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How to use the Dubai metro?

We tell you how to use the Dubai metro, schedules, prices, what not to do are things that are better to know to visit the city.

The Dubai metro is a reflection of the architectural modernity that this city wishes to project to the world. The wagons have no drivers, everything is refrigerated, and the infrastructure is generally new. Despite only having two lines, it is better to know how to use it? How to pay? Which wagons should be avoided?, among other questions. We will try to dispel all possible doubts so that you know how to use the Dubai metro without problems on your next trip to this megacity.

Fun fact: the first phase of construction of the subway was carried out by a Japanese consortium. Maybe that’s why several of the subway call sounds reminded me of the ones I heard in the Tokyo subway.

What are the Dubai Metro hours?

One of the things to know on how to use the Dubai metro are the opening hours; lines start at 5AM until 12AM (Saturday through Wednesday), and until 1AM on Thursday. On Fridays, the metro operates from 10AM to 1AM. These are the most recent schedules taken from the official website of the RTA.

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How to buy tickets for the Dubai metro?

To be able to buy tickets, the first thing is to have a nol card. This card will give us access, in addition to the metro, to many other elements of the city’s public transport such as buses and taxis. If you are thinking on how to use the Dubai metro and its other means of public transportation in a smart way, this is a good option.

nol card types

There are several types of nol card, but the ones that we can acquire as tourists are:

  • nol silver: this card costs 25 Dirhams and includes a balance of 19 Dirhams. With this card, we must use the cars that are not designated as “Gold”. Each metro trip will cost 3 dirhams, and then you have to pay more depending on whether you change zones, for example: up to two adjacent zones the total price would be 5 dirhams.
  • nol gold: same price and balance as the silver card. With this card, you can use the “Gold” wagons that have fewer people. The thing is that with this card, all prices are doubled. If in the case of the silver card for a trip 5 dirhams are paid, with the gold card 10 would be paid.
  • nol red ticket: there is also the nol red card, with this the basic fare is 4 dirhams and the card costs 2 dirhams. Its use is more limited than, for example, with a silver card.

In our case, the card we preferred was the nol silver. Keep in mind that both the silver and gold cards are valid for 5 years.

To obtain the cards, you have to go to the selling booth, where an agent will sell it to us. Then you can use the vending machine to recharge it. Generally, in what we saw, there were no queues. Available languages are Arabic and English.

What are the Dubai Metro routes?

Red: this is 52 kilometers long and currently ends on one side at EXPO 2020, on the other side it ends at Centrepoint (department store). This is the line that goes through terminals 1 and 3 of Dubai Airport.

Green: this has 22 kilometers and is concentrated in the old part of the city.

To give you an idea of the distances, to go by metro from Dubai Mall to Mall of Emirates, the two main shopping malls in the city, takes approximately 15 minutes.

How did we live the arrival to the Dubai metro?

To enter the metro system, you simply have to pass the card through the readers and from there it will tell us how much we have in balance, while opening access for us.

Watch out for “forbidden” wagons

The indications are clear and always in Arabic and English, you just have to know that we must avoid the cars marked “Gold” (unless we have the nol Gold card) and “Women and Children” (except if traveling only women with or without children) as they do not apply to us. On one occasion, we almost got into the golden wagon accidentally.

Other subway systems where we have seen separate cars for women and children are those in Mexico City and Tehran.

Accessibility and air conditioning

The stations have, at least the ones we could see, escalators and elevators, so in terms of accessibility they are superb. We didn’t get to see someone in a wheelchair, but with the elevators, I think they were enough. Oh, and did I mention that since you enter the subway station, there is air conditioning? A real necessity in a city that has climates as extreme as Mexicali‘s.

As for the escalators, if you don’t want to move: stay to the right, if you want to walk: to the left.

Let out to enter

As a general rule, in this subway the rule of “let out enter” is applied (as surprising as it may seem in many places it does not happen like that). In fact, even the markings on the ground tell us where to line up, and it is almost always respected.

Regarding the current health issue, the use of face masks is mandatory throughout the metro system, and it is respected.

An easy-to-follow and convenient-to-use metro system

The fact that there are only two lines makes it an easy system to follow, unlike the Tokyo subway which is a huge web, it is comfortable to use, although it does get crowded at times. The only problem is that having few lines, it will not be enough (of course, depending on where you want to go). With which you always have to consider that the metro will need complements such as a taxi or bus.

We will tell you about the other transportation options in Dubai in a dedicated article.

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Olga Grijalva

Olga is a traveler and travel content creator with 17 years of experience. Her goal is to share useful information to help you plan your adventures. She has visited more than 40 countries and is excited to share her experience with you.