After the Roads and Transport Authority announced its plans for a Metro, it said that it would be renaming the stops — for a price. Companies and organisations have bought the right to name the stops any way they wish — most often simply calling it their name in order to garner as much advertising as possible for their dirham.
That’s all well and good, but the rebranding does little to help a wayward tourist or lost resident figure how best to get around using the new Metro.
We’ve renamed the stops free of charge, based on what we found in a week-long tour of the city.
There were some pleasant surprises (a gelato place behind Mall of the Emirates) and some disappointments (JAFZA just does not offer much to those who don’t work there), but we’ve chronicled it all in your handy new Metro guide, starting with Jebel Ali and going all the way to Rashadiya. Happy riding…
Written by Emily Meredith
A Day in the Park: Rashadiya
The quiet residential neighborhood behind the Rashadiya stop boasts a few family oriented activities. On the weekends, the well-manicured park is open to families. With sun shades, plenty of benches and a basketball court, the park is pleasant even when it’s still warm. Sunday through Thursday the park is only open to women and children, so make sure you plan your visits accordingly.
Emirates stop: The Emirates Stop
The official RTA name is probably the best possibility. Aside from the offices of Dubai’s esteemed airline, there’s not much around here other than the advertising offices of Dubai Municipality — why the municipality has an advertising office is quite a curiosity — and the RTA’s own headquarters. If you haven’t had quite enough fill of the Metro at this point, you can visit the RTA’s headquarters where a replica of the bullet-nosed first car sits on the lawn. You might be a bit mad if your love of public transportation prompts you to visit this dummy car.
Emigration: Terminal 1 and 3
The two stops next to the airport are less exciting for what’s around them than where you can go once you’re there. With recently launched flydubai, you can get to Djibouti, Aleppo, Alexandria, Beirut, Amman and Damascus on the cheap. Like flying Air Arabia, without the Dh60 cab ride to Sharjah’s airport.
THE LINKS: GGICO
Nestled amongst the maze of Garhoud, is one of the most accessible golf courses in the city, the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht club. This notoriously pricey sport is cheaper in the hot summer months, when a bucket of practice balls rents for just Dh30. This stop is also close to the Tennis Stadium and Irish Village, a chance to reign in your taxi costs from nights out.
City Not Centre: Deira City Centre
A request to visit the centre of the city has been sending newcomers and tourists astray for years: the misunderstanding often causes taxi drivers to drop passengers expecting Arabian style souqs and ancient wooden boats at a large shopping mall. The stop is under the mall, which is ringed by wide road lanes, making this stop more functional than exciting.
Cheap(er) Dubai Tourism: Al Rigga
You moved here before the ever present financial crisis took hold and you’re still paying more than 50 per cent of your monthly salary to live in a tiny windowless room on the Palm — or anywhere else in Dubai, really. Your family is coming to visit and you still respect your parents too much to have them stay on a blow-up mattress. The cluster of hotels next to the Al Rigga stop will be more forgiving for your budget, with hotels like the Holiday Inn Express, the Ramee Guestline Hotel and the Champs Elysee Hotel.
Adventure stop: Union Square
Union Square will do more than just unite the red and (future) green Metro lines. The stop is home to the inter-emirates bus system. Run by the RTA, buses leave every hour for Umm al Quwain, Ras al Khaima, Dhaid, Masafi and Fujairah and for Sharjah and Ajmann every 10 to 15 minutes. With prices for trips ranging from Dh5 to Dh25, whether you fancy scrambling in Fujairah’s wadis or heading for a peaceful weekend in Ras al Khaima, this is the stop for you. With a genie carousel, ‘hot air balloon ride’ and quad racing, just beholding the somewhat suspiciously named Crazy Fly Fairground directly across from the bus stop is an adventure in itself.
Indoor Arboretum : Khalid bin AL Waleed
While indoor potted plants don’t technically qualify as an arboretum, to a greens-starved resident looking for reminders of lush forests, BurJuman Centre offers a bit of help. The trees in the top floor of the mall are actually centuries old olive trees brought from Italy after a grove was razed. The best part: you won’t have to pay the shopping centre’s customary Dh20 per hour parking fee. Across from BurJuman is Rock Bottom, a pub that admirably tries to live up to the expectations set by its name. The live weekend band is fun and the drinks are cheaper than most.
Groceries for Cheap: Al Karama
Do your weekend shopping here. Instead of navigating around mall parking lots and dealing with soon to be introduced parking fees, visit the Al Karama stop. Union Coop, Sunrise City Supermarket, City Corner Supermarket and Al Manama Hypermarket are all within a short walking distance. Duck around the corner and you’ll find a host of beauty salons and car rentals.
Immigration: Al Jafiliya
Situated next to the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department, Al Jafiliya is where to go for any major visa issues you can’t fix at the airport. The nearby bus station makes public transportation go further.
Getting Business Done: Trade centre stop and Emirates Towers
With the Dubai International Convention Centre on one side and Emirates towers a bit further away, the Trade Centre stop runs the risk of being one of the most anticlimactic stops on the list. It largely serves as a convenient way for people visiting to get to and from their trade conventions, but with ladies night deals at Scarlet’s, you can do your networking here too.
Manakeesh stop: Financial Centre
Zaatar w Zeit is a local institution. Named for the thyme that plays such a critical role in this traditional Lebanese food, the restaurant is reliable and it is fast — for families it is a great way to eat out. It’s also one of the city’s few restaurants open all night, so you can fuel up before heading back out to nearby Fibber McGee’s, this is your stop.
The Money Stop: Burj Dubai
If you cross the street at the Burj Dubai stop, you’ll have somewhat dangerous access to the French Bakery. But the interior side of Shaikh Zayed road is the reason for this stop’s rebranding. The large offices of HSBC and Barclays where you store your money, the unique shops at Souk Al Bahar and vast expanses of retail in Dubai Mall where you spend it and the way in which it was spent to erect the world’s tallest man made structure all earn this stop its name. Dubai Mall is a democratising exercise in retail: allowing the extremely wealthy to shop at Cartier and Agent Provacateur as well as the hungry student to pick up something at the basement foodcourt, and everyone in between to spend. Plus, the fountain is pretty cool.
Nature: Business Bay
Across the long, air conditioned walkway from Business Bay, and a 10 minute walk away is Safa Park. Ringed by a rubber track demarcated every 100 metres, many residents go to Safa to work out in the early morning or late evening. The extensive grasses and trees means the air smells slightly sweeter than the rest of the city, perfect for running further. Local birdwatchers have seen rare species here, and the Ras Al Kor wildlife sanctuary is also a short taxi ride, if you find animals more exciting than plants.
The Arts: Al Quoz
This industrial corner is home to many galleries attracted by large warehouse spaces, including B21, thejamjar and The Third Line. Be forewarned though, high temperatures can make walking here a struggle.
Uncommon Housewares: First Gulf Bank
Yes, Gold and Diamond Park is the first thing to greet you as you disembark from this station. But walk from the station directly past the sparkly shopping centre, over a very green grassy median and into the furniture store Objekts of Design. If you’ve been looking for an alternative to the chain homeware stores (even in their newer, fancier versions of themselves) or flat-packed Swedish design, this store offers beautifully designed Italian and Spanish home furniture. The cowhide chairs and ottomons are something to behold, even if they are out of your price range.
Diverse Outdoor dining: Mall of the Emirates
This one may seem a bit counter intuitive, but if you’re game to walk for a bit, the Mall of the Emirates stop can offer you a host of new and diverse restaurants with outdoor seating. The small gelato shop offers up an alternative to the heavy, creamy ice cream that can sometimes seem to curdle in your stomach. Next door, Bay Leaf Indian Cuisine has an abbreviated bistro-style take on a traditional Indian menu. Arz Lebanon restaurant offers up mezze if you’re in the mood for more traditional Middle Eastern food. The constant construction means that it will be a while before the atmospere improves.
Bur Dubai without the traffic: Sharaf DG
Though this may hardly seem a ringing endorsement, the somewhat hotchpotch neighborhood springing up in Al Barsha is taking on many characteristics of the area that first developed as the city moved out from the creek. With several small beauty salons, groceries, pharmacies lit up by neon lights and bunches of medium sized buildings thrown up next to each other, it’s easy to see the direction this area is going. The watering holes at the Holiday Inn and the Golden Tulip have a more authentic hotel bar feel reminiscent of the older part of town.
English Pub Experience: Dubai Internet City
We’re not saying this is for everyone, but the newly opened Crown and Lion pub in Tecom makes great stabs at authenticity, if nothing else. In the first floor of the Byblos hotel in the Tecom area, the all wooden interiors and the big screen TVs frequently turned to football, or cricket, are a bit more than a stones throw away from the new Metro stop, but it’s still accessible.
The Greens: Nakheel
While there are plans for Nakheel’s monorail to eventually meet up with Dubai’s Metro network, the red line won’t complete the circuit. So for now, the two golf courses at Emirates Hills are the most stand-out feature at this stop at the base of the Palm Jumeirah.
Saturday morning strolls: Dubai Marina and jumeirah lakes towers
With waterfront sidewalks overlooking the platoon of small motor and sailboats going in and out of the marina, the Dubai Marina stop offers the best bet for outdoor strolling — once the weather cools that is. The marina is ringed by apartments with ground floor cafes, shops and even an art gallery. Poke into Carbon 12 for a look at the latest exhibit or walk into a cafe, where you can lounge outside on padded chairs all day.
Affordable Living: Nakheel Harbour and Tower and Ibn Battuta
The cluster of pinkish apartments that is Discovery Gardens is larger than you think. While prices of many apartment complexes are coming down, this relative newcomer to the local real estate market has some real deals when it comes to rents.
The energy stop
They’ve renamed this one for us. The stop at Dubai’s Aluminum manufacturer is now called the energy stop. Unless metallurgy excites you more than it excites the average light rail traveller, there’s precious little for you to see at this manufacturing outpost.
Industrious Stops: Jebel Ali Industrial and Jebel Ali
The stops at Jebel Ali Free Zone are functional, if not barren. The nature of the free zone — people go there just to work, you need to show an ID card to get in — means there are few prospects for exploration