Getting Oriented

Several distinct zones and quarters, each with its own purpose and atmosphere, make up the city of Dubai. The older districts around the mouth of Dubai Creek—Deira, Al-Rigga, and Bur Dubai—have developed over the last 150 years into a maze of narrow streets and alleyways that are often choked with traffic. However, the museums and attractions here are clustered close together, making this area the most walkable in the city. It's easy and a pleasure to cross the creek on the abra (boat) service, a short journey of a few minutes, to get from one bank to the other.

Sheikh Zayed Road is the multilane road that links old Dubai with the newer Dubai districts to the south—about 15 miles to the southernmost communities. It runs 3 miles inland from the ocean and parallel with the coastline. Every well-marked intersection off Sheikh Zayed Road leads to a different district—including Dubai Marina, Emirates Hills, Downtown, and Jumeirah—as well as that area's major attractions. This road is the thoroughfare for most of the traffic traveling north and south, so it's always busy, but jammed from 5 pm until 7:30. By taxi, the trip from Deira to Dubai Marina takes about 30 minutes.

It's not necessarily commonplace in Dubai to use building numbers in street addresses. People navigate by referencing major hotels, roads, intersections, or other well-known landmarks. Taxi drivers know how to reach all the main attractions, but if you're looking for something off the beaten path—say, a particular specialty store—find out which hotel, mall, or other geographical marker is close to your destination. Direct your driver to that location if he does not know your specific one. GPS apps on your Smartphone are quite effective, not only to find your way around, but to assist with managing traffic at peak times.


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