How to Use the Metro on Your Trip to Dubai

Dubai Metro

 © Naufal MQ/Getty Images

You’d be hard pressed to find a more user-friendly public transport system than the Dubai Metro. Worlds apart from the maze that is the London Tube or New York City Subway, the Dubai Metro is state-of-the-art, spotless and supremely easy to navigate. Spanning 46 miles, Dubai Metro has two lines and offers hassle-free connections to the city’s bus and tram networks. For tips on ticketing, etiquette and the best stops for major attractions, find out how to use the metro on your next trip to Dubai.

Getting Around Dubai

There are just two lines in the Dubai Metro system, which makes cross-city travel a breeze. The Red Line roughly follows the path of Dubai’s main thoroughfare, Sheikh Zayed Road, running from Rashidiya in the north to UAE Exchange station in Jebel Ali, in the south. The Green Line services the areas surrounding Dubai Creek, Old Dubai and Deira in the north. The two lines interchange at BurJurman and Union stations. To plan your journey online, visit wojhati.rta.ae.

Key Stops

Airport Connections

If you’ve just touched down at Dubai International Airport, one of the cheapest ways to get into the city is via the Dubai Metro Red Line, which stops at Airport Terminal 1 and 3. Most visitors will board the UAE Exchange-bound train, traveling south to Dubai Mall, Business Bay, Dubai Marina and other key destinations.

Exploring Old Dubai

You could be forgiven for thinking Dubai is all skyscrapers, luxury hotels and high-end restaurants, but beyond the glitz of Downtown and Dubai Marina lies the beating heart of Old Dubai. To explore Old Dubai via metro, take the Red Line to BurJurman station, then switch to the Green Line for Al Ras station, near the Deira Gold Souk and Spice Souk. Take an abra (small wooden boat) to the other side of Dubai Creek to wander around the Textile Souk and Al Fahidi Historic District, home to Al Fahidi Fort, Dubai Museum, and winding alleyways filled with local artisans and cafes.

South of BurJurman on the Red Line, alight at ADCB station for Al Karama market, one of Dubai’s oldest shopping streets.

Shopping and Sightseeing

Dubai’s record-busting tourist attractions are easily accessed via the Red Line. Alight at Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall station to visit Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, then put your credit card through its paces in The Dubai Mall, the largest shopping mall on Earth. Further south, stop at Mall of the Emirates to browse luxury labels and hit the slopes of Ski Dubai. Or spend a few hours wandering among the six international ‘courts’ of Ibn Battuta Mall, a unique shopping complex inspired by the 14th-century adventures of Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta.

Note that Ibn Battuta station is currently closed due to construction for Expo 2020, so switch to the free shuttle bus at Jumeirah Lakes Towers station.

Coastal Connections

To enjoy in the restaurants, bars and hotels of Dubai Marina, take the Red Line to the DAMAC Properties or Jumeirah Lakes Towers stations. Each station connects with the Dubai Tram network, which covers Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai Media City and Knowledge Village. Beachgoers, take the tram from DAMAC to Jumeriah Beach Residence 1 or 2—sand, sea and foodare just a five-minute walk away. Palm Jumeirah is slightly harder to access—board a tram to Palm Jumeirah station, then take a 10-minute walk to Gateway Station for a monorail ride straight up the trunk to Atlantis The Palm.

Taking Care of Business

If you’re in Dubai for work, the Red Line will take you to key commercial hubs at the World Trade Center, Financial Center and Business Bay.

Ticketing

You can purchase single, return and day-pass tickets at vending machines and ticket offices in the metro stations. If you plan on frequently using the metro and other forms of public transport, such as the Dubai bus or tram, consider buying a Nol Red Ticket, a rechargeable card for trips around town. Prices start at 2 dirham for a short journey, and day passes cost 14 dirham for unlimited rides. Kids under the age of 5, or shorter than 35 inches (90 cm), travel for free.

Travel Tips

  • The Dubai Metro is a fully automated, driverless train. It’s fast, efficient and frequent—so when the doors start closing, don’t make a run for it. Instead, just hold back and wait for the next train, which will only be a few minutes away.
  • There’s a reason those carriages are spotless—don’t eat, drink or chew gum, litter, or put your feet on the seats. If you do, you may incur a fine.
  • There are special carriages for women and children—gents, stick to the other carriages to avoid a fine. There are also private Gold Class cabins at the front or rear of the train, which are off-limits unless you’ve purchased a special ticket.
  • If possible, avoid the morning and afternoon rush, when the cabins and platforms are more crowded.