What Apps to download to navigate in Dubai

Apps can be roughly divided into three categories: maps and road conditions, public transportation, and taxi booking. Some of them only work online, so you'll need a local SIM card, while others work offline. All the apps are intuitive, have extensive functionality, and are available to download on the App Store and Google Play.

Navigation Apps for Travelling around the Emirates

Google Maps and Maps.me are international applications that are installed on almost every smartphone. They help to create walking, public transportation, and driving routes, and provide information about nearby F&B establishments, shops, pharmacies, shopping centres, and more. There is also a voice input feature for those who are driving.

Tourists and expats in the Emirates also actively use Yandex.Maps and 2GIS applications. It is recommended to download a map of Dubai in advance before arriving in the UAE to use offline navigation.

Google Maps

To use the app, registration is required, meaning you need to create a Google account if you don't already have one. Thanks to synchronisation with your Google account, the application offers you public places, hospitals, schools, and kindergartens that you were previously interested in. There is a feature to save frequently used routes, track traffic congestion, and even display air pollution levels.

+ A variety of navigation functions, a user-friendly interface, and voice input

- Unreliable performance of the offline map


One of the most popular navigation apps in Dubai. It features a large database of establishments and public places. Users can also create geo-tags for their favourite places and save frequent routes. Registration is not required after installing Maps.me.

+ Detailed map with high terrain accuracy, no registration required

- Traffic congestion is not visible in offline mode

The Most Popular Local Apps

Waze and S'hail are in high demand due to their versatility. Here you can check road conditions, plan car and public transportation routes, make transportation payments, rent a car, and book a taxi. These apps work only in online mode, so you will need a SIM card, which can be conveniently purchased at the airport.


The app is driver-oriented and provides real-time route information and road conditions, including traffic congestion, accidents, surveillance cameras, and police checkpoints. It also features a hazard notification function. Routes can be pre-planned, saved, and activated when you start driving.

Waze helps you to find nearby gas stations, parking lots, cafes, and more along your route. The app collects data from drivers and passengers, which is immediately visible to anyone in the current location. Users can also attach photos and comments about road conditions. Registration and filling out vehicle information are required after installing the app.

+ Clear map, simple interface, fast information updates from fellow road users

- No voice input, doesn't work in offline mode


The app helps to plan trips using various modes of public transportation, book taxis, and rent cars. It features an interactive map with routes, public places, landmarks, and more. Real-time traffic information is displayed, and there is a function to track the location of expected buses.

Important! Through the S'hail app, you can make payments for transportation services. During registration, you need to provide your bank card or wallet number.

To rent a car, you need to select Smart Car Rental. You will receive a PIN code which you can use to reserve a car parked at RTA parking lots. Open the door by pressing the button in the app, enter the PIN code into the device installed in the car, and start the engine. The tariff ranges from AED 24 (USD 6.5) to AED 30 (USD 8.2) per hour, depending on the car's return location.

+ All public transportation routes in one app, taxi booking, smart car rental, payment for transportation services, detailed map and road conditions

- Works only in online mode

Public Transportation

The following applications will be useful if you are travelling by metro, bus, or tram.

RTA Public Transport Dubai (RTA Dubai)

An application developed by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in the UAE. It covers all public transportation in Dubai, including the metro, buses, trams, and water transport. With this app, you can plan out convenient routes, purchase tickets, check balances, apply for or top up a personal Nol card, pay fines for vehicles, renew driving licences, and book taxis. The app also includes a fare calculator, information on rules and penalties on public transportation, and a guide to Nol cards.

Important! RTA is the government authority responsible for regulating transportation requirements and roads in Dubai, as well as between other emirates and neighbouring countries.

The app is free. After installation, registration is required using an email and a local phone number, which requires a SIM card. To pay for services and top up the balance, it is sufficient to link a bank card once. Points are accumulated for each trip and transaction, which can also be used to pay for transportation services.
The taxi booking process is standard: in the app, you specify the pick-up and drop-off locations, choose a suitable car based on category and cost, and wait for the vehicle. Payment is made through the app using the linked bank card, No card, cash, or new bank card.

+ Comprehensive information on any mode of transportation, ticket purchasing, Nol card balance control and top-up, bonus system, taxi booking
- Registration is only available with a local SIM card, and there is no offline mode

Dubai Metro

A very simple application designed for those who use the metro as their main mode of transportation. It displays a detailed map with station names, streets, and intersections. In the app, you can create and save routes, find out tariff details, and check the schedule.
Registration is not required after installing the application. The free version contains advertisements, but you can purchase the VIP option to remove them. The price of the package is AED 8 (USD 2.2) per month or AED 21 (USD 5.7) per year. The app works in offline mode.

+ Accurate train schedule, fare information, trip cost details
- Advertisements in the free version, inability to top up Nol card

Taxi Booking

The most popular taxi booking applications in Dubai are Careem, Smart DTC, Hala, RTA Dubai, and S'hail. The latter two have been mentioned earlier as universal applications with extensive functionality. Careem, Smart DTC, and Hala are specifically designed for taxi bookings. Through these applications, you can choose the category and class of the car, calculate the estimated time and cost of the trip, view driver details, and make payments by linking an electronic wallet. Payments can also be made using the Nol card, a bank card, or cash. Upon installing the application, registration will be required via email and a local SIM card. There is no Russian language version available.

Note that Hala is already integrated into Careem, so you don't need a separate app for it. Hala taxis are beneficial for short trips within Dubai as they have lower fares.
With Smart DTC, you can book a car for trips with children, transportation of pets, or specifically request a female driver for women passengers. Smart DTC is also widely used as a delivery service.

Each app offers a wide range of features, from route planning and traffic monitoring to car rental and Nol card top-up. By installing 2-3 apps on your smartphone, you gain quick access to useful services and essential transportation options.

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