In order to get around during your stay, there is nothing better than the Dubai Metro. In this humongous city that sprawls over more than 2,500 square miles (4,000 square kilometers), tourist attractions are sometimes far apart. Fortunately, Dubai has an excellent public transportation system, and you can count on the Dubai Metro to help you get around during your stay in the city of gold.
AN ULTRA-MODERN SUBWAY
The very first line of the Dubai Metro, the Red Line, was inaugurated in September 2009. This subway was designed both to regulate traffic and reduce traffic jams, but also to reduce the pollution level of the city. The Green Line was put into service in September 2011, and these two lines, which at the time had a total of 4 stations, have been constantly evolving ever since.
Up until 2016, the Dubai Metro remained the longest driverless subway in the world, before being overtaken by the Singapore Metro. However, the 32 miles long Red Line (52 km) remains the longest automatic line in the world.
In July 2020, a 9.3 miles extension (15 km) was inaugurated. Since then, the red line has 7 additional stations.
50 new trains were also put into service at this time. They feature wide aisles, an innovative electric braking system and numerous advances in environmental protection and energy reduction.
Dubai's rail network is also complemented by the presence of a streetcar, which was inaugurated in 2014, as well as by the Palm Jumeirah monorail, which has served the entire artificial archipelago since 2009 and connects directly with the red line.
THE TWO LINES OF THE DUBAI METRO
The Dubai Metro network is divided into 2 lines:
- The Red Line, which is the main line. It starts near Dubai International Airport at Rashidiya and runs north-south through Dubai to Jebel Ali. Among the most notable stations on this line are Emirates Towers, Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Marina.
- The Green Line, which consists of 20 stations, runs for almost 22 km through all the most touristic areas and points of interest located in the Deira and Bur Dubai districts.
As for connections, these two lines meet at Union Square and Bur Juman stations. You can find a complete map directly on the RTA website.
DUBAI METRO OPERATING HOURS
The Red Line subway runs from 5:00 a.m. to midnight from Saturday to Wednesday. On Thursdays, it runs from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., and on Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.
The Green Line subway runs from 5:30 a.m. to midnight Saturday through Wednesday, from 5:30 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. on Thursday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. on Friday.
THE DIFFERENT TRANSPORT TICKETS
In order to use the Dubai Metro, you will need a NOL Card. This easily rechargeable smart card will allow you to use not only the subway, but also the other public transport available on the Dubai RTA network: buses, streetcars and water buses.
You will have to choose the ticket that best suits your needs among these 4 different NOL cards:
- The NOL Red Ticket is in fact a simple non-refillable ticket that will allow you to have, according to your choice: a single trip, 10 single trips, or 5 unlimited tickets valid for one day. With this Red Ticket, you will have to choose only one type of vehicle, and you will not be able to use both the metro and the bus. This ticket expires after 90 days.
- The NOL Silver Card is a smart card. It can be used on the entire Dubai network, including all vehicles. The card is available for an initial fee of AED 25 (about $7.80). The card itself costs AED 6, and it will be loaded with AED 19 of credit. The card can then be loaded at will, up to a limit of AED 5,000 ($1,360). It is valid for 5 years.
- The NOL Gold Card has the same operating principle and the same characteristics as the Silver Card, but it also allows privileged access to the Gold Class compartments for just twice the price.
- The NOL Blue Card has the same characteristics as the previous cards, but is intended for residents of Dubai only. The card features a photo of the user.
To buy or recharge your NOL Card, you can go to the automatic machines that you will find upon arrival at the airport, and which are also found in all subway and bus stations.
This card is contactless, and to validate your trip you will only have to pass it in front of the terminals that you will find at the entrance and exit of a station. A green light will indicate that your trip has been validated, and the doors will open in front of you. If the door is open in front of you when you leave the station, don't forget to still validate your trip (otherwise you will have to pay the maximum price).
The cost of your trip will then be calculated automatically and the corresponding amount will be deducted from the credit available on your card. In order to pass through a gate, your NOL Card will need to have at least AED 7.5 ($2.05) in transportation credits.
TRIP COSTS WITH THE DUBAI METRO
Depending on the area of Dubai you are traveling through, the price will vary. If you are traveling within a single zone, the fare will generally be AED 3 ($0.82 or €0.66). For a trip with the Red Ticket NOL, the prices will be slightly higher: therefore this ticket will only be interesting for you financially if you plan to only make a few trips during your stay in Dubai.
DUBAI FARE ZONES
The city is divided into a total of 7 different fare zones. Within each of these geographical zones, public transport prices differ. The Red Line of the Dubai Metro runs through zones 1, 2, 5 and 6. The green line runs through zones 5 and 6 only. These areas contain most of the city's best-known landmarks and tourist attractions, but the other areas are also accessible by bus, streetcar and waterbus.
When changing lines in the subway, you should make sure that you transfer within 5 minutes: after that period of time, your trip will be considered a new one. For a transfer between the subway and another means of public transportation, you will have 30 minutes to validate the rest of your trip.
If you follow these rules, any trip you make will be considered a single trip, and you will be billed automatically based on the number of zones you have crossed.
DUBAI METRO CLASS SYSTEM
As can be found in America and Europe in trains and planes, the Dubai Metro has compartments reserved for certain passengers. The Gold Class offers access to VIP cars. These cars offer a more comfortable seating on wider leather seats and a panoramic view. To travel in Gold Class, you'll need an NOL Gold Card.
Standard Class is available with regular tickets, and includes women-only cars and family cars.
SUBWAY FARES IN DUBAI
These indicative fares may vary slightly depending on the zone you are traveling through:
- Shorter trips within a single zone are priced at AED 3 with the Silver Card and AED 6 with the Gold Card. With the Red Ticket, the trip will cost you AED 4 in Standard Class and AED 8 in Gold Class.
- For trips with up to 3 connections max and that do not cross more than 2 zones, the fare is AED 5 with the Silver Card, and AED 10 with the Gold Card. With the Red Ticket, the fare is AED 6 in Standard Class and AED 12 in Gold Class
- For longer trips, crossing 3 or more zones, the fare is AED 7.50 with the Silver Card and AED 15 with the Gold Card. With the Red Ticket, you will have to pay AED 8.50 in Standard Class and AED 17 in Gold Class.
Remember: the prices of urban transport in Dubai are, as you have seen, particularly attractive. Gold Class trips cost twice as much as regular trips, and Red Ticket fares are 33% higher, but the basic price itself is very low.
RULES OF THE DUBAI METRO
- It is forbidden to eat, drink or even chew gum in a train car;
- Let all passengers off before boarding a car;
- On the escalator, please stand to the right to let hurried passengers pass;
- The only animals allowed are guide dogs to help the visually impaired;
Violation of these rules may result in a fine ranging from AED 100 to AED 2000 ($27 to $546).