This week Out & About UAE decided to take to the tourist trail and ride the Palm Jumeirah Monorail – the first (and only) monorail in the Middle East.
Gateway Towers station is where your journey starts and trying to find it, is an adventure in itself (even taxi drivers seem unable to locate it)… so here are. some handy driving directions to help you get there:.
- Driving along Al Sufouh Road towards Dubai Marina the road separates, keep to the right which is signposted Palm Jumeirah (as if you are going to drive onto the Palm)
- Just before the exit for Palm Jumeirah, the road splits again, this time keep in the left lane (still heading in the direction of Dubai Marina). The right lane will go onto the Palm.
- You will go under an overpass. It is here that you must turn right, off road and onto an unpaved area (there is a small sign with a picture of a monorail train on it).
- Drive across the un-paved area into the Gateway Towers complex (there is no signage, but there is generally a security guard on site who will point you in the right direction).
- If you do miss the turn off (which is very easy to do), continue on Al Sufouh Road and there is a u-turn after a few hundred meters.
There is no doubt that this is a ridiculous way to access one of Dubai’s tourist attractions, but hopefully things will improve in the future! Once inside the Gateway Towers complex, head up to the third floor – where you can park your car for access to either the monorail or the tram. Parking is free and having been here once, we can guarantee that you will use this great spot in future to access the tram for visits to The Walk/JBR, thus avoiding the crazy traffic in that area. Follow signs from the carpark to the monorail where you must purchase your tickets – 15 AED for a single journey or 25 AED return (children are free).
When we visited, the staff at the monorail were exceptionally friendly, but this is seemingly due to the fact that they don’t seem to encounter many visitors! The platform was eerily quiet and we were virtually the only people riding the rails. The monorail itself was opened in 2009 and runs up the trunk of the Palm Jumeirah to the Atlantis Hotel, a journey of 5.45km travelling at an average speed of 35 mph.
The setup for the monorail is very modern and futuristic, mainly because the trains are entirely driver-less and the Dubai skyline does look like something out of a science fiction film. Unfortunately it is very expensive for what is, essentially a ten minute journey (that would be cheaper in a taxi), but the views are exceptional. Try and secure one of the front seats (position yourself at the far right of the platform if facing the train doors) for the best unrestricted views as you travel up the Palm.
Leaving Gateway Towers, you will see the iconic Burj Arab to your right and then the residential complexes along the trunk of the Palm. You may be surprised to see how much construction is still on-going along the entire length of the Palm and its fronds. As the journey draws to its end, the towering structure of Atlantis appears on the horizon growing ever larger. A quick zip across the open sea, brings you to Atlantis Aquaventure station – the end of the line. The monorail does briefly stop at two other stations: Palm Mall & Trump Tower – but these stations are not currently open. The train stops for a few seconds, the doors do not open and passengers are unable to disembark – though this should change when construction along the Palm is completed and these stations are eventually opened.
Once disembarked at Atlantis, you should visit the awesome waterpark as discussed in our recent blog post ‘The Water Park Rundown.’ You can also access a small section of the Atlantis hotel called the galleries, which contains a number of shops, restaurants and the Lost Chambers Aquarium – though you are restricted from entering the hotel itself. Heading out to the road (East Crescent) allows for views of the Arabian Gulf or the opportunity for a classic selfie in front of Atlantis’ traditionally Arabic facade. There is little else of interest, which is why the monorail’s current target demographic is purely tourists and hotel guests..
Thankfully the monorail runs seven days a week (including Fridays) and the times are the same every day. They are as follows:
From Gateway Towers: 10.00, 10.23, 10.46, 11.09, 11.32, 11.55, 12.18, 12.41, 13.04, 13.27, 13.50, 14.13, 14.36, 14.59, 15.22, 15.45, 16.08, 16.31, 16.54, 17.17, 17.40, 18,03, 18.26, 18.49, 19.12, 19.35, 19.58, 20.21, 20.44, 21.07, 21.30, 21.53
From Atlantis Aquaventure: 10.10, 10.33, 10.56, 11.19, 11.42, 12.05, 12.28, 12.51, 13.14, 13.37, 14.00, 14.23, 14.56, 15.09, 15.32, 15.55, 16.18, 16.41, 17.04, 17.27, 17.50, 18.13, 18.36, 18.59, 19.22, 19.45, 20.08, 20.31, 20.54, 21.17, 21.40, 22.03
It seems as though everything has been put in place to make the monorail an essential element of Dubai’s transport system, though unfortunately, until it is connected with the metro this is unlikely to be the case! The monorail line has a theoretical capacity of 40,000 passengers per day, with trains running every few minutes during peak hours. Currently however, the trains run at twenty minute intervals with very few passengers.
Due to the fact that it is difficult to get to, and far more expensive than the price of a taxi to Atlantis, the monorail is currently a bit of a white elephant – but we recommend that everyone should experience it at least once, if only for the outstanding views on offer. Let’s hope that the planned extension to Dubai Internet City metro station comes to fruition soon, so that more people can take advantage of this unique method of transportation.
- LOCATION: Al Sufouh Road, Dubai (GPS: 25.100360, 55.156357)
- PRICE: A single journey costs 15 AED and a return journey is 25 AED (you can also use two for one Entertainer Vouchers). Unfortunately NOL cards are not currently excepted on the monorail.
- SUITABLE FOR FAMILIES: Children tend to love transportation, and the fact that the monorail is driverless adds a sense of wonder for little ones, who will enjoy pretending that they are in charge of driving the train.
- HANDY TIPS: Don’t take one of the private taxi’s that loiter outside Gateway Towers station, these are ridiculously expensive. Instead walk out to Al Sufouh Road and take a standard RTA licensed taxi from there.
All views within this blog are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, unless otherwise stated.