The Dubai Metro is probably about half the Dubai population’s means of getting to work/basically anywhere, and it’s a cheap, (marginally) less annoying method of getting around in peak times. What the Metro certainly does offer, although being busy, is air-conditioning, cleanliness and navigation simplicity that even a five-year old could comprehend.
In our DubaiMetroGuide, there’s some stuff you might want to know about these driverless trains and all the deep joy they can bring you:
Unlike on the London Underground, where 1.265 billion per year travel on 11 lines to 270 different stations, the Dubai Metro is far simpler and modest. There are currently only two lines servicing 49 stations, with an annual passenger count of around 160 million.
There are potentially two more lines set to be introduced before 2020 so as the millions of visitors the Government expects for the Expo will be able to travel to the Expo site. Currently though, we have the Red Line which you will always use, and the Green Line which nobody has ever used.
Here’s the Map:
To enter the Metro, you must get something called a Nol Card, which is based on the Oyster Card of London. This card is your licence to travel, you can buy it from the guy in the ticket booth and it’s available in four colours; Red, Blue, Gold and Silver.
This is just a piece of paper, like a ticket, which is usually what you’d buy if your car was in the garage and you were only going for a couple of trips. It costs 2AED to get one, and it can be recharged for a maximum of ten trips before it perishes in your pocket.
This one is an actual real life Nol card, and it costs 70AED to get your hands on one. It’s good for people who are old, impatient or disabled as you can get perks such as free travel, or you can top-up online without the need to queue at the station.
The Silver Nol is the most commonly purchased. You buy it for 25AED and out of that you get 19AED on the card. This will get you about for a bit. Everyone has one, and it doesn’t just work on the Metro, you can also sample the delights of the tram, bus, and water taxis (but not taxis which travel across land).
Now you are GOLD! Always believe in your Nol. Congratulations if you have a Gold card, you now have access to the luxurious surroundings of the Gold carriage. You seem important, and people will look at you differently. Sometimes you even get to sit on a seat, which is pretty cool. It’s the same price to buy as the Silver one, but journeys cost you double. For example, if you were going from JLT to Business Bay, it would cost you 5AED on the Silver card, but 10AED on the Gold. Hopefully that clears things up a bit.
The Best Stations
They are all exactly the same really, but you’re going to find there are a few which you will favour because you will be using them far more often. This is because they will be either the nearest one to where you live, or the nearest one to where you work, or maybe even the best one to get off at to do something decent. Here are a few of the best ones to get off at if you want to do some kind of social activity:
Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa Metro Station
The clue’s in the name, but then actually you could be forgiven for wondering if it is all some kind of trick as you make the 1.75km journey to get to the Mall. This journey is made easier and harder by the numerous travelators in place. Easier because they carry you along a bit, harder because people just lie down in front of you or make a human blockade as they don’t feel that you should be walking.
Downtown Dubai (also known as the “Centre of Now”)
Mall of the Emirates Metro Station
If you fancy doing a bit of skiing, shopping, eating, drinking, movie watching or going to the massive Carrefour, you should alight at the Mall of the Emirates. This used to be the main mall in Dubai until Dubai Mall came along, but still it has over 700 stores. Despite the large number of retail outlets, “shopping is just the beginning” according to the Mall’s strap line, and as well as skiing and seeing penguins, you can kick back with a vodka in the Russian Kempinski Hotel, or have something to eat in the large number of high end restaurants before going to the 14 screen VOX cinema.
This one used to be called Dubai Marina, because it is in Dubai Marina, but recently it changed its name to Damac Properties, because I don’t know why. But anyway, this one and Jumeirah Lakes Towers Station are the two that give you access to the whole Marina and JBR. You should think of getting the tram if you’re going towards the sea, as it’s misleadingly far to walk, especially if it’s hot. It is actually quicker to walk than to get the tram but who cares? At least you get to sit down.
This stop is in Bur Dubai and is one of two that connects you to both lines. It’s a bigger station than most, and is always really busy too. If you fancy a walk around Karama to buy some fake stuff, or you want to get to know a bit of the old Dubai, this is the stop for you.
Mazaya Centre (they do Indian Visas in here and have a McDonald’s)
The only other stop to connect to both lines, Union is the busiest station of them all inside Dubai and is in the legendary Deira. This area used to be the commercial hub of the whole Emirate, then they found oil and made loads of tall buildings elsewhere. Now the place thrives on attracting tourists to the large number of souks, a cheaper alternative for housing, hotels and good food than in the bright lights of the new developments. Deira undoubtedly has the character that could arguably be deemed absent from newer areas, and there are also loads of cats everywhere if that’s your thing.
Finally, an important aspect to Dubai Metro life is the etiquette or standards to which you should adhere in order to make travel comfortable for both yourself, and others.
Here is a run down of some points to consider:
Don’t pile into the carriage when the doors open, try letting the people who would like to get off, do that first. This way there is more available space for you when you get on, and they are able to leave the train freely.
Try standing to one side when the passengers want to get off. At each station there is advice for how this can be achieved labelled next to each door. This helps people walk without having to be bumped into.
On the escalators, try standing to the right. Sometimes people like to walk up or down the stairs regardless of whether they are moving stairs or not, and it’s not always so easy if people are blocking the way. This also goes for the travelators. There are signs to help understand this.
Try showering before you get on the Metro, or at least a day in advance of travel. This can help to make the journey more pleasant for those around you, particularly if it is a hot day and the train is very crowded.
Try not to listen to your music too loud. Some people don’t like to hear R&B or heavy metal while they are travelling, particularly at Ramadan where it can be seen as a touch disrespectful.
When the doors are about to close, try not to run onto the train and get caught in them. If you do this, it can mean the electronic train malfunctions or gets delayed while it tries to work out if a human is jammed in its doors or not.
If you only have a silver card, try not to sit in the gold carriage. If an inspector comes, he will probably issue you with a fine.
If you are queuing for the entrance gate, try to have your Nol card ready to scan, sometimes if you don’t have this ready, you will hold up other passengers who may have been ready to scan theirs.
If you are a man, try not to sit in the women and children section. You are a man, so this section is not for you. Sometimes the women won’t say anything but they will be very uncomfortable with you being there.
With just a few simple rules that everyone follows, the Dubai Metro could be the greatest mode of transport on Earth. If somebody accidentally forgets to follow the rules which make everyone’s life a bit easier, don’t be afraid to give them a little reminder on behalf of Inside Duabi.