Getting around Dubai: Driving can be pricey, but at least it is comfortable

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Dana Moukhallati uses her car...

DUBAI // Newly built six-lane highways and the low cost of petrol mean driving your own car is often the easiest way to get around Dubai.

But parking charges and the network of Salik toll gates, not to mention the road habits of other drivers, can make driving a fairly expensive and stressful option for your morning commute.

The 42km trip down Sheikh Zayed Road in a private car from Ibn Batutta Mall to Al Rashidiya Metro Station near Dubai airport took about 53 minutes and cost Dh41.1.

Using on average 8.7 litres of fuel per 100km, a 2014 Hyundai Tucson consumes 3.6 litres. With petrol costing Dh1.80 a litre, about Dh6.6 was spent on fuel.

At exactly 9.12am, I headed out of the car park at Ibn Battuta Mall and on to Sheikh Zayed Road, driving at an average speed of 100kph. The traffic from Jebel Ali towards Sharjah was flowing well, as most cars were travelling in the opposite direction.

By 9.22am I had already reached the first landmark, the Mall of the Emirates, and passed under the first toll gate at Barsha, which costs Dh4.

Seven minutes later I reached the second landmark, the Burj Khalifa. The traffic was still flowing and there were no signs of congestion, just the usual commuters vying for position on the road on their way to work.

After two more toll gates, at Al Safa and Al Garhoud, costing a total of Dh8, I arrived at Al Rashidiya Metro station and parked. The time was 9.51am.

The station is popular with commuters from Sharjah who park and take the train, so it took 10 minutes to find a spot. The first two levels were full. The third level was also packed, but I was lucky enough to spot someone pulling out of a spot at exactly 10.05am.

Parking at Al Rashidiya Metro station is free for anyone who uses their No1 card on the train. However, I paid Dh22.5 after spending a couple of hours at a station cafe. It can cost up to Dh50 a day if you do not use the train.

Although Dubai has a comprehensive public-transport system, many commuters argue that even though driving may be more expensive than the metro, the comfort of being behind the wheel of your own car makes up for it.

“I know the metro is the cheapest form of transport in Dubai, but it is inconvenient and slow,” said Moussa F. “I would rather pay a little more money and sit in the comfort of my car then have to take a metro and wait for a train.

“I can go and come as I please when I have my own method of transport.”

Despite the direct links to the airport, Moussa said he would still take a cab over the metro. He would not drive because parking is a problem.

“A taxi to the airport can run me up to Dh95-Dh100, but I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to park my car or how much it’s going to cost me to do so.”

Long-term parking at Dubai International Airport costs a minimum of Dh140 the first day and about Dh100 for each extra day. Tariffs vary between terminals.

Diana M, who has been living in Dubai for 14 months, used the metro when she first moved here but no longer does so.

“When I first moved to work here in Dubai, I used to take the metro from my home in JLT to Deira City Centre station. I remember it used to take a little less than an hour. However, when it started to get really hot I would get annoyed.

“I decided to lease a car so I had transport when the train is not running.”

She also used to take taxis, but it was not economical. “Taking cabs was a little expensive and I sometimes wouldn’t feel comfortable at how fast they would drive. I am much better off driving myself.”