Getting around in the Emirates is surprisingly easy. If you’re crazy and want to rent a car, have fun, but taxis, metro, and buses are everyday options. Transportation here is much cheaper than in Europe, plus it’s safe. The only bad experience I had was when I was alone in a taxi, and the driver tried to convince me to go all the way to the other side of Dubai so that he could make more money.
Taxis are perfect for short-range transportation. However, they can be expensive for longer distances, unless it’s one of the vans that seats seven people. Otherwise, taxi drivers try to be strict about the four passenger limit. However, if all five friends pile in at once, they usually complain for just a couple seconds before taking you all to your destination. Taxis are best for traveling around the Emirate you’re currently in, since crossing borders costs extra (around $6), and the trip may be more expensive than by bus or metro. Taxis can be booked by calling +971600525252 and pressing one when the answering machine starts talking in Arabic.
The Dubai metro is only faster than taxis when there’s traffic. Otherwise, it’s pretty slow, and a one-way ticket costs around $2.50 (8.50 AED), which is usually the cheapest way to travel. AUS offers a bus service to the metro, and students often take a taxi from campus to the Rashidiya metro station, then complete their journey with the metro. However, taking a seven-seater cab can be cheaper and faster than the metro.
AUS offers a bus service to Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and Dubai. Dubai tickets are $2.80 (10 AED) for one way, but otherwise must be bought in bulk. Four complete trips to Al Ain or Abu Dhabi cost $82 (300 AED) in total, but the regular bus may be cheaper for a one-time visit. The AUS buses buses don’t stop until they get to their destination, and only leave and return to campus once a week. They’re designed for students visiting family on the weekend.
Public inter-city buses leave from the Blue Souq in Sharjah, and a one-way ticket to just about any other emirate costs only $8 (30 AED). To get to this station, a public bus can be taken from the stop in front of AUS all the way to Al Rolla Square, which is in walking distance of the Blue Souq. That ticket costs only $1.30 (5 AED). More information is available at the Sharjah Transport Website, with buses on most lines leaving multiple times a day. For those who prefer a taxi to the Blue Souq, the cost is around $10 (35 AED).
As for inter-city taxi rides, these are best for large groups of people or those who just can’t stand public transportation. A one-way ride from Abu Dhabi to Sharjah can cost around $68-$81 (250-300 AED), making inter-city buses much cheaper.
Travel in the Emirates can be extremely cheap. Plus, signs and announcements are almost always in both Arabic and English, so the only language required is English, even for communicating with taxi drivers. The accent of a native-English speaker is hard for taxi drivers and the like to understand, so I suggest speaking in simple sentences – perhaps even broken English – and an Arabic accent if possible.