There are people who get by in Dubai without their own cars. Like any large city, there are areas of the city where people set up and live entire lives quite happily using public transit. Dubai has plentiful and relatively inexpensive taxis, buses and an expanding metro system . (It’s a single line now, but more lines are in the works.) The bus stops and metro stations are impeccably clean, safe and air-conditioned. The metro doesn’t run very late, as Amy, her colleague, and I learned at 10:34 the other night, but it’s otherwise user-friendly.

Water taxis are also user-friendly and comfortable

Of course, one’s success in building a mass transit-dependent life involves a number of factors, the greatest of which might be location. If we chose an apartment in a high-rise tower or a townhouse on the Palm, maybe. The kids can ride a bus to school. M’barek’s job out in Jebel Ali Free Zone might be close enough to a station to manage–if he didn’t have to run errands all over the city as part of his job. Where we are staying now, in Tecom, one of the newest parts of the city, it’s treacherous to walk; no sidewalks.

Anyway, the kids will be riding a bus to school–that was decided as soon as we picked a school. We won’t be living in Al Barsha, near the school. We looked at a few villas there, but finding something that suited us would probably have taken several months. The market is weird. We ended up choosing a place in Jumeirah, a section of the city with a more relaxed, oceanside feel, and we’re hoping the little corner of Jumeirah we’ve chosen turns out to be friendly and nice.

But we’d be creating more hardship for ourselves if we decided to forego car ownership. M’barek, at the very least, needs a work vehicle. I may have won him over on the one-car approach, though. My hope is that, if the children ride a bus to school, we really don’t need a second vehicle. At any rate, I suppose we’ll see, and I’d rather discover I need a second car than own two cars and let one waste away in a garage.

We started the hunt for a used vehicle before M’barek even arrived in Dubai; he started arranging meetings to see SUVs upon his own arrival. I don’t know how many SUVs we’ve inquired after, how many he has seen, and certainly not how many classified ads we’ve sifted through in the search. But today, we hope, we found the car we need. A good car, at a good price, we hope. We took a drive down to Jumeirah to see a man about a 2007 Subaru Outback with only about 25,000 miles. Hoping to hand over the cash and register it tomorrow.

And while he’s at it, M’barek can pay the parking ticket he scored down in the old city yesterday.

Because a lot is riding on...that boat.


7 responses to “Wheels

  • mollie

    I totally get the 1 or 2 car dilemma. When we moved last year we had 2 cars and took one off the insurance to save $$, gas, and we realized everything was within walking distance for the most part. After 15 months, and my husband finding a job, the 2nd car was ressurected, but I still walk everywhere. I’d love to see pictures of your neighborhoods Jo!

  • aria

    If it were me I’d take the water taxi EVERYWHERE. Definitely looks like the most relaxing way to travel – if there is such a thing in Dubai!

  • Aaron

    We’ve gone down to one car and it’s great. Every situation is different, I know, but in a city with public transport, add some bicycles and you’re golden. Even look into folding bikes (Brompton, Dahon) for easily lugging onto buses/into taxis. And good call on the Subaru. We loved our Forester. Great cars.

    • Old Mucker

      We are antsy for the bikes to arrive. They should be coming shortly after we move into the villa. It may take a while for me to let the kids ride in the traffic, but I imagine I could bike to the gym or plastic surgeon, or wherever it is women in Dubai go while their men are at work…

  • Alia

    I am so happy that things are starting to settle down. I miss you. Congrats on the villa and the car. Your next adventure is furniture shopping!

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