Identity of Dubai

Identity of Dubai

Dubai is one of the hottest vacation and business destinations worldwide. The transportation system has played a crucial role in connecting Dubai to the rest of the world. It entails the harmonious existence of traditional and modern modes of transport. Some people use traditional means of transportation, such as camels and Abras (water taxis), while others prefer taxis and Metros. Dubai is a city that was built from scratch in a desert; this, in itself, gives it a unique identity. Nowadays, Dubai is a metropolitan area with excellent infrastructure that attracts major commercial activities and tourists from all parts of the world. The purpose of this paper is to examine the linkage between the city of Dubai and its current iconic public transport system, as well as its contribution to creating urban distinctiveness. The essay will focus on the development, ownership, and improvement of the public transport system in Dubai by the government of the United Arab Emirates, which grants the city a unique identity.

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Dubai’s uniqueness originates from its research and investment in the state of the ground public transport infrastructure. At the same time, the identity of Dubai is manifested by the fact that the city was constructed from scratch in a desert. Therefore, the case of public transport in Dubai was subjected to inquiry and scientific studies in the past. Initially, the purpose of the research was more about addressing the congestion problem, harmful effects on the environment, and the quality of life in Dubai (Parahoo, Harvey, & Radi, 2014). However, in order to make the city unique, the Municipality of Dubai, and the Road and Transport Authority by extension, had to go beyond solving the typical issues that all metropolitan areas face to give Dubai the unique identity through infrastructure. This would attract tourists and take advantage of other economic opportunities, given that the city lacked natural resources.

The local transport system is operated by the RTA and it consists of the Dubai Metros, waterbuses, buses and Abras (water taxis). The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is responsible for planning and providing transport, roads, and traffic between Dubai and other Emirates and neighboring countries in the Middle East to establish an effective and integrated public transport system. Another unique feature about Dubai is that it is almost impossible to explore it on foot, even if you combine such a way with other means of transport, due to the shortage of pavements, pedestrian crossings, and traffic lights.

Since the reconfiguration of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, the three main modes of transport –  air, maritime and surface – have been integrated into Dubai’s global identity (Parahoo, Harvey, & Radi, 2014). However, at that time (1971) the city lacked the efficient intra-urban means of public transport. In 2009, Dubai Metro was inaugurated, and it came in handy to respond to the challenges experienced with the local road networks, pollution, and traffic congestion, which are even now present in the urban image of the city and in the building of its worldwide uniquenes (Parahoo, Harvey, &Radi, 2014). The transformation of Dubai’s transport infrastructure started with the preemption of the modern and more efficient Dubai Metros over the RTA bus. It was argued that Dubai derives its global identity more from the Metros as compared to the RTA bus.

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Daily mobility choices of the city residents were initially hampered by the lack of integration with the bus system within the metropolitan boundaries. I will endeavor to explore the incorporation of the urban subway into the daily commuting of dwellers and the integration of that underground railroad into their lifestyles. At the same time, the question is why the Dubai Metro is advertised all over the world as a shopping destination when the transport system is disregarded. More focus is given to the Metro because it grants the city its identity.

In 2004, Dubai constructed a modern superhighway and bought new buses with a larger carrying capacity in its quest to solve the problem of traffic congestion often experienced in the morning hours as people rush to work or school. However, this solution was short-lived, as in 2009, Dubai had to construct underground railroads as an easy and faster way to deal with the issue of traffic jams (Parahoo, Harvey, &Radi, 2014). Concurrently, the population using buses decreased because they were slower and charged the same fare as the subway. Furthermore, the Dubai Metro serves two key roles, namely as a symbolic project and as an infrastructural investment project. As a symbolic project the it connects main tokens of the city like Palm Jumeirah, Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab and as an infrastructural project, it has the purpose of reducing traffic congestion.

Dubai is also tourist attraction destination full of good places like Emirates Mall, Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest building in the world. Public transport system in the city has attracted immense interest around the globe and occasionally it was subjected to scientific inquiry so as to establish whether there are environmental impacts and side-effects on the quality of life of the Dubai residents. Furthermore, scientific studies played a key role in solving the congestion problem in the most crowded city in the Middle East. Investment in the research helped Dubai to be described as a clean and orderly urban area with modern infrastructures.

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It is argued that the Dubai Metro makes the metropolis unique thus giving it an identity. Dubai Metro was launched in 2010 and has proved to be the most popular means of transport. Therefore, cities all over the globe have become selective in what to incorporate to upgrade their transport systems. However, efficiency is no longer the decisive factor in infrastructural investment. Thus, it is important to note that modernity can be a major determinant in selecting a mode of intra-urban public transport. Furthermore, Dubai Metros have played a significant role in renewing the image of the city and its public transport system at large. Moreover, the latter is praised all over the world thus giving this metropolitan area a unique identity.

The history of infrastructural development in Dubai is mostly associated with the road networks. Until 2004, the city got its identity from the construction of highways, roads under as well as over the bridges, and flyovers. However, the advent of automated Metro, which is projected to connect major employment and business hub, will go a long way in intensifying the uniqueness of Dubai. The automation of subway line was initiated by the planning department of Dubai municipality to solve traffic congestion. The planning department has been transformed since to cater for the growing needs and now it is called Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai.

Dubai executive council has also contributed to the enhancing of the urban identity. It passed specific laws, which regulate real estate development and ensure that every large infrastructural project submits a master transport plan before the construction is allowed to start. Dubai executive local authority has an ambitious idea to make the metropolitan public transport system a global leader and a pioneer public administration. Furthermore, the council has played a leading role in giving Dubai its identity through its ambitious goals of raising the bar for public transport system expectations. Thus, the unique aspect about Dubai is that it is a promising smart and sustainable city led by a supportive government, which is constantly striving to make the metropolis a key hub in the global economy.

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Dubai’s transport system is extremely large and advanced with an expansive public bus network, which is operated and managed by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). RTA regulates transportation services within the city and it is the main transport solution provider in the municipality. Dubai bus system has more than 193 routes and carries more than 30 million people on a weekly basis. Despite the fact that traffic congestion continues to remain the main problem that the Dubai public transport network is facing today, the bus fleet is made up of high-quality custom-built vehicles that are furnished with comfortable individual seats, air-conditioning, and fully automated and electronically operated destination display, coupled with computerized fare equipment systems. All these features in Metro buses contribute to creating the uniqueness of the city.

From a broader perspective, the Dubai Metro appeared not only as a way of solving the issue of traffic congestion but also as a consequence of rebuilding Dubai in the post-crisis period. In the context that economic prosperity of the city was to rely on tourism, speculation, and real estate boom after the full exploitation of natural resources. Therefore, Dubai Metro should be seen beyond its primary role as a mode of transport. Hence, to attract tourist to the metropolis they had to make Dubai the one and only.


In conclusion, public transport in Dubai plays a key role in giving the city a unique identity. Even though the public transport system has not been effective in overcoming the problem of traffic congestion, it has successfully made Dubai an investment and tourist attraction destination.


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