Page update - Sep 27, 2022
Buses in the UAE are extremely useful for tourists if need to travel between the emirates. Intra-city buses are also convenient, as many of them go to beaches and points of interest.
On this page, we will talk about all kinds of buses in the United Arab Emirates, prices and ticket types, rules of use and behavior, prohibitions and fines.
Prices and other information on this page were updated in September 2022. Don't forget about the strict covid safety measures in transport in the UAE. Face masks are still mandatory in all transport.
In December 2021, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi announced that electric buses will soon (in 2022) appear on the roads. Several electric buses were shown at a presentation on December 8. The electric buses are produced by the local company Emirates Global Motor Electric, and the batteries are supplied by the Chinese company Yinlong Energy.
We praise the next step of the UAE to environment friendly technologies. Keep it up!
Many tourists don't understand some rules in Emirati buses, so it's a pity to get a fine for violating those rules. Complicated rules and high fines are just another reason to take a cab instead of a bus. Read about cabs in our detailed review "Taxis in the UAE".
Bus drivers are not obliged to stop at every stop of the route. If you need to get off at the next stop, you must signal to the driver by pressing the special button. If you are standing at the stop and see the bus you need then you better signal to the driver that you want to get on.
Important note. Drivers drive strictly according to the timetables. And if the driver is on the timetable, he/she will stop at every stop. If the driver is not on the timetable, he/she will skip stops to catch up. So, either way, it's advisable to push the button and signal that you want to get on. You don't know if the driver is on the timetable or not.
Only women and children may occupy the first few rows of seats. The word "children" in the UAE means persons under 12 years old. Women and children can sit in any seat, not necessarily in the front rows. Children must only be accompanied by an adult.
The entrance is only through the front doors. Validating machines are also located there. The exit through the back doors, but women and children can also exit through the front doors.
Watch your step! Some buses have red areas on the floor where standing is prohibited. If caught by the inspector, the fine is 200 dirhams. For the current exchange rates of the Emirati currency, see the page "UAE Dirham".
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Penalty for stowaway - 200 dirhams. The procedure of fare payment in Emirates buses is complicated, and we'll talk about it in detail a little later.
It is forbidden to drink, eat, smoke inside buses. It is forbidden even to chew gum. If caught by the inspector, the fine is from 200 dirhams.
It is strictly forbidden to be drunk inside any public transport (except cabs), just like in any other public place in the UAE. And it is much more dangerous inside buses. If you are just walking down the street, you can bypass the police, maybe they won't catch you. But if you are inside a bus, then an inspector will call the police, and then you will be fined 600 dirhams or even worse. Read our page "Alcohol in the UAE - rules and fines".
Drinking alcohol inside any transport is a criminal offense, like drinking in any public place. Read our review "What you can't do in the UAE".
The fine for any loud quarrel or swearing is 50 dirhams. It is forbidden to sleep. It is forbidden to carry huge luggage or place luggage in passages, the penalty is up to 500 dirhams. Keep this in mind if you want to save money and take the bus from the airport. Trying to save money can result in a fine.
The next paragraph of the rules shocks some European and American people. We translate it verbatim: "It is forbidden to spit out of the windows". No comments.
It is forbidden in buses to play music, beg, sell or distribute anything, or carry bicycles.
And then there is the amazing procedure of forced disembarking passengers out of UAE buses. Fortunately, it happens very-very rarely, but few tourists have seen this phenomenon. If the bus is overcrowded, the driver goes into the cabin and demands that some passengers get off. Or the driver demands that the passenger who is disturbing others leave the cabin. If he/she refuses to obey, the fine is 100 dirhams.
Most of these fines were introduced in December 2017. There was the largest tightening of the rules in public transport in Dubai.
They are much easier to use. Each passenger sits on his/her own seat. You won't step on the "red zone" accidentally. Payment at the entrance is fixed (does not depend on any zones), it is impossible to make a mistake. You can place your luggage in the special compartment. And the inspectors do not work in the intercity buses. It is a pleasure to ride.
There are the E301, E303, E303A, E304, E306, E307, E307A, E315, E316 routes between Sharjah and Dubai. Each of those routes has its own special features. Read more in our review "From Sharjah to Dubai and back".
