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There are some good public transport options across the UAE but most people travel by car, whether that’s driving themselves or using the generally excellent and inexpensive taxi service.

Public transport

It is often said that the UAE was built for drivers, but if you don't have a car there are plenty of options to help you get around.

Diverse modes of transport

The most popular form of public transport in Abu Dhabi is the city’s bus service, which has clearly marked bus stops with air-conditioned shelters on nearly every major road on the island. You'll need an Ojra bus pass to ride, which costs Dhs.80 for one month of unlimited use, or inner city fares are a flat Dhs.2. Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 features a Surface Transport Master Plan, which will include an integrated tram, rail, metro, bus and ferry system, along with dedicated cycle and pedestrian lanes across the city.

In Dubai, Nol cards are used to pay for all public transport and street car parking, managed by the government’s Roads & Transport Authority (RTA). They are rechargeable and can be used on the metro, tram, bus, and water buses, with fares calculated depending on how many zones your journey takes you through. There are currently around 88 bus routes servicing the main residential and commercial areas of Dubai, and many of the buses from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Fujairah have free wi-fi. Buses run at regular intervals, starting between 5am and 6am and running until midnight or so, and a handful of Nightliner buses operate from 11.30pm till 6am.

Dubai’s driverless metro currently has two lines. The Red Line, which runs from Rashidiyah to Dubai International Airport, and down Sheikh Zayed Road – passing the financial district, Downtown, Al Barsha and Marsa Dubai – before terminating at Jabal Ali. The Green Line runs from Al Qusais on the Sharjah border to Jaddaf. Trains run from 5.50am to midnight Saturday to Wednesday; 5.50am to 1am on Thursdays; and 1pm to 1am on Fridays. Each train has a section for women and children only, and a first or Gold Class cabin.

The Dubai Tram has 11 air-conditioned stations running along a 10.6km loop around Marsa Dubai. The RTA’s fleet of water buses offers commuters and travellers an expanding network of routes along Dubai’s waterways; alternatively, there is a more costly water taxi service – operating from Deira across to Jabal Ali.


Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai have a strong taxi fleet, and offer a choice of chauffeur services. See Useful Links.

Air travel

The UAE is well placed to reach destinations in Africa, Asia and Europe. Most European capitals and major cities have direct flights to Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) or Dubai International Airport (DXB), with Etihad Airways and Emirates Airlines being two of the key providers.

An international hub

A second airport, Dubai World Central – Al Maktoum International opened in 2011 for cargo flights. The airport, which is located at the Jabal Ali end of town, will eventually be the world’s largest, with five runways handling passenger flights too. There are also smaller airports in Sharjah and Al Ain.

Dubai International Airport is the UAE’s biggest airport. Most of the better-known airlines use Terminal 1, while Terminal 2 is used primarily by flydubai and airlines serving former Soviet countries and central Asia. Terminal 3, which opened in 2008, is the newest and most luxurious of the three and exclusively dedicated to Emirates Airlines.

Once you have your residence visa you can apply for a smart card to use at Dubai International Airport's e-Gates. Applications for a card are processed within minutes at the airport: you’ll need your passport with residence visa, and the process will involve being fingerprinted and photographed. The e-Gate card costs Dhs.200 and is valid for two years; however, you can now activate the e-Gate service on your Resident ID and pay just Dhs.150 for two years. Alternatively, all holders of modern passports with barcodes, including children above the age of seven, can use the new e-Gate service.