Living in Dubai

Travelling to the United Arab Emirates? How to get there?

The United Arab Emirates have very excellent roads to and from Oman and Saudi Arabia, but crossing the border with the latter usually is not of any relevance to travelers.

The United Arab Emirates have several international airlines and international airports:

Dubai International Airport (DXB) is a major airport just 4 kilometers southeast of Dubai center. Dozens of airlines serve hundreds of destinations. Emirates Airlines has its base in Dubai. It has flights to over 100 cities in about 55 countries, making it one of the biggest airlines in the world. It handled almost 41 million passengers in 2009, resulting in the 15th busiest airport in the world. As of June 2009, there over 5,600 weekly flights operated by nearly 100 airlines to over 200 destinations across all six continents. Some of the main destinations from Dubai International Airport are Moscow, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Nairobi, Delhi, Mumbai, Beijing, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Johannesburg, Rome, Hong Kong, Auckland, Cairo, Cape Town, Casablanca, Shanghai, New York, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Perth, Seoul, Washington, D.C., Istanbul and Bangkok.

The new Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) will start operations from June 2010 onwards and will be one of the largest airports in the world and a major hub for flights between most continents.

Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) is the gateway to the city and also the main base of the flag carrier, Etihad Airways. Etihad Airways has flights to many major cities in Europe, Asia and even further away to Sydney and New York. Low-cost carrier AirAsia X connects Abu Dhabi with Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from November 2009.

Etihad Airways provides bus coaches between Dubai and Abu Dhabi International Airport for Etihad customers. Taxis are available for transport into Abu Dhabi center.

The current Abu Dhabi airport was built in the 70’s and although unique in a quaint sort of way, it’s showing it’s age.
The new terminal 3 has opened in 2009 and should provide a better experience. A midfield terminal is under construction and is slated to open around 2012 and will be a world-class international facility with a 22 million passenger per year capacity.

A great alternative for some low-cost airlines is the Sharjah International Airport which has flights to most major cities in the Middle East and also to various cities in India and other countries in southern Asia and eastern Africa. It is the main hub for budget carrier Air Arabia, which has the bulk of flights.

Getting to the United Arab Emirates By Car
The United Arab Emirates have very excellent roads to and from Oman and Saudi Arabia, but crossing the border with the latter usually is not of any relevance to travelers. You will only do so if you can get a transit visa to cross Saudi Arabia towards for example Jordan. But only if you have proof there is no other way to get there. Having your own vehicle definitely helps. Crossings to Oman are straightforward though and usually hassle-free.

By Bus
There are daily connections between Dubai and Muscat, the capital of Oman, taking around 4 to 5 hours.

Buses also go to a number of cities in Saudi Arabia, including Dammam, Jeddah and Riyadh, and places further away like Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Cairo. You have to get transit visas to get on a bus, but currently, foreigners outside the GCC countries (mainly the Middle East) cannot get one unless they have their own transport (car) and prove it’s not possible to get to your destination otherwise.

By Boat
Several ferries and fast catamarans travel between Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Destinations include Bandar Lengeh to Dubai and Bandar Abbas to Dubai and Sharjah. Check the Iran Traveling Center for more details about schedules and prices.

Getting Around By Plane
There are no domestic flights.

By Train
Apart from a new metro system in Dubai, there are no regular train links above the ground.

By Car
Most of the country has perfect roads, but within cities, it can be very busy and road behavior can be a big nuisance as well, although most travelers won’t have any trouble driving a regular car anywhere in the country. There are numerous international and local companies offering rental cars at airports, resorts and in all cities. There is no need to rent a 4wd unless you want to go dune-bashing yourself.

Renting a car or driving in the UAE requires an international driver’s license, which is simply a translation of your standard license and can be acquired at a local automobile association.

By Bus
There are several bus companies offering at least one daily bus on most routes. All Emirates are served, including frequent services between Dubai and Abu Dhabi and Dubai and Sharjah.

By Boat
Most travelers only take the water taxi between Dubai and Deira, but other than that, services are either not useful, limited or just absent.


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Arif Mohammad

Independent Blogger, ECommerce Webmaster & Social Media Marketer. Mudawwana UK Director. Previously in Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi & Riyadh.

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