For the details on how to find bus stations, what are the fares, travel times, read our reviews at the links above.
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If you find some city bus route that is convenient, read about the fares and rules for intracity buses below.
The fare is paid by NOL card in Dubai, by Hafilat card in Abu Dhabi, by Sayer card in Sharjah, by Masaar card in Ajman. The features of all these cards are almost the same.
The card can be bought from vending machines, ticket booths, stores, and sometimes from bus drivers. The card is an electronic wallet (except NOL Red). It's best to top it up with a vending machine. The price of the trip depends on the distance or the zone.
Right after you get in the bus you have to put your card to the validator and the screen will show a green tick, so everything is OK, the machine has fixed the start of the trip. The procedure is called Check-in.
On the way out you need to put your card to the validator again! Then the system will calculate the price of the trip itself and write off the necessary amount from the card. This procedure is called Check-out. You can see these validators near the back doors in the photo . Click on the photo to enlarge it to full screen.
Warning. You must check-out only after the bus has completely stopped. If you make the check-out before stop you can be fined 100 dirhams. These are the rules.
If you don't make the check-out, the next time you use the card the system will decide that you have reached the end of the route and will write off the maximum amount, for example, for Dubai now it is 7.5 dirhams. Unpleasant, so do not forget to check-out.
The fare is paid by the NOL card. This is the same card used to pay for the subway. These cards come in different types - Silver, Gold, Blue (personal), Red. We will not talk about that now, because you can find complete information about NOL cards on our pages "Dubai Metro" and "NOL cards - features of work".
There are NOL cards with an original design. In 2014, the Dubai authorities announced a photo competition, and they chose 13 out of 1500 works of Dubai residents. Based on these photos, 13 designs were made. See the photo of the presentation of these cards near, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.
If you want to get such a card for your collection, we will disappoint you. They are only issued in the form of Blue NOL - a personal card, only for residents of the UAE.
There are 150 bus routes in Dubai right now (note: page was updated September 2022), some may be useful. If some bus can help you get to a particular attraction or a beach, we are sure tell you in detail on the corresponding page. So we won't talk about the routes in detail right now.
See the list of interesting places on our page "Sightseeing in the UAE".
The fare is paid by Hafilat card. The using rules are the same as NOL - check-in and check-out. For tourists there is a convenient type of card called "Temporary Hafilat Card", free of charge, valid for 30 days, can be recharged for 150 dirhams. And this card has a very convenient tariff - unlimited for 7 days for 30 dirhams. Take advantage of it, it couldn't be more convenient!
There are about 70 bus routes in Abu Dhabi. We will not talk about them in detail now. If it is convenient to get to some attractions by bus, we will certainly tell you in detail on the corresponding page.
Find your transfer
The fare is paid with the Sayer card, but you can still pay in cash. But the Sayer fare is cheaper - 6 dirhams, and 8 dirhams by cash.
There are only 11 routes in Sharjah, and we doubt any of them will be useful. On top of that, bus fares in Sharjah are insanely expensive even by the standards of the United Arab Emirates. Six dirhams! For such money it is more convenient and faster to take a cab.
In the Emirate of Umm Al-Quwain, there are no inner-city buses at all.
In the Emirate of Fujairah, there is one internal bus route to Dibba. There are several beach hotels in Dibba and it is convenient for tourists vacationing there to get to Al Fujairah City. The fare is 20 dirhams.
In the Emirate of Ajman, there are 7 bus routes so far. Fares are 3 or 5 dirhams, paid by cash (then 5) or by a local Masaar card (then 3).
In the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, there are four bus routes. They are not numbered, but are called by color: Red, Blue, Green, Purple. They all go from Manar Mall to different parts of the city. Fares range from 5 to 10 dirhams.
The Red route is useful for those going on vacation in Ras Al Khaimah. It runs between the resort area Al Jazeera Al Hamra and Manar Mall in the city center. The bus is very advantageous for tourists in the hotels of this resort area.
Somewhere will help, somewhere not, read our detailed pages:
We wish you fast and comfortable rides in the United Arab Emirates, and read our interesting pages about this country (see list of the pages below).
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