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12 essential apps for Dubai life

Applications to make your life easier as the city moves from eGovt to mGovt

Image Credit: Rex Features
Dubai recently launched an “m-government” initiative to make more public services available on smartphones.

Loads of smartphone apps or online facilities are here to make life easier for you. You can book a taxi, direct emergency workers, check Metro timings, pay utility bills, check medical fitness test requirements, start a business or pay traffic fines or parking fees from your phone or tablet.

Dubai has recently launched an “m-government” initiative to make more public services available on smartphones. That’s in addition to the 2,000 e-government services on the web. We’ve listed some of the most important e-government or m-government apps that could make help make many of those drab, time-consuming procedures a breeze. Happy apping.

Apply for online visa

This service has greatly improved since 2010, when Emirates airline launched its online visa system for people from 56 countries who visit the UAE. Just follow a step-by-step guide on (go to ‘manage my booking’). Once done, visa will be delivered electronically within four days. All payments are by credit card. Deposit will be paid back on credit card upon confirmation of exit from the UAE.

Upside: This has helped make Dubai one of the world’s top travel destinations. Works alongside over-the-counter visa-related application process.

Downside: Those on one-way flights not eligible.


This free app is great for those flying in and out of Dubai, or for checking flight details. A location map shows the different areas and retail outlets -- fine/casual dining at the different terminals, cafes, confectioneries, bars, fastfood, smoking lounges – at Dubai’s three sprawling terminals (T1, T2, T3).

Upside: Helps you check flights and navigate around the massive terminals.

Downside: Pop-up ads can be annoying.


This free app from Dubai Municipality notifies you on any service availed from the civic body. Get a street view map of Dubai, and give feedback about its employees (were they rude to you?). It has hundreds of points of interest using GPS and street panoramas besides list of pharmacies on duty.

Upside: Rated 4+ by some users, good utility for giving feedback on DM’s services.

Downside: Some report street-view maps don’t work all the time.


Pay for parking via your cellphone. Just give your vehicle number, parking zone number and duration (one hour to four hours). View your parking history by week, month or year.

Upside: Great if you run out of coins or your

Nol card has no credit.

Downside: It takes some getting used to.


Check train/bus/water bus timings, book a cab, get details of interesting places. To book a cab, just give your name, mobile number, pick-up address and destination address. Along with a separate Dubai Metro2 free app, it gives directions/locations of all Metro stations, rules and fines, timings and carriages.

Upside: A feature-rich all-in-one public

transport app.

Downside: It’s of no use (obviously) for non-public transport users.


Check and pay utility bills in Dubai. Just enter your Dewa account number to get your electricity, water, sewage, cooling, housing fee and other charges. Pay via mPay. The app shows various locations of payment centres too. Log complaints by sending coordinates and even images of defects you see. Stay up to date with Dewa news and events.

Upside: Great app for sorting out your utilities on the go.

Downside: Too early to say if all functionalities work.

Start a business

Launched in September, this smartphone app manages licensing and business registration services at the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) using an iPhone or iPad (Arabic and English). You may register a business, apply for licence renewal, reserve/renew your trade name, obtain initial approval of licences, and pay licence fees and fines..

Upside: The leading edge of business-friendliness in the region.

Downside: Only available on certain platforms.

More info: (click e-services).

Pay traffic fines online

Get info on traffic fines and black points. Just type relevant details such as traffic control number (vehicle registration number), driving licence, car plate code/number, fine number and year. Details of your offences will be on display and you can pay online.

Upside: Easy to use, especially when renewing your vehicle registration.

Downside: It reminds you how bad (or good) a driver you are.

More info: (click “most-used e-services”).

Help during an emergency

If you are a heart and critical situation patient, this service is for you. Dubai residents who suffer from heart disease or critical cases can register and subscribe to the service. Just visit and key-in important data. This helps speed up response time in a medical emergency call [999].

Upside: Available 24/7, linked to ambulance centre.

Downside: Efficiency depends on how much detail you input. Service only available to Dubai residents.


This app allows you to monitor your Salik balance, the time, date and location of Salik gates passed (and direction taken) and the last recharge.

Upside: Fairly positive user reviews (3.5 stars).

Downside: App costs Dh7.29.


Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA) free app allows you to find and book a doctor’s appointment, get reminders about your child’s vaccine, get directions to DHA facilities, find a medical facility, pull out your medical records, schedule a blood donation and give feedback to health authorities. It can even calculate your body mass index (BMI).

Upside: Medical service on the go.

Downside: Limited to government medical services.

Al Ameen Service

This is a free bilingual app from Dubai Police available for reporting to police anything unusual you see in your locality.

Upside: Free, bilingual.

Downside: New, no user reviews available yet.

Other apps that may be of interest

iLingual This app is an innovative and fun way to learn and speak Arabic.

Personalised Nol Your Nol card is not just a Metro pass, but also a cash alternative and a debit card.


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