Are you a Dubai resident? Then you must know everyone is always mobile and on the go. Check out these apps that can help simplify the way you live life in this awesome city.
I am sure a huge percentage of you own a smartphone. While smartphones does its purpose of providing an easier way to communicate with each other, apps have somehow changed the way we use them. Most apps let you do everything right from the device – from paying bills to even doing groceries. It has virtually changed the way we do daily tasks.
Here in the UAE (particularly Dubai), there has been a huge push for making most, if not all, of the government services available online. There was also the major drive to make mobile apps for these services available on every platform so that every user has the ability to use it whichever smartphone they may own.
There was also a bunch of local (and other famous) apps that has a permanent place on my smartphone that makes doing complicated tasks easier. Read on as I share some of my top picks.
Transportation and Navigation
There are numerous ways on how you can explore Dubai – from the Dubai Metro to the buses and even the water taxis. If you don’t fancy public transport, you can simply rent a car and discover the city for yourself. The city can be confusing to navigate for newcomers, and with establishments being built and new ones opening almost every week, it can confusing even for longtime residents. So I always keep these apps handy on my smartphone.
1) Uber/Careem – Some of you may already be familiar with the private taxi service Uber and Careem. The two services are the same thing, with Uber coming from an international background, while Careem is all home grown here in the UAE. The concept is simple: you download the app on your smartphone and simply sign up and connect your credit card. After that, you can simply enter where you would want to be picked up and dropped off, along with a time and date. You can then pay the amount while you wait for your ride – which is neatly displayed on a map so you know if it is on the way. It costs a little more than a normal taxi fare, but the added convenience make it a worthy choice for me, especially when I cannot hail down a taxi.
2) RTA Smart Taxi – There are many taxis available in Dubai, though it can be a hassle at times trying to flag them down especially during rush hour. Thankfully, the RTA (Roads and Transport Authority) has released an app that pretty much works like Uber and Careem. You can easily book a taxi by simply shaking your phone (literally) and a small map will show you the exact location of the taxi that has been assigned to pick you up. It is not as fancy as Uber or Careem, but it’s definitely cheaper.
RTA Smart Taxi is free and is available for iOS and Android.
3) Dubai Metro – The Dubai Metro is probably the most convenient way to explore the city, especially since it has stations to nearly every Dubai landmark there is. While using the metro is an easy task, I sometimes get confused with the stations. Thankfully RTA’s Dubai Metro app helps you see all the stations in an easy to follow format, along with additional information such as fines and train timings. It doesn’t do much, but it beats bringing a physical map inside the train. Also, I wish RTA can update the app to include real-time tracking for the trains – which can add to a more interactive experience.
Dubai Metro is free and is currently available only for iOS devices.
4) RTA Dubai – If you just want to know the basics of public transportation in the UAE including the some information for private vehicle owners, you can check out the RTA Dubai app. It contains information on everything you need to know about transportation rules and regulations. It might be a bore if you look at it, but it has a hidden gem: beneath the menus is an easy-to-use paid parking companion that lets you pay for parking through the app. Simply enter your plate number, the area code which you are parking in and the number of hours you need and the amount will simply be charged on your phone bill. Saves time for you going to the parking meter and dropping all those coins.
RTA Dubai is free and available for iOS and Android.
5) Wojhati – Wojhati is RTA’s journey planner that gives you a detailed breakdown of what mode of transport you need to take when going to a certain destination. It initially was launched as a website, but the RTA has also released an accompanying app you can install on your smartphone. You can enter a starting and final destination and Wojhati will give the bus or train that you would need to take, complete with timings and other relevant information.
Wojhati is free and is available for iOS and Android.
6) Google Maps – This app needs no explanation. Google Maps maybe one of the best navigation apps out there. I love how accurate the app is when giving you directions whether you are driving or using public transport. The best part is you can save maps for offline use, which is perfect when you do not have a data connection available.
7) Waze – Waze is more of a community-based traffic and navigation app. It works great for drivers, since it can give you real-time traffic situations that are being reported by other drivers – which can help you save time and gas money on your commute. It also maps out roads and places that has speed traps and radars, allowing for a more cautious (and safe) driving.
Utility apps are a rarity here in the UAE and only until recently that companies and government entities have started making apps that could lessen the hassles of paying bills or making an inquiry about a certain service. Paying your monthly bills would normally mean lining up in a queue that normally takes a lot of time. Thankfully these apps make it easier to do that – plus, it’s free and available in English and Arabic.
1) Etisalat – Etisalat offers wide range of services ranging from mobile to internet solutions for home and office. They’ve just recently released their own app for iOS and Android that makes paying bills even easier. The app can also give you the location of the nearest service center along with the option to recharge your mobile prepaid plan or even pay for a friend’s.
2) Du – Du has also redesigned their app to provide a more fluid experience. Aside from letting you access an FAQ that can answer of all your inquiries, it also lets you view your current bills and pay them right from the app. You can also access all services and subscribe to them without having to call customer service or even go to a service center.
3) DEWA – The revamped interface and feature set for the DEWA (Dubai Electricity & Water Authority) app now makes it even more functional. It offers anything and everything you need to know about about DEWA – from billing inquiries to service requests, and it even has a careers section if you are interested in applying. It’s a must have on your smartphone if you are a Dubai resident.
Buy and Sell
I normally have buy and sell apps on my smartphone just so that I can have access to various listings about things I can buy at a cheaper price compared to when purchasing them on a retail outlet. It may not be a common practice by everyone here but as they say, ‘another man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. Check out these buy and sell apps that I regularly use.
1) Dubizzle – Dubizzle may be one of the most famous websites in the UAE. It is basically Craigslist, but is designed to focus more on the region. You can sell anything on the site from the classifieds section, or simply look up vacancies on the jobs section, even check for places to rent or buy. While the website is already functional, the accompanying app makes it even easier to browse these categories from your smartphone.
Dubizzle is free and is available for iOS and Android.
2) Sallety – This is another app from the Dubai government and it may be the most useful one. It is a service that provides you with the latest information and prices on some of the basic commodities available in the UAE. It aggregates details from some of the top hypermarkets in the country that includes LuLu Hypermarket, Carrefour, Spinneys, Emirates Co-op, Union Co-op, HyperPanda, Choitrams, AlMaya Supermarket and Aswaaq. From the listing, you can check and compare prices so you can make a choice on where to do your groceries next time.
3) Nearbuy – This app is particularly interesting since it is a location aware app that tells you if there is an ongoing sale nearby (Near-buy – get it?). It gives you a snapshot of the latest sales or discounts that you may be interested in checking so rather than looking them up from various sources online or from anywhere, you can simply check the app. Nearbuy covers nearly 100 brands ranging from clothing, shoes, furniture and even electronics. Pretty neat, right?
These apