Dubai Metro is one of the most technologically advanced rail systems in the world. It is a great way to explore the city quickly and cheaply, and in this article I will share with you all you need to know for a seamless journey. You can take the metro to easily get around the city and reach many popular attractions in Dubai, like Burj Khalifa, Dubai Marina or the Dubai Gold Souk. The metro in Dubai was opened in 2009 to address a growing demand for public transport, and it is future-proof. Actually, all modern trains are fully automated and driver-free; the cabins are comfortable, air-conditioned and equipped with Wi-Fi. So jump on the metro train to discover all the amazing places of interest Dubai has to offer.
Pros and cons of taking the metro in Dubai
- Cheap and efficient
- Best way to avoid morning and evening traffic jams
- Easily get to many top Dubai attractions
- Direct connection to Dubai International Airport (DXB)
- Does not cover several areas
- It can be crowded, especially during peak hours
Guide to Dubai Metro lines
The Dubai subway system spans almost 90 km, and there are more than 50 stations in total on two lines — the Red metro line and the Green metro line. Most recently, due to the opening of the World Expo 2020, the route of the Red line was extended by 15 km (Route 2020).
In the near future, there are also plans to extend the Red line to Al Maktoum International Airport, to bring the number of stations to 69 by 2025 and the total route distance to 221 km. There are plans to add Blue, Pink and Gold lines to the network that will connect more areas of the city.
The Red line runs mostly above ground, while the Green line runs mostly underground. All metro stations have a name in English and Arabic, plus a corresponding number. The numbering on both lines starts from 11. Remember that several numbers are missing (for example, 27, 28, and 30 on the Red line). In addition, it is worth mentioning that metro stations in Dubai are regularly renamed due to sponsorships. So don’t be surprised next time you come to Dubai if your favourite station has a new name board.
Red metro line in Dubai
The Red subway line in Dubai spans 67 km and has 35 stations. Among them are such busy stations as Union, World Trade Center, Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Internet City, Sobha Realty (formerly Dubai Marina and Damac Properties) and Ibn Battuta.
- Transfer to Dubai Tram at Sobha Realty Station or DMCC Station (formerly Jumeirah Lakes Towers).
- Transfer to the Green line at Union Station or BurJuman Station.
- For the DXB airport, get off at Airport Terminal 1 or Airport Terminal 3 stations.
Green metro line in Dubai
The Green subway line spans 22 km and has 20 stations. A journey between terminus stations takes about 40 minutes. Use this train to travel between Etisalat Station via Old Dubai to Creek Station.
- Transfer to the Red line at Union Station or BurJuman Station.
Where to change between Dubai Metro Green and Red lines
There are two major hubs where you can change between the Red and Green metro lines in Dubai: Union Station and BurJuman Station. From my experience, the transfer is hassle-free and takes little time.
Can I take the metro from Dubai Airport to the city
Yes. If you arrive at Dubai International Airport (DXB), you can conveniently take a train at Airport Terminal 1 or Airport Terminal 3 metro stations. You can get to Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall in approximately 30 minutes, to the Mall of the Emirates in 40 minutes and Dubai Marina in 50 minutes.
Prices for metro rides from Dubai International Airport start from AED 3. Read more details about metro ticket prices in Dubai below.
What is better: taking the metro or taxi in Dubai
I am often asked this question, and to be honest, a lot depends on where you are going to stay in Dubai, what attractions you would like to visit and what time of the day you will use public transport.
Using Dubai Metro is cheap, but it does not have a direct connection among others with such neighbourhoods, as Palm Jumeirah, Jumeirah and Bluewaters. In order to get there, you will need to change to a different mode of public transport, which is not the most time-efficient way for regular travels. It can be much faster to take a taxi instead, especially for groups of 3-4 people.
On the other hand, if you take a taxi in the morning or in the evening, you may get stuck in the traffic on major Dubai roads, like Sheikh Zayed Road, due to many workers travelling from nearby Sharjah or back.
I recommend using the subway in Dubai if you will be staying near metro stations or have a good connection to them. If you prefer more comfort, go for taxis or Uber instead.
Dubai Metro opening times
The subway system in Dubai has efficient working hours, which are extended on Friday nights due to many people going out.
|Monday to Thursday||05:00 till 00:00|
|Friday||05:00 till 01:00|
|Saturday||05:00 till 00:00|
|Sunday||08:00 till 00:00|
Where to check Dubai Metro timings and map
There are several ways to check the Dubai Metro schedule and map:
- You can start planning your metro journey in Dubai with one of the official RTA (or Roads and Transport Authority) apps. RTA is a government organisation that among other things manages public transport infrastructure in the city. I recommend downloading one of their apps, such as RTA Dubai or S’hail.
- If you prefer to check the metro schedule without downloading the app, head to the RTA website. Just like in the app, you will be able to plan your journey between a desired departure and arrival point.
- To find metro timings for your journey in Dubai, you can also go to Google. Type your route to see the live schedule with available options.
- Finally, you can get more timetable information at any metro station in Dubai.
How much is a metro ticket in Dubai
To begin with, you should purchase a NOL card. Once you have your NOL card, you can start using the metro and paying for your trips. The fare is based on the distance you travel and a couple of other criteria, so make sure you know your destination before you board the metro. Dubai is divided into 7 transport zones and offers several types of NOL transportation cards. Your fare will depend on the following main factors:
- how many zones you cross along the way
- which type of NOL card for public transport in Dubai you use
- which seat class you choose
- whether your NOL card allows transfers or counts every ride as a single trip
It may sound a bit confusing, but don’t worry! Keep reading, and I will guide you to understand how this system works.
Public transport zones in Dubai
Let’s start with exploring public transport zones in Dubai. As mentioned above, there are 7 in total, and this convenient map will help you to quickly calculate how many zones you will need to travel. For example, if you need to go from Dubai International Airport to Burj Khalifa, your route will cover 2 zones.
What are the main types of NOL transportation card in Dubai
Now it’s time to introduce you to the Dubai NOL card, which is required to use the city’s public transport system. There are four main types: NOL Red Ticket, NOL Silver Card, NOL Blue Card and NOL Gold Card. They have different prices and vary in terms of the benefits they offer. Let’s explore them in detail!
What is the Dubai NOL Red ticket
Unlike the rest, this is a disposable paper ticket, which counts every journey by a specific mode of public transport as a single trip. Every time you change to a different mode, it will be counted as another ride. This ticket is valid for 90 days or 10 rides and can be used for the metro, bus and tram. You can choose to travel in a silver (standard) class or a gold (first) class if more comfort is your thing. The first-class fare when you travel with a red ticket is exactly double of a standard class one.
The NOL Red ticket costs AED 2 and can be recharged for a maximum of 10 trips or 5 daily passes. What is a daily pass? Good question! You can load your NOL Red ticket with a pass for unlimited rides for a day. It costs AED 20 to travel in silver-class carriages or AED 40 in gold-class carriages.
- NOL Red ticket price: AED 2
- NOL Red ticket validity: 90 days or 10 rides
- NOL Red ticket top-up limit: 10 rides or 5 daily passes
What is the Dubai NOL Silver card
It is possibly one of the most common transportation cards in Dubai. A regular NOL Silver card allows you to pay for your metro, bus, tram, water taxi, abra, ferry and taxi rides. In addition, you can also use it to pay for the RTA parking. Travelling by metro or tram with this card, you will need to board a silver-class cabin (often referred to as a standard or 2nd class).
The NOL Silver card costs AED 25, but it will be already preloaded with an AED 19 balance, so you can immediately begin your journey. The card is valid for 5 years, and you can top it up for a maximum of AED 1,000 (anonymous card) or AED 5,000 (registered card).
- NOL Silver card price: AED 25 (including AED 19 balance ready to use)
- NOL Silver card validity: 5 years
- NOL Silver card top-up limit: AED 1,000 (anonymous) or AED 5,000 (registered)
What is the Dubai NOL Gold card
It is very similar to the Dubai NOL Silver card, but the main difference is that you will be able to take seats in the upgraded gold-class carriages (very similar to the first class). The card cost and validity are also the same, however you will pay more per ride, which is not surprising because you will be travelling first class.
