Getting around the UAE

transports in the UAE
Updated 2024-04-03 08:00

Traveling through the United Arab Emirates is possible through various modes of transportation. You can travel by plane, train, boat, bus or car. The United Arab Emirates, being a modern country, has a well-developed road network, and cars remain the most popular mode of transportation in the cities.

Railway in the UAE

Etihad Rail is the UAE's railway system and part of the UAE Vision 2021. Currently, only the first stage of the project has been completed, which is for the freight of granulated sulphur. Once the other stages are completed, passengers will be able to travel within the UAE via railway, but also externally. Etihad Rail will connect the UAE to Oman. The first Etihad Rail passenger train station is set to be built in Sakamkam, Fujairah.

For now, though, rail transportation for passengers is possible only in Dubai with the Dubai Metro. Dubai hosts a modern and developed railway system consisting of two lines: the Green Line and the Red Line. It is the world's longest fully automated (no driver) metro railway network. There is a coach exclusively for women and children on each line. To use the metro, you need a Nol card or a ticket.

You can get a Nol card at one of the ticketing offices located at each metro station, at ticket vending machines (also located at each metro station), or at one of the RTA Customer Happiness Centres.

There are three types of Nol cards you can purchase:

  • Silver card - the most common card and can be used across all RTA transportation. This card costs AED 25, which includes AED 19 credit, and is valid for 5 years;
  • Gold card - this gives you access to a separate cabin on the metro and tram, and rides cost double the regular fare. This card costs AED 25, which includes AED 19 credit, and is valid for 5 years;
  • Personal card - This card is applicable to students, people of determination, and seniors. It is linked to your Emirates ID, allowing you to recover your balance if the card is ever lost or stolen. This card costs AED 70, which includes AED 20 credit.

Metro transportation is planned to be provided in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in the near future.

Traveling by air in the UAE

Airline companies such as Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airlines, and Air Arabia provide competitive rates for passengers wanting to travel within and outside of the UAE. The United Arab Emirates has several airports and airlines serving local and regional destinations. There are currently seven international airports in the UAE:

  • Dubai International Airport;
  • Al Maktoum International Airport (Dubai World Central);
  • Abu Dhabi International Airport;
  • Sharjah International Airport;
  • Al Ain International Airport;
  • Ras Al Khaimah International Airport;
  • Fujairah International Airport.

You can also access luxury flights on some airlines, such as Royal Jet Group.

Cars in the UAE

Cars are the most widely used type of transportation with locals and expatriates. You can only purchase a car once you have obtained your residency visa. In the meantime, there are several companies offering car rental services. You are advised to contact the car rental companies and check their rates as these vary according to your requirements.

Buses in the UAE

Buses are available in some emirates like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Note that the front seats are exclusively reserved for women. Some bus lines even connect the United Arab Emirates to the neighboring GCC countries.

Taxis in the UAE

There are plenty of taxis available in the various cities of the United Arab Emirates. As soon as you enter a taxi, the driver starts the meter counter. You will need to pay the amount indicated once you reach your destination, and these fares are non-negotiable. Remember that tipping is not mandatory, but you can leave your driver a few dirhams if you wish. When using taxis, it is recommended that you sit at the back.

You will also find taxis exclusively reserved for women in the United Arab Emirates. These are painted pink, which makes them easily recognisable.

Some useful numbers for taxis are:

  • Abu Dhabi, call TransAD on 600535353 or book via the Abu Dhabi Taxi app;
  • Dubai, call RTA on 04-2080808 or book via the Careem app;
  • Sharjah, call on 600525252 or request online;
  • Ajman, call on 600599997;
  • Ras Al Khaimah, book via the Careem app.

Boats in the UAE

In both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it is possible to travel by crossing expanses of water. You can use the ferry services, water taxis, boats, or abras. Abra is an Arabic word meaning boats made of wood. Some abras are even air-conditioned! You will need a Nol card or ticket to travel via the waterways, except when using the motorized abras.

Useful links:

Roads & Transport Authority

Etihad Rail



Royal Jet Group


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