how do you get around?

Dubai is a car city—more so than LA. Let me say that again: Dubai is a city more obsessed with cars than Los Angeles (future post: How many Dubais can fit in one LA? one SF?), & it is difficult to get around the city, freeways and sideways—just like in LA—without a car.

We do not have a car.

Unlike LA, there is the Metro. I mean, one that people use.

I haven’t traveled south/southwest much. (Once to purchase barstools as seen on Dubizzle. Post to write: How are you furnishing your apartment? Also traveled south on Sunday to attend Easter mass at the Catholic church in the south-eastern section called Jebel Ali. Future post: How did you spend Easter? Another future post: Who is Ibn Battuta and how come I had to discover him in a mall?) And I need to explore the Green Line. But, I can almost recite the 21 stations along the Red Line starting at Dubai Internet City (the one closest to us) to the last stop, north/northeast, Rashidiya.

The train to R-rrrush-a-deee-ya will arrive at the R-rrrush-a-deee-ya platform. When you hear that, you have less than 45 seconds to get up the stairs before: The train to R-rrrush-a-deee-ya will depart from the R-rrrush-a-deee-ya platform. This happens every 5 minutes. There are lots of trains. No matter the time, they are always crowded. The stations are not that far apart; the train stops frequently, giving the feeling of a quick trip. Even when I had to travel to Umm Ramool to visit ourkittyboys, the hour-long ride would go by fast.

At each stop, the bilingual announcement plays. I’ve heard it so frequently, I can almost say “The next station is…” and “Doors closing” in Arabic. Not useful, but it’s a start.

The stations are these ancient sci-fi buildings that remind me of gladiators’ shoulder armor used for battle with the aliens. Or, to be more Douglas Adams about it: a fallen flapjack on a dog’s upturned water dish.

Dubai Internet City Metro Station

metroshell4 metroshell3

There are habit trails that bridge one side of the Metro station with the other—over the freeway or street. Select the numbered exit with which side of the street you want to land on. A little research helps. Some stations, like the Dubai Mall station, are incredibly long. Once you step off the train, the journey through the station and to the mall itself is about half mile/800 meters. (Not an exaggeration.)


The station after ours is Sharaf DG. There was a group of 4 guys (Russian?) sitting near us when we were riding last weekend. The young Matthew Broderick look-alike was holding court as jester, nasally imitating the announcer, Sha-raaaaaaf DG! Sha-raaaaf! Sha-raaaaf! Sounds like: Shut uuuuuup! Shut uuuup! We laughed. It only encouraged an encore. We laughed some more. (I feel this may not translate in writing; you had to be there.)

There’s talk of turning Metro stations into art galleries. I’m excited about this. (more info)

There is free wi-fi on the Metro, but I still don’t have a working phone and can’t access it. Before I leave on an adventure, I plan my route using the wi-fi in our apartment, take screen grabs of the directions—like this:


…and then reference my photos to get from point A to point B…either walking or taking a taxi.

Taxis are rather inexpensive and very plentiful: an easy option. But, I also like to walk. But, it’s also hot. Not very very very hot, just hot. It’s only April.

Still. There are times that I misjudge how hot it is and how much I’m carrying. I’m limited in my quest to furnish our flat by how much I can carry. It’s been a slow process. I often find myself in places between civilization where I’m not near a Metro station and where there are no taxis. These are usually construction zones where, in a year or so, will have mall or a highrise. I imagine this is what LA looked like a one point—before it became concrete and pavement.

These transition areas are not that large, maybe 1600 meters, but when I’m in pack-mule mode or when it’s hot, I feel like this:

Also, just like LA, nobody walks. Who would walk in this heat?

Pedestrians are sometimes an afterthought, as they are in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico—where the sidewalks are 2-3 brick-wide strips along busy streets. In Dubai, what might look like a sidewalk to a pedestrian is more often used as a shortcut for a minibike or a small car. Or, it’s being absorbed by the elements. As quickly as things are built here, the elements work to take it away.

Here’s a sidewalk in Al Karama. Similar sidewalks can be seen throughout Dubai.

Sand—1, Bricks—0.


This is a city in a constant state of decay & construction / tearing down & rebuilding / old & new / poverty & wealth / traditions & new customs / death & rebirth / ugly & beautiful / heat & AC ….keep flipping the coin. I’ve been enjoying this dichotomy that I see daily, this vibration of change, this theme for this chapter. (Irony factors in here, too, of course)

A short list of examples:

  • we moved during Easter season
  • the first movie we saw here was Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • I’m reading F. Scott Fitzgerald The Crack Up
  • Transformers was playing on the TV at the restaurant while we were having dinner
  • spring
  • the new & final, also penultimate, season of Mad Men

Also, Happy Earth Day!



2 thoughts on “how do you get around?

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