Every city has its own character and modes of transportation. As one of the most metropolitan and diverse cities in the world, Dubai is no different. After spending nearly two months in Dubai, I thought I would share some thoughts and tips on getting around Dubai and some ways you can explore this amazing city.
Mode #1: WALKING
The American University in Dubai (AUD) is located in such an amazing location that often times, transportation is not needed. It is within walking distance to the beach (15 mins), to Carrefour - the grocery store nearby campus where you can buy all your groceries (15 minutes), and restaurants in the neighborhood (Operation Falafel is a great one right by our campus that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). The metro is literally right in front of the AUD campus (a 2-minute walk) and it can take you everywhere else you would like to go.
Mode #2: THE DUBAI METRO
The metro will be your best friend as auniversity student in Dubai. It can actually take you pretty much everywhere – or, if not directly to it, at least, you can ride the metro to the closest station of your desired destination, then take a taxi from that station to your final destination. It is much cheaper this way and just as easy. Download Google Maps or the RTA Dubai app, and it will tell you exactly which stop to get on at, how long to ride it for, and at which station to get off.
Mode #3: CAR RIDE SERVICES
There are two popular car ride apps in Dubai – Uber and Careem. Personally, I use Careem mostly because you can choose to ride with Dubai Taxi, which can be a cheaper option. If you are coming to Dubai, I would recommend that you download the Careem app. It makes it super easy to call a taxi and go to your desired location. One helpful thing I learned is that there is a base rate for taxis - if you hail a taxi by hand, the base rate is around 5-7 AED, but if you order one ahead of time, the starting base rate is about 12 AED - which makes sense since they had to come from wherever they were to the pickup location. That is just something to keep in mind.
When studying at AUD, one thing a lot of students do instead of walking to the nearest Carrefour for groceries, is go to the Mall of Emirates (MOE) to the Carrefour there. The Carrefour inside MOE is ginormous, much bigger than the one close to campus. It is more like a Wal-Mart (in the USA), where you can get tech & electronic products, clothes, supplies, etc, in addition to groceries. The Carrefour within walking distance of AUD is mainly for groceries (more like a Wal-Mart neighborhood market) - but it does have few other essentials like laundry items, toilet paper, etc. I would recommend this one if you are only going for a few items so you can avoid the busy crowd of the MOE.
When it comes to grocery shopping, make sure you plan out how you come back! Once, I walked to the Carrefour nearby campus, bought so many items, and then I regretted my decision because it was way too heavy to walk back with all the bags, so I ended up booking a taxi through Careem. And, remember to bring a large, strong tote or two with you too to make your life easier carrying things. Another helpful tip, Dubai also charges for plastic bags so bring your tote – to save both money and the environment!
One thing to note is that the AUD Mini Mart is the first stop for anything we want without having to leave campus: it has snacks, basic things like bread and cereal, laundry items, personal hygiene items, school supplies, some tech supplies like chargers and power cords, just to name a few. They are all priced properly for us students. This means that we can get everything essential we need from the Mini Mart instead of having to leave campus.
Overall, getting around Dubai honestly not is complicated at all. The metro was easy to figure out from Day One, and same thing with the car ride apps. The streets are highly pedestrian-friendly and very safe to walk even at night time. It is a great place to live without a car as a visiting student!