tip is your own regard.

Note: Uber and Careem are also available modes of taxi travel in the UAE. These app-based taxi services are limited though. Dubai and Abu Dhabi have Uber and Careem both. However, Sharjah and Ajman only get Careem. Avoid peak hours and you will be just fine with these.

Other Public Transport Options in the UAE

There are many different options to travel in the UAE in addition to those talked about above. With the Dubai RTA, you get many different alternatives. Some are:

Dubai Ferry – Operating between 11 am and 7 pm every day, the Dubai Ferry connects people to Sharjah as well. There are many other stops available.

Water Taxi – Spanning across 44 stations along the waterways in the UAE, water taxis are available between 10 am and 5pn. Each taxi seats 10 passengers.

Abra and Dhow – Abra is a smaller traditional boat whereas the dhow is a bigger traditional boat. Both get you to many places. Dedicated dhow cruise trips for tourists are also available.

Dubai Tram – Operating between Dubai Marina and Palm Jumeirah/Al Sufouh, the Dubai Tram has 11 stations. It covers a distance of 14.5 kilometers and the next one is available every 10 minutes. Two metro stations the JLT and DAMAC also overlap with the tram giving passengers options to connect. It is very cheap as well starting from AED 3 only.

Bicycles – If you are in the mood for a city adventure, bicycles for rent are available through private companies in Dubai. Bicycle parking is available at most Dubai Metro stations as well.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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