- NOL Gold card price: AED 25 (including AED 19 balance ready to use)
- NOL Gold card validity: 5 years
- NOL Gold card top-up limit: AED 1,000 (anonymous) or AED 5,000 (registered)
What is the Dubai NOL Blue card
It is a personal card with a photo which is excellent for daily public transport users. One of the benefits is that your balance can be restored if you accidentally lose the card. The Dubai NOL Blue card costs AED 70 with preloaded AED 20 credit immediately available for your trips. The card is valid for 5 years, and you can top it up for a maximum of AED 5,000.
- NOL Blue card price: AED 70 (including AED 20 balance ready to use)
- NOL Blue card validity: 5 years
- NOL Blue card top-up limit: AED 5,000
Which Dubai NOL card allows transfers
All types of a NOL card except the NOL Red ticket allow transfers. Please note that you should transfer from one mode of transport to another within 30 minutes. Travelling time within one or more zones should not exceed 180 minutes, with a maximum of 3 transfers allowed.
What Dubai Metro fare will I pay for my journey
After this introduction to the public transport zones and Dubai NOL card types, it’s time to reveal the metro fare prices. Check out the table below to see the prices for public transport in Dubai. You can also check the RTA journey planner to see the price for your route. The website shows the cheapest fare when paying with a NOL Silver card.
Supplement NOL card products
Do you know within how many zones you will be regularly travelling? In that case also consider adding to your silver or gold card supplementary NOL products, which allow unlimited rides during 7, 30, 90 or 365 days. Please do keep in mind that on an anonymous NOL card you can upload only a 7-day product; for all the rest you would need to have a registered NOL card.
Check out this handy table to know more about the prices.
Which is the best Dubai NOL card for tourists
Trying to decide which Dubai NOL card to choose as a tourist? A lot depends on your plans and how often you would like to use public transport in Dubai. In any case, the NOL Red ticket and the NOL Silver card are the best options.
In my opinion, the NOL Red ticket is ideal if you plan to travel only occasionally without many transfers to other modes of transport. This ticket costs just AED 2, and you can top it up for 10 rides. The disadvantage is that the cost per ride will be slightly higher than with the silver card.
The NOL Silver card is perfect if you are regularly going to explore Dubai by public transport. Even though the card price is higher (AED 25), most of that amount (AED 19) is available to pay for your trips. The cost per ride will be cheaper than with the red ticket, and you will not have to pay extra every time you transfer.
If you are also interested in getting a SIM card for Dubai, I recommend buying a great value deal which includes a 2GB SIM card + NOL Silver card or 4GB SIM card + NOL Silver card. It is much cheaper than buying these two products separately. You can conveniently pick up your purchase at the Kit My Trip shop after you exit the Arrival Hall at Terminals 1 or 3 of the Dubai Airport.
How to use the metro in Dubai
Metro in Dubai is very comfortable and safe, equipped with air conditioning, route displays and Wi-Fi. It is also accessible for wheelchair users. You can use your NOL card to pay for a metro ride. Just check in at the station before you proceed to the train and check out when you complete the ride and are about to leave the station.
Please make sure you have at least AED 7.50 on your balance before using the card. This reserved amount is needed in case you forget to check out.
Enter a train cabin (silver or gold) that your type of NOL card allows using, otherwise you may get a fine. Gold-class cabins are normally at the beginning or at the end of the train. There is also a designated carriage for women and kids. The entrance to this cabin is marked on the platform floor. Do not worry, as a female passenger you are not obliged to travel in this cabin, but it offers more space, for instance for prams.
What are the metro fines in Dubai
When using the metro and other public transport in Dubai, please be aware of certain fines. For example, if you refuse to pay for your ride or present a NOL card, you will have to pay AED 200. The same policy applies if you travel with an expired or fake NOL card.
Carrying alcohol will cost you AED 500. For littering or spitting, you can be charged AED 100, and for smoking, be ready to pay AED 200. Being polite and following the rules is a great way to avoid any trouble.
Tips for using Dubai Metro
In conclusion, here are my tips for using the Dubai subway system:
- Check the timetable and map before you travel.
- Make sure you have the right NOL card for your journey.
- Do not forget it should be topped up with credit before you proceed to the gate.
- To pay for your ride, tap the validator to check in and check out when you pass through the gate.
- Keep your NOL card safe, as you may need to show it to a ticket inspector.
- Take a seat in the cabin class corresponding to your type of NOL card.
- Mind a designated carriage for women and kids, which is marked accordingly.
Prepare for your Dubai trip
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