Dubai travel apps

20 of the Best Dubai Travel Apps To Download Before Your Trip

By Patricia Rey Mallén Android, iOSNo Comments


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Ritzy, ostentatious, flabbergasting, awe-inducing, overwhelming: Dubai is not a city that elicits lukewarm reactions in travelers.

Whether you’re in town on a long layover or you’ve chosen to spend a few days exploring (or lounging beside the hotel pool,) arming yourself with a few useful tools will help you make the most of your time in the Emirate’s tourism hotspot.

These are 20 of the best apps for traveling in Dubai.

Dubai travel apps

Transportation & Navigation

Careem

Essentially the Middle East’s alternative to Uber, the Careem ride-sharing app is one of the most useful for visitors to Dubai.

Dubai has decent public transport, but depending on your needs, the time you need to go somewhere, or even the weather situation (read: hot, hotter, or melting), chances are you’ll turn to a private ride at some point.

Prices are good too. A ride from Jumeirah to the airport will go for around 50 AED (~$13 USD), for example, and both cash and cards are accepted.

You know the deal: fire up the app, request a ride, check the fare estimate, and wait for your driver. Rides can be booked in advance as needed.

iOS and Android, free

Wojhati

Even for those who love to walk, exploring Dubai on foot can be a challenge. Depending on the season and time of day, walking varies from merely uncomfortable to almost impossible. When it all gets too much, do as the locals do and rely on public transport instead.

Dubai’s public transportation network is extensive and reliable, including buses, water buses, monorail, trams, and metro. Navigating it all can be daunting, though, and that’s where Wojhati comes in.

This app, an official service from Dubai’s Roads & Transports Authority, helps you make sense of all five systems, with timetables and suggestions for the shortest route to your destination. It advises on any potential delays, lets you share the trip with others, and (crucially) includes the amount of walking time involved.

iOS and Android, free

RTA Dubai Drive

If you’d rather sit behind the wheel, you can do that too: renting a car in Dubai is a straightforward process, and gives greater freedom of movement. You’re free from being tied down to a transportation schedule, or somebody else’s availability to take you where you want to go.

RTA Dubai Drive is also backed by the city’s transportation authority. The app helps deal with some of the most cumbersome parts of driving, including tracking down somewhere to park, paying for said parking, and finding your way around.

You can even apply for a local driver’s license and number plate, if you happen to like Dubai so much that you decide to move there.

iOS and Android, free

Food & Restaurants

Dubai travel apps

BonApp

When deciding where to eat in Dubai, check out BonApp for recommendations and deals. A start-up with a social purpose, the app offers 30-50% discounts in restaurants around the city.

The premise, and the reason behind such attractive discounts, is as simple as it is praiseworthy: BonApp offers meals made from surplus food that restaurants would end up throwing out at the end of the day. This way, the restaurant wins, the customer wins, and the planet wins as well.

Working with over 70 restaurants, there’s a wealth of options for both pick-up and dine-in. Whether you feel like something light and fresh or hearty local fare, BonApp’s got you covered.

iOS and Android, free

Talabat

Don’t feel like going out tonight? No problem: Talabat is here to bring you whatever you’re feeling like for dinner (or lunch, or breakfast for that matter.)

Local cuisine and international offers are listed, including chains you may be missing from home (we all do from time to time) and delicacies you won’t find anywhere else. Advance ordering is available, so you can arrange for your food to be delivered to the comfort of your hotel room whenever you like.

You can pay with debit and credit cards online, or cash on delivery. If you’re an iPhone user, Apple Pay is also available.

iOS and Android, free

Language

TenguGo

Intimidated by Arabic? You shouldn’t be. Not only because in Dubai you’ll have virtually no problem getting by in English, but also because you can pick up some local words on the plane ahead of time.

TenguGo makes it easy to get acquainted with the Arabic alphabet and learn the basics of the language before you set foot in Dubai. With integrated lessons, flashcards, and quizzes, the app will help you learn to count from 1 to 99 and read Arabic text (even if you have no idea what it means!).

