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Why do UAE residents like to travel by public transport

Почему жители ОАЭ любят ездить на общественном транспорте

The transport infrastructure of the UAE, a country in which personal cars were the predominant mode of transport until recently, today is an example of diversity, convenience and comfort. The highway system, by the way, is 100% paved, is a paradise for the motorist. They combine perfect coverage, comprehensive information content and security. If you do not want to bother with the maintenance of personal transport, a surprisingly well-thought-out and well-built system of public transport is at your service: ground, underground, water. The extent to which it is in demand can be judged by this figure: in 2020 in Dubai with a population of 3 million people. all types of urban public transport transported 340 million people.

Public transport

The most advanced and diverse transport infrastructure has been formed in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.



The first subway in the Arabian Peninsula appeared in Dubai. But it is also famous all over the world for the fact that the trains in it are fully automated, i.e. they run without drivers. Two lines have been launched here (red with 29 stations and green with 21), which are built taking into account maximum safety for passengers: the platforms are completely isolated from people by glass doors that open only together with the doors of the approaching train.

Each train has three types of wagons painted in different colors:

  • pink – only for women and small children;
  • golden – superior comfort with wide leather seats, where there are usually few people and there is an opportunity (when leaving the surface) to admire the landscape from the driver’s seat;
  • normal.

Smart cards are used as tickets, which can be replenished through cash desks or vending machines. The cost of the trip depends on the distance. The maximum price of one trip in a regular car does not exceed $ 2. There are several types of payment cards in use, they also differ in color:

  • gold allows you to move in a car of a similar color;
  • blue (discount) and silver – for a regular car;
  • red – for a one-time trip (suitable for tourists);
  • blue (preferential), designed for students, people over 60 years old, disabled people (you must have a document proving the status).

There are strict rules of conduct in the metro, violation of which is punishable by a fine:

    Men are strictly forbidden to get into pink carriages, even if they are empty or he is traveling with his family and small children.
  1. It is forbidden to sleep, eat, drink, smoke, drink alcohol, chew gum in the salons of cars and at stations.
  2. It is forbidden to carry bicycles, pets, alcohol on trains (even in a closed bag).
  3. You will have to pay a large fine if you press the emergency button without reason.

At the exit of each metro station there is a stop from which buses running through this area depart. If you get out of the subway, take the bus and attach the same card for payment that you used to go to the subway, then the trip will be free.

By the way, Dubai is the only emirate where a single transport card operates (it allows you to travel by all types of urban transport).



This is the most convenient form of urban and intercity transport. Buses are clean, comfortable (each has air conditioning, bus stops are also equipped with air conditioning), each seat has a USB connector for charging gadgets, high-speed Wi-Fi is free. Buses are operated by highly professional drivers. The salons provide everything that a person with disabilities may need: special seats, tactile handrails for the visually impaired, video screens for the hearing impaired. 

For traveling to another city, it is also the cheapest form of transport. The cost of a trip from Dubai to Abu Dhabi is $ 7, the travel time is 1.5 hours. There are 122 flights between Dubai and the capital. Intercity buses are additionally equipped with toilets, prayer rooms for Muslims. If the trip is long, then during the journey the driver will make several stops in places equipped for a snack and rest. If you feel unwell or have a small child, you can talk to the staff when boarding and, most likely, you will be allowed to drink water or have a light snack on the way.

Payment is made with special cards, which must be attached to the validator at the entrance and at the exit (so the device will understand how far you have moved and how much money to withdraw from the card). The cards are sold at kiosks, shops, and at the driver’s.

In buses, as well as in the subway, it is customary to observe a number of rules:

  • clothing must be closed;
  • it is forbidden to eat, drink, chew gum, be drunk, show signs of sympathy in the salon;
  • problems may arise if you have a lot of luggage and it will cause inconvenience to other passengers;
  • you can’t bring ready-made food that smells.



This is another popular mode of transport among Emiratis. However, it is not cheap, while the travel time can be significantly lengthened due to traffic jams, which are formed more and more often in cities. Nevertheless, locals often take taxis even to other cities.

In Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, transport companies are managed by local departments. You can order a taxi through the hotline, and in Dubai through the RTA app. Uber and Careem services operate in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The latter is also available in Sharjah and Ajman. Toyota, Hyundai and Nissan cars are used for taxis. If the car is free, the corresponding sign with checkers is lit on the roof. In this case, the driver can call you, offering a taxi, this is normal. All drivers are fluent in Arabic, English and Hindi. Each emirate has its own tariffs, trips to Dubai are the most expensive.

