Navigating your way through the UAE’s urban landscape doesn’t have to be an enigma.

Whether you’re an expat finding your feet or a seasoned resident looking to streamline your commute, this comprehensive guide to the public transportation system of the UAE has got you covered.

In this article, for reference, we will be talking about the transportation system in Dubai and some of the famous apps like Uber and Careem. 

Modes Of Transport In The UAE 


The Dubai Metro is the best form of traveling in Dubai since it offers state-of-the-art cars with the latest technologies and safety tech built into them.

These metros are divided into two categories, the red line, and the green line

This metro train connects most of Dubai’s residential areas to commercial areas so that residents can travel without any hassles in this driverless transport system.

It is also an excellent way for tourists to travel as well as it stops near many tourist attractions all over the city. The placement of the metro stations is brilliant as they are located in the city’s major areas, so you can always access the metro no matter where you are in the city.

In addition, there is a metro station right next to the airport, so you can safely and timely commute to wherever you want to go as soon as you land. 

You will have to pay with the NOL electric ticketing card if you choose to travel in the Dubai metro. You can easily get one at machine or ticketing office at every station.


The Dubai Tramway service is a relatively newer service as compared to the metro. This service connects the posh areas of Dubai together where you can find most tourists, like The Jumeirah Beach Residence and Dubai Marina

This tramway is focused more on connecting the critical points of Dubai for tourists so that they can travel back and forth with safety and ease. This tram service also aims to reduce traffic congestion as well. 

This tramway has an extensive network in Dubai, with around 11 tram stations and more on the way!

The Dubai Tram payment method also uses the NOL electric ticketing card for a hassle-free transaction! 


Public Transportation UAE 1

Not everyone can afford to commute on the Dubai Tram or Metro every day since they are a bit more expensive as compared to a regular taxi or bus service. 

Keeping in mind the diversity and income ratio of the city, the road and transport authority in the UAE took the initiative to launch a more affordable bus service in the city. 

This bus service runs on all the city’s major routes and covers a vast area, even outside of Dubai.

The fleet consists of modern buses, which are often checked for faults and regularly maintained.

The RTA offers around 1,500 buses.

By the road and transport authorities’ estimates, these buses cover around 90 % of the area of Dubai and link residents to all the major urban parts of the city. 

Moreover, there are over 119 internal lines for this bus service, which also links it to the Dubai metro and the Dubai Tram. 

These buses are very well maintained and structured. Since they offer a separate area for Women and Children, the bus area is divided in such a way.

In addition, these buses are air-conditioned and have ample seating capacity. Apart from that, the payment methods remain the same, which is the NOL electronic ticketing card. 


Millions of taxis are in the UAE, and thousands are in Dubai alone due to the tourist influx. This means that you can find a taxi almost anywhere in the city. 

There are some benefits of using these taxis, given how spacious and private they are.

However, these taxis are a lot more expensive than other commercial means of travel. So while these taxis are the safest choice for women and children, they are pretty expensive as well. 

Another fantastic thing about the taxi culture in Dubai is that there are dedicated taxis for women and children, which have a female captain to make traveling safer. 

The payment methods for taxis are flexible so you can pay either with a traditional NOL electronic ticketing card or cash and debit card services as well! 

Recommended Apps To Use For Traveling In The UAE

Uber and Careem are the most popular means of traveling in the UAE after public transport due to their conveniences. You can always call an Uber or Careem wherever you are and get competitive rates as well.

There are a lot of deals, off-time and peak hour rates and other discounts which you can use to travel with discounts.

Additionally, these apps provide a lot of security to their passengers and employ strict vetting protocols for drivers to minimize the risk of accidents and incidents.

So, naturally, these services are trusted by the residents a lot. 

Moreover, payment methods remain the same. You can either pay from your NOL electric ticketing system or with cash, debit, or credit card. 

There is another app to use for transport called Marine. This app, however, is limited to traveling through water.

Marine is an app that is more used for luxury or leisure time since you can book boat rides, yacht rides, and ferry rides in Dubai, which can take you from one place to another.

This is a great way to sight-see in Dubai as well. However, it is relatively costly. 

Dubai Water Taxi is especially very famous among expats! The mods of payment include your NOL electric ticketing system or you can pay with cash, debit, or credit card. 

Public Transport Apps


Wojhati is an app like Google Maps, which gives you a real-time map with all the latest information on traffic congestion, and plans alternative routes once you give it your final destination. 

This app will provide you with a list of travel options from different transport services, like Dubai Tram, Metro, and Water Taxi!

This app is a great way to plan your route ahead of traveling to avoid delays and hassle

Public Transport

Public transport is a must-have app if you are a resident of Dubai since this app is directly connected to the road and transport authority.

This means you can check your balance on your NOL card and recharge it as well. This allows you to keep your balance healthy while traveling and charge it without leaving your home! 

Moreover, this app also displays detailed information on the routes and times of Dubai Metro and Dubai Tram service, among others! 


S’hail is the most comprehensive version of these apps and brings all the information together. This is the app that most people and expats in the UAE prefer.

Tourists also really like this app since they get all the information in one place. 

Once you enter your travel destination, S’hail will work its magic and give you detailed information about all private and public transport systems that can take you there.

It will give you detailed information regarding the fares and times of the Dubai Metro, Dubai Tramway, and Dubai Buses

Moreover, it will also display all the rates from using apps like Uber and Careem so that you do not have to shift between apps and compare fares!

S’hail also integrates data from car rental apps like UDrive and Ekar for a variety of options!

This really makes it one of the best apps to have when traveling in the UAE!

Fares For Public Transport In The UAE

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There is a basic formula when calculating fares in Dubai. Dubai is divided into seven zones. Each with its own transport services.

The fare is calculated through how many zones the traveler has crossed through the journey, among other metrics. 

Moreover, the primary mode of payment is the NOL card, which is a contactless smart way of payment. This electric card has a balance amount and is offered in many types.

Each type of NOL card comes with its own perks and privileges, which you can use while traveling, such as the class of the cabins, etc. 

Traveling within one zone will cost you between AED 3-6, depending on the type of NOL card you use. Similarly, if you plan to travel between more than two zones, then it will cost you AED 7.5 to AED 15

These prices are a rough estimate for Dubai’s Tram and Metro services.

Ride-hailing apps like Uber and Careem have their own fare models and are a bit more expensive.

However, the Dubai Water ferries and taxi fares are a lot more and range from AED 15 to AED 40

Rules For Public Transport

There are some rules to follow when using the Dubai Public Transport System. 

  • You cannot smoke in the Dubai Public Transport Systems like the Tram or Dubai Metro. Violating this rule could cost you AED 200
  • You will be slapped with a fine of AED 100 if you cause a disturbance
  • Traveling with a fake or expired NOL card can get you a fine of AED 200 to AED 500
  • If you put your feet on the seat, you can expect to be fined AED 100
  • Dogs or Any other animals are not welcome on these public transport systems, and you will be fined AED 100 if you bring one. There is an exception for Guide dogs. 
  • Eating or Drinking on Tram or Dubai Metro when it is not permitted will get you a fine of AED 100


Whether you choose the cost-effective bus services, the well-connected Dubai Metro, or the convenience of Uber and Careem, the UAE’s diverse public transportation system is designed to make your commute as seamless as possible.

Always remember to adhere to the rules when using public spaces, and you’ll find that getting around the UAE is a breeze.

Enjoy your journey, and stay tuned for more insights!

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