Dubai public transport “adventure”

Wednesday night the boys and I decided to catch a metro after dinner to The Dubai Mall and watch the water fountain show. At 6:30pm, the decision was possibly a bit late, but the boys hadn’t been out of the apartment, and Mum wasn’t around so the boys felt like partying. In hindsight, it was a good idea to go, it was a bad idea to not drive like we did the night before.

I drove to Nakheel Harbour & Tower which is the closest metro station with car parking. It’s a bit counter-intuitive as it’s in the opposite way to our direction of travel, but there’s no closer station with a good park.

Finally, the ticket seller agreed Myles needs a card. It’s the smart card ticket for the metro. On every previous trip he didn’t need one, much to his disappointment. To say Myles was over the moon to finally get his card is an understatement.

There was something wrong with the metro on the way in. It stayed at a few of the stations way too long. We missed the 8pm show by the time we left home, driven to Nakheel, caught the metro, and got off, caught the bus to the mall. It’s amazing how long things can take, with just a few delays here and there. I couldn’t bear to turn the boys around without seeing the show, so we perservered.

I was glad we did perservere. The show was great. Lewis’s reaction was again gold – for the big water jets he’d shoot his arms up, and yell “Wow!”.

When the show finished Myles said he was hungry. I knew there was something I forgot in my bag 😐 We got some fries from fatburgers inside, and used the bathrooms, then it was time for the next water show so we got to see the 9pm one also. It’s amazing how the Dubai crowd gets bigger as the night gets more late. And it’s unsurprising why all the poor little kids are getting more and more rowdy.

The second show was better than the first, so very worthwhile to stick around – although the boys are now nearly 2 hours beyond their bedtime.

When the show finished about 10 minutes later we made our way through the dense crowd and got on the shuttle bus. It left within a couple of minutes, joy! But we knew our faith in public transport was displaced when we arrived at the Dubai Mall & Burj Khalifa station and saw the station doors shut and maybe 300 people standing outside. The odd taxi driving past was getting swarmed by a dozen or so frantic people.

We stood for 5 minutes before I made a chase game with the boys to keep them occupied. We saw the doors open, but only to let a police man come out and swing his baton at people trying to force their way in. I also saw some of the families being redirected to the other doors, so we followed. There were less people there, but the crowd was just as aggressive. The worker asked us to go yet another door to get in, which we did. By the time we reached that door the group was nearly 100 strong. The door was now open with a police man was yelling loudly in Arabic. Then I heard him say families only – so I started making my way through the mostly male crowd.

In Dubai there’s a belief that local Emiratis get preferential treatment by the police and many other agencies. That night the myth was busted. A group of local boys tried to squeeze past this policeman, and the policeman didn’t blink and swung his baton with such force to send them back and yelled some further Arabic words I imagined some pretty short translations to. Another guy trying to get through also got smashed in the face with the policeman yelling “where’s your family!”.

"Policeman with baton"

Myles picture of the policeman “ples” with baton – drawn on the Metro trip home

To avoid the same treatment, I displayed my boys like they were a premiership trophy I had just won. Myles told me afterwards apparently the intense policeman actually smiled at him as we made our way through, which was a nice touch.

Once we were on the train it was quite a relief, but the train didn’t move for some time. Finally it set off, and we were moving. A nice European guy insisted I take his seat as I was holding a sleeping Lewis at this point.

We passed my usual station of Dubai Internet City (DIC) to get to the car. I actually contemplated whether it would be quicker to get off and taxi home – and leave the car at the station. I decided against it. This became proof you should always go with your first instinct. One station later, the train was left stationary for 10 minutes. Then there was an announcement it’d be delayed by another 10 minutes. I decided to give up, and try my luck finding a taxi to get us straight home.

Many people had decided to ditch the train before me, so there was already a violent tussle on the street for taxis between those people. Instead we tried the shuttle bus which would get us back to DIC. The driver had very limited English, but it was clear he wasn’t moving for another 14 minutes. It had to be the best option. Both boys fell asleep on the way. Then we were able to cross the overpass and hail a taxi to get us back to our apartment about 5 minutes away.

I usually hate catching taxis with a passion, but it was like a lovely dream compared to the prior two metro rides and three bus rides.

When we walked into our building Myles eyes were barely open, and I was carrying Lewis who was nodding in and out of sleep.

My watch said 11:40pm as we reached the long hallway from the lift to our apartment. Although Lewis was terribly tried, he still quietly suggested “run”, referring to the normal race the three of us have to the front door. But he was happy enough with my suggestion for a cuddle.

The metro for the most part is great, but when it fails, the whole system fails. I (jokingly) suggested Myles should toss his new Nol card in the bin cause we’ll never trust catching a metro ever again. We’ll just limit our trips to times when we won’t be so inconvenienced by such delays.

The next morning we caught the metro to Nakheel Harbor & Tower to pick up our car. Against all odds the metro worked like clockwork, and my car was fine. I was half-expecting as the night before was so disastrous that my car would have been towed or something as the icing on the cake.