With the exception of taxis, public transport is still very much in its infancy in the UAE. The Metro, with its two lines, has only been with us since 2009, and is yet to nearly double in size before Expo 2020 kicks off. Bus routes have also increased in both size and frequency in recent years, and as a result Dubai has never been more accessible to the masses.
The latest addition to the city’s infrastructure is finally complete, as the Dubai Tram (also known as Al Sufouh Tram) began operation on 12th November 2014. Originally scheduled for completion in 2009, it was pushed back and delayed due to the economic conditions of the time.
Guides spoke with the RTA and have comprised the ultimate guide to Dubai’s latest mass-transport system.
Phase 1 Dubai Tram serves the stretch of Al Sufouh road, from Dubai Marina and JBR, past Media City and up to Al Sufouh, just beyond the Palm, on a network covering 10.6km. This line commenced operation in November 2014.
Phase 2 The second phase, will involve the continuation of the line from Al Sufouh, past Madinat Jumeirah, and up to Mall of the Emirates, which will offer a third connection to the Dubai Metro Red Line, joining existing connections, Jumeirah Lake Towers and Dubai Marina. This will extend the length of the route to 14.6km, as well as increasing the number of stations from 11 to 17. It has not yet been announced when work on Phase 2 will commence.
Operation At first 11 trams will operate, with a further 14 being added when Phase 2 is complete, totalling 25. At a frequency of one tram every six minutes, it is expected to carry 27,000 passengers per day at the start before reaching approximately 66,000 by 2020.
Times The Dubai Tram runs seven days a week between 6:30am and 1:30am Saturday to Thursday. The service will run between 9am and 1:30am on Friday. It takes 42 minutes to ride from end to end.
Tickets It costs just Dh3 to ride the tram with your silver NOL card, regardless of destination. Those buying a single ticket who don't have a silver NOL card will have to pay Dh4. Unlike the Metro, where commuters scan their tickets and NOL cards at the gates, you will scan your ticket on the screen door before entering the tram itself.
Crossings There are 30 road and pedestrian crossings along the route, which are controlled by traffic lights and barriers.
Rolling stock Each tram will be capable of carrying up to 405 passengers, and in much the same way as the Dubai Metro, a premium Gold Class carriage will be fitted, as well as a dedicated area for women and children. The trams will be operated by a driver, not automated like the Metro. They will, however, be able to be remote controlled if needs must. The tram travels at 50kp/h.
Stations The stations, of which most are on ground level will be enclosed and air-conditioned in a similar fashion to the Metro, with sliding doors that open automatically when each tram arrives. There is an elevated section between JLT and Marina Towers.
Guide to the 11 tram stops of Phase 1
Jumeirah Beach Residence 1 (Ground Level)
Located on the Marina loop, JBR 1 can be considered the starting point of the Dubai Tram line. It serves the eastern three JBR residential complexes; Murjan, Sadaf, and Bahar. It is the closest tram station to the coastal side of Dubai Marina.
Nearby JBR 1 will take you near to seven signature hotels along JBR and The Walk; The Ritz Carlton Jumeirah Beach, Movenpick Jumeirah Beach, Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Beach, Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa, Habtoor Grand Resort & Spa, Grosvenor House Hotel, and the Meydan Beach Club. Partygoers will use this station when planning on spending a night in the Buddha Bar.
Jumeirah Beach Residence 2 (Ground Level)
Located on the Marina loop, JBR 2 is the western-most station on the Dubai Tram route. Primarily it serves the three western residential complexes on JBR; Rimal, Amwaj, and Shams. Like JBR 1, JBR 2 is ideal for those wishing to explore the coastal side of Dubai Marina.
Nearby JBR 2 will take you near to three signature hotels along JBR and The Walk; Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach, Amwaj Rotana, and the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach.
Jumeirah Lake Towers (Elevated with Metro connection)
Don’t be fooled by the name of the station; JLT is on the opposite side of Shaikh Zayed Road. JLT is one of two stations that connects with the Dubai Metro. To get there, alight the tram and cross the footbridge over Shaikh Zayed Road. You can then either hop on the Metro or exit the station to access JLT.
Nearby JLT station is the obvious choice for passengers wishing to explore JLT. It also serves the southern side of Dubai Marina and its promenade of restaurants and shops.
Dubai Marina Mall (Elevated)
Dubai Marina Mall tram station is located right next to Shaikh Zayed Road, and serves, as the name suggests, Marina Mall. You can access the southern promenade of Dubai Marina through the back entrance of the mall.
Nearby Aside from Marina Mall, the tram station will also serve Al Reel Cinema (inside the mall), as well as The Address Dubai Marina Hotel.
Dubai Marina (Elevated with Metro connection)
Dubai Marina tram station is the only other stop which, so far, will connect with the Dubai Metro Red Line. Alight here to enjoy the southern promenade of Dubai Marina; this includes many restaurants and shops.
Nearby Dubai Marina station can also be used to access the northern section of Jumeirah Lake Towers by crossing the walkway over Shaikh Zayed Road. It also offers access to Dubai Marina Mall.
Marina Towers (Elevated)
Marina Towers tram station is located near the Shaikh Zayed Road intersection which leads to Al Sufouh Road. It will serve many residential complexes and restaurants. It is another access point to Dubai Marina.
Nearby Marina Towers is close to Spinney’s Dubai Marina.
Mina Seyahi (Ground level)
Mina Seyahi tram station will be one of the busier stops along the tram route. Its location on Al Sufouh Road means that it is central to the local area, including plenty of residential towers and signature hotels.
Nearby Mina Seyahi serves several high-profile residences, such as the Princess Tower and the Elite Residences (the tallest residential building in the world). It also serves signature hotels including: Le Meridien Mina Seyahi, The Westin, and the Tamani Hotel Marina.
(Party-goers will also use it to visit Barasti, one of the most popular venues in Dubai. Those of a more nautical disposition should alight here for the Dubai International Marine Club).
Media City (Ground level)
Dubai Media City is known among those who work there as being a nightmare for parking. The tram station, then, will offer welcome relief to those who want to leave the car at home. The station is located near to the Arjaan by Rotana Media City Hotel.
Nearby Media City tram station serves Dubai Media City. It is near to the Arjaan by Rotana Hotel, as well as the popular Radisson Blu Media City Hotel. The nearest signature hotel is the world-renowned One and Only Royal Mirage Hotel, which is on the other side of Al Sufouh Road.
Palm Jumeirah (Ground level)
Palm Jumeirah tram station will prove one of the busier stops along the Dubai Tram route. It's popular with holiday-makers and day-trippers who are on their way for a day on the Palm or heading to the Atlantis Hotel. The station also serves as access to Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City.
Nearby Palm Jumeirah tram station is nearby the Palm Monorail, which provides dedicated access to Atlantis the Palm Hotel and Aquaventure.
Knowledge Village (Ground level)
Knowledge Village tram station is the dedicated stop for Knowledge Village. It is a popular station for students.
Nearby Knowledge Village tram station is close to a number of academic institutes, such as Zayed University, Dubai College, Chouifat School, and the Eton Institute.
Al Sufouh (Ground level)
Al Sufouh tram station is where the service terminates until Phase 2 of the project is complete. Serving mainly residential areas with only light retail, the station is likely to remain relatively quiet until the rest of the line is open.
Nearby Residential areas in the Al Sufouh district.