In “Arabic 1,” which is as far as the modules go for now, you can get familiar with greetings, culture, and basic grammar. You may not be fluent by the time you land, but you’ll at least be a step closer to it.

iOS and Android, free

Bravolol

If you’d like to take your language learning a step further, get your feet wet with listening and speaking Arabic using Bravolol.

This app focuses mainly on teaching you how to correctly speak and understand the language. An animated parrot guides you through the modules, focusing on commonly-used Arabic words and phrases.

Listen, repeat, and memorize words and expressions wherever you are. There’s no internet connection necessary, as it works fine offline.

iOS and Android, free

Information

Dubai tower

Visit Dubai

The official app from Dubai’s Department of Tourism is a wealth of information, and should be your first stop when planning a visit.

There’s plenty of info on sights and attractions, which you can then combine to create your own customized itinerary. The app also includes a currency exchange feature (powered by XE), which will come in handy for working out menu prices during dinner or haggling at the souk.

Details on what’s happening around town, along with recommendations opening hours for the various attractions, are also provided. It’s the ideal place to get started planning out your trip.

iOS and Android, free

Dubai Travel Guide

For more in-depth information, turn to a bonafide digital guidebook like Ulmon’s Dubai Travel Guide.

The biggest draw of Ulmon’s city guide apps is their maps. Detailed, comprehensive, and easy to use, they’re also fully downloadable for offline use.

There’s no need to just keep the map as-is and go onto the streets without knowing what you’ll run into (although that’d be fun!). The app lets you browse through its listings of restaurants, sights, and attractions, and select just the ones you like to create your own digital guidebook to Dubai.

iOS and Android, free

GulfNews

Stay up to date with the latest city and regional news via Dubai’s largest media source, Gulf News.

You can filter and organize the app’s home page with the topics that interest you most, including news from back home if you like. The site and app have a comprehensive international section, as well as business, arts, and sports.

You can also opt-in to notifications of breaking news. This includes both traditional news, as well as important local events such as the start or end of Ramadan.

iOS and Android, free

DubaiNow

Run by the city’s eGovernment Department, DubaiNow is geared mostly towards residents and long-term visitors, but many of its services come in handy for travelers as well.

The app has useful information on urban services in general, from housing to visas. It’s the practical listings that are more useful for tourists, however, such as the location of the nearest ATMs, which health centers or pharmacies are open, weather conditions, and prayer times for any specific days.

Sure, it’s not the most exciting information in the world, but you’ll be glad you have it available when you need it.

iOS and Android, free

Entertainment & Attractions

Dubai desert

Dubai Maps and Walks

Feeling antsy and need to explore? If our comments about the weather didn’t put you off earlier, download Dubai Maps and Walks and head out onto the streets.

The app includes several self-guided walking tours around the city. Choose between orientation walks (for those who’ve just landed) to those focused on one area or an aspect of the city like art and culture or nightlife.

All routes are displayed on a map and show estimated walking times. The maps and tours work offline, so roaming or data charges shouldn’t be a concern.

iOS and Android, free (in-app purchases)

ClassPass

Feeling energetic while in Dubai? If getting a sweat on just by walking around isn’t enough, grab ClassPass and hit the gyms and fitness studios instead.

ClassPass lets you take classes in different studios around the city. Whether you feel like yoga, pilates, spinning, HIIT, or boxing, you’ll find it in Dubai, and ClassPass will get you a spot in any of them.

Even better: if you’re in Dubai on a short break, you can try out ClassPass for free for two weeks before deciding to commit. If you’ll be joining the expat ranks in Dubai, prices start at AED159 ($43) a month.

iOS and Android, free

Anghami

Can’t work out without music? Want to have a backing track to your explorations of the city? Give your usual streaming service a break, and use local app Anghami instead.

Described as the “Spotify of Arabia,” Anghami is the first legal streaming service in the Middle East and North Africa, with an impressive catalog of over 30 million songs.

Both international musicians and Arabic artists are available, so you can listen to some of your favorite bands as well as finding new ones while on the road.

You can create playlists and download songs for offline listening even in the free version, albeit with some limitations. Who knows, you may even ditch your usual music app even when you get home!

Keep in mind, however, that artist availability may be restricted in Dubai due to local laws.

iOS and Android, free

The Dubai Mall

“Dubai: a city where we do buy.”

This play on words, uttered by my English teacher when I was eight, was the very first time I heard about Dubai (true story), and it’s stuck with me since.

Whether you’re there specifically for shopping or it’s just a side activity, Dubai is a bustling hub of retail activity. Nowhere is that more obvious than the Dubai Mall.

The mall may no longer be the largest in the world by total area (that accolade was taken by China’s New Century Global Center in 2013), but it is still pretty damn big. With over 13 million square feet and some 1,200 stores, indulging in retail therapy there is a serious business.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the sheer numbers, fear not: the mall’s sleek app will help you find your way. Its comprehensive map will take you wherever you need to go, and alert you if there’s anything interesting going on, including sales, restaurant promotions, and events.

iOS and Android, free

Dubai Calendar

While it may seem that all there is to do in Dubai is eat and shop, that’s not entirely true. Sure, you’re bound to do a little (or a lot) of both, but there’s more to the Emirate than meets the eye.

Dubai’s Department of Tourism makes it easy to know what is going on in the city with its Calendar app. From concerts to temporary exhibits and conferences, or to just generally find out what’s going on while you’re in town, the app is your one-stop resource.

While you can’t buy tickets directly from the app, it’ll point you to where to get them.

iOS and Android, free

WithLocals

Don’t you often wish you had a friend showing you around their hometown? We can’t always count on having a friend living in the places we visit, but we can count on the next best thing: an app that lets locals show off their city to visitors.

Of these, WithLocals has the most options on offer for Dubai, and they’re good ones. From a contrast tour taking you from souks to skyscrapers, to dinner and sunset in the desert, to a whirlwind trip for travelers on layovers, these locals promise to show you a different side of Dubai.

iOS and Android, free

Accommodation

Dubai buildings

Rehlat

A one-stop service, Rehlat allows you to plan your entire trip right from the app. The online travel agency lists hotels and rental cars, along with flights and full travel packages.

The app is especially useful for flights, including over 300 airlines from large international carriers like Etihad or Emirates that will take you to Dubai, to smaller regional providers like Salem Air or Fly Dubai to help expand your trip to another part of the Gulf.

In terms of hotel, don’t be intimidated if you’re traveling on a budget. Rehlat includes both luxury and affordable accommodation, although of course, “affordable” is a relative term in this part of the world.

iOS and Android, free

Clear Trip

Clear Trip is a similar, comprehensive travel booking service, but it skews more towards the budget-conscious crowd. If you’ve been brave enough to come to Dubai with the intention of keeping your costs under control, be sure to download their app.

The service scours the web for the best-priced options, including domestic and regional airlines and properties all around the city. The app has made an effort to make bookings as quick and seamless as possible, shooting for under a minute from start to finish.

iOS and Android, free

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Agoda

We’re big fans of Agoda around here, for several reasons. My love, specifically, is particularly strong when planning a trip to Asia, but Agoda can (and should!) be used in many other parts of the world. Dubai is a great example.

A not-so-affordable city in general, if you are hoping to stay in a budget you’d be right to look away from the Marina and seek something a little different. When you do that, Agoda’s right there to help.

From local B&Bs to hostels to, yes, a capsule hotel, your best bet to find a place to stay in Dubai that doesn’t break the bank is Agoda. Thank us later.

iOS and Android, free


Images via Visit Dubai (feature image), Nacho Pintos (desert), Elisa Sophia (buildings), Linh Do (sunset), Liji Jinaraj (tower), Hindol Bhattacharya (night skyline)

About the Author
Patricia Rey Mallén

Patricia Rey Mallén

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A roaming writer and tech enthusiast, Patricia has been wandering the globe for 10-odd years. A passionate Apple lover, she is familiar with Genius bars from Sydney to Reykjavík to Mexico City. She only vaguely remembers life before the Internet, but will forever long for the days in which mobile phone batteries lasted for over a week.

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