What else you need to know about taxis

  1. The taxi service works around the clock. Trips from midnight to 6 am are more expensive.
  2. A woman can order a female taxi driven by a woman.
  3. You can pay with a card, but more often it is done in cash.
  4. Tips are welcome, but optional.
  5. You can’t eat, drink, or smoke in the cabin.
  6. If you are carrying smelling food with you, the driver will drop you off (he has the right to do so).
  7. If you bought alcohol, for example, in duty free, then you need to carry it in the luggage compartment.
  8. If you took a taxi at the airport, outside the arrival zone, the trip will cost more.
  9. Refuse the offers of ordinary drivers to give you a ride. It’s against the law. Both the driver and the passenger can be fined.
  10. If you are a woman and you are driving alone at night, do not joke and do not have a conversation with the driver.
  11. Always ask to print out the receipt at the end of the trip. If you forget something in the salon, the item will be found in the lost and found table.

Other modes of transport in Dubai

  1. Water taxis will take you around traffic jams from 10 am to 22-00. Each marine tram can accommodate 10 passengers and travels through 43 stations.
  2. A regular tram runs between the Marina and Palm Jumeirah districts, with 11 stops on the line. Trains run every 12 minutes, during rush hours – every 10.
  3. From 5 am to 12 am by water you can get to any place on a traditional wooden boat with a powerful motor “Abras”. It is both comfort, speed and exotic. The cost of the trip, regardless of the distance, is 1 dirham.
  4. There are also many bicycle rental stations in the city.



Car rental in the UAE is very profitable. The cost is low (from 20-30 dollars per day), the cars are almost new, with a mileage of several thousand kilometers, gasoline is cheap, the roads are excellent and safe, there are enough Parking lots everywhere. Driving is a pleasure: navigation is simple and clear, there are a huge number of informative signs everywhere.

Only drivers over 25 years of age with at least one year of driving experience can use the carsharing service (the date is counted from the moment of obtaining a license).

To rent, you will need:

  • international-level rights (not a plastic card, but a book with a translation into 12 languages, where it is indicated that it is valid in the UAE) or local;
  • an international credit card issued in the name of the driver (debit card will not work), which should have enough funds for collateral;
  • a voucher for rent, if booked via the Internet.

You can order a carsharing service on the websites:

  • LocalRent;
  • LocalCarHires;
  • DiscoverCars;
  • Rentalcar.

By the way, if you want to ride luxury cars, for example, Bentley GTC, Rolls-Royce, Ferrari and Lamborghini Aventador, this is also available. Rent will cost from $ 100 to $ 200 a day.

When renting a car, the driver will have to fill out a questionnaire and pay a deposit for the car (the amount is blocked on the card in case of an accident, fines). If nothing happens during the use of the car, the money will be unblocked within a few weeks. When renting, it is important to carefully inspect the body of the car for scratches, dents, other damage, to clarify the amount of fuel in the tank. All this must be recorded in the acceptance protocol, otherwise you will have to pay for someone else’s damage. 

Personal transport

Stream to UAE

This is an ideal option for those who live and work in the Emirates. It has already been said about convenient and affordable parking, cheap gasoline, the quality of roads and the order on them. The higher salaries of expats allow them to buy more luxurious personal cars than the ones they drove at home. The purchase process is simple and is carried out via the Internet or a dealership. The most popular of them are:

  • Al-Futtaim Motors;
  • Al Tayer Motors;
  • Emirates Motor Company;
  • Al Nabooda Automobiles;
  • Al Habtoor Motors.

Anyone who has turned 18 and has a driver’s license can buy a car. If a person has international-level rights recognized in the UAE, then he will not have to take the exam. He can simply exchange his existing driving permit for a local one. If the existing rights are not recognized in the UAE, you will have to take a second exam. Both options are paid.

When buying a new car, an expat will need to present a visa and an identity card . The purchased car must be registered in the emirate, which is registered in the visa. Dealerships usually help with registration.

You can also buy a used car. In this case, you will need:

  • rights;
  • ID card;
  • visa;
  • copy of passport;
  • car insurance;
  • technical inspection certificate confirming the suitability of the vehicle for operation.

How to get local rights

Driving permits are issued from the age of 18, but you can start training from 17.5. To get admission to the exams, you need to complete training – at least 8 lessons of 2 hours (in Dubai – 10 lessons). The exam includes three levels:

  • written test for knowledge of the rules;
  • parking in different conditions;
  • half-hour driving on the highway with an examiner.

Each stage is paid. If the exam fails, then the person will have to attend 2 additional classes before he is allowed to retake. On average, training in a driving school costs 5000 dirhams.

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Vladimir Sviridov
Vladimir Sviridov
General Manager RLC Consulting
With a Postgraduate Masters in Finance from The, Moscow State University, Russia. Vladimir started his professional career as an auditor of the financial sector of EY. After that, he worked for several years in senior positions in corporate banking. In 2018-2021, he managed the finances of a large agricultural holding, and is currently responsible for strategic planning, corporate partnership and financial management in the role of General Manager of RLC Consulting GROUP in the UAE.

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