Dubai Metro’s Red Line opened in September 2010, bringing 52 kilometres of travel options for Dubai residents and visitors. This month, the 22km Green Line opens with 16 of its 18 new stations operating, along with transfer stations Khalid Bin Al Waleed and Uniion Square, promising easier access to even more of the emirate’s best views and venues.
The new Green Line begins with The Creek. Though neither this nor the following station, Jedaff, will open until later in the development, this will be the stop for creek-watching and two of our favourite hotels. A few hours in the Crown Plaza’s Belgian Beer Cafe is the perfect bribe to get your other half to nearby Ikea for an afternoon, and foodies can also alight here for Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire in the lower ground floor of the Intercontinental Hotel – the eponymous French Michelin-starred chef is a fan of Dubai and can often be found in the kitchen and out on the floor meeting and greeting guests. He’s a real charmer.
Next stop: Jedaff, though it will no doubt become known as the Irish Village stop. This popular haunt offers live music, pub grub and shamrock-topped Guinness on tap. Oktoberfest is celebrated harder here than in any other part of Dubai. Enjoy the craic! The Aviation Club next door is another Ahlan! favourite and has an amazing gym and sports facilities, as well as restaurant and a stage that’s hosted stars such as Sting.
Wafi mall (the one shaped like a pyramid) is within walking distance, and – if the name didn’t give it away already – you can find a fair few healthcare practices here too. From alternative therapies to plastic surgery, just about every procedure is performed in this space dedicated to all things medical.
Calling all party people, this is where you get off if you want to get down. Yes, this is the stop for Chi, the open-air night club that Dubai is proud to call its own. More of a shop-til-you-drop sorta gal? Then check out Lamcy Plaza, one of Dubai’s lesser well known malls, but worth the visit for its purse-friendly high-street store promotions.
Khalid Bin Al Waleed
This is the transfer station connecting the new green line to the existing red one. You’ll also find Burjuman here, one of Dubai’s most exclusive malls – this is the place to come for Dubai World Cup hats and designer togs aplenty. Light and airy restaurants on the top floor offer a reprieve from the hectic street scene outside, but that buzz should be sampled when you’re feeling up to it – you’ll find some of the best cheap eats here. Heard of Ravi’s? It’s Dubai’s favourite Pakistani restaurant – Pakistani taxi drivers come here for a taste of home. Try it and you’ll see what all the fuss is about.
Disembark at this stop to wander up the creek and take in the views. En route to the next Metro station, Al Ghubaiba, you’ll walk through the area known as Bastakiya, a historic and cultural maze of narrow lanes, tall wind-towers (the predecessors to air-con units) and sandy-hued blocks housing art galleries and learning centres. Expect to get lost, but rest assured, you can always the sky-piercing minaret of Ali bin Abi Talib Mosque for navigation. Further up, the avenues of the electrical and textile souks offer some hard sells and lead you to Carrefour, the huge French supermarket where refreshments await.
This stop takes you to the Heritage and Diving Villages. These cultural tourist attractions on the Shindagha waterfront reveal a little of the region’s history with traditional open-air entertainment and demonstrations on Bedouin camp life taking place at certain times of year (Eid holidays are the best time for entertainment). A few minutes’ walk away the erstwhile home of Sheikh Saeed – grandfather of Dubai’s current Dubai ruler HRH Sheikh Mohammed – is today a museum open to visitors interested in coins, stamps and photography from Dubai’s past.
Across the creek, the first stop on the Deira side of the Green Line is Al Ras. Dhow-spotting is the order of the day at this river-mouth locale. Watching these romanticised sea vessels chug and toil is infinitely more satisfying than train-spotting. Sunset is the most rewarding time to visit.
Deira Corniche is the main attraction at this stop. Visit at dawn to walk the river front and then buy some fresh catch at the local Fish Market (just follow your nose), [NB please hyperlink the restaurant names with links provided]
The confusing bundle of streets that make up the Gold, Spice and Perfume Souqs found near this stop are best explored in cooler months. A lack of signposts mean you could find yourself wandering in circles, but that’s not unpleasant for an hour or so at the right time of year. After conquering the souks, stroll down to eat at one of several restaurants in Deira’s waterfront Radisson Blu hotel. The China Club recently introduced a Dhs95 dim sum lunch and Japanese Sumibiya has a great evening buzz about it. There are also nightly dinner cruises on board the Radisson’s traditional dhow boat moored out front.
The second of the two transfer stations, Union Square is set to be huge – one of the biggest underground stations in the world apparently (well, this is Dubai!), and it will have the capacity to accommodate 22,000 passengers moving between the Red and Green Lines of this busy station.
We’re guessing this stop will see some serious footfall. The popular Crowne Plaza Hotel, which houses Harry’s Bar, has long been a Dubai favourite, and with the ridiculously good value buffet offers coming out of the hotel’s Spice Island restaurant, it’s also been pulling in the dining crowds. Across the road, Reef Mall is best visited during the working week, ideally Sunday, when it’s so quiet you feel like they’ve opened the place just for you. No hustle-bustle or queues, just pure serenity and shopping. Bliss.
Abu Bakr Al Siddiq
Hopefully you’ll never need to use this stop to visit its nearest landmark, Muraqqabat Police Station. Instead you’ll disembark for a night at the glam new Movenpick hotel. It’s our strongly held belief that the hotel’s Wok In restaurant serves the best fried rice in Dubai, and the partnering Wok In bar rocks most nights with tempting happy hour offers pulling in the financial district’s frugally-minded workers.
Further from Deira’s hub, this station in a more sedate part of town with its gathering of schools is most likely to come in handy for students. Foodies might also want to check out the intriguing Ethiopian cuisine on offer at Eri (04 220 8477).
Alight here for Al Nasser Square, an area known for its affordable three-star hotels – ideal if you’re looking for somewhere affordable to store visiting relatives.
Al Ahil’s football ground gives this station its name. Come here to watch local matches for free and one night you might rub shoulders with Al Wasl’s new manager Diego Maradonna!
Al Bustan Centre is a main landmark here; it’s a quiet mall that attracts a more mature female shopper. Paris Gallery is its flagship store.
Airport Free Zone
Take this stop for terminal 2 of the airport. Otherwise, this quiet area populated with a mix residential and office blocks is punctuated with uber-cheap eateries worth sampling.
Government establishments abound with the Dubai Courts, Department of Economic Development, Ministry of Labour and RTA offices all within walking distance of this stop. Expect to see civil servants aplenty at this place.
Only in Dubai could they name a station after a brand (for a substantial fee) rather than the area it’s in (but then Al Qusais is taken already – see above). This is the final stop for some, and the starting point for others, hence the bus depot, taxi point and 6,000-space car park. Happy commuting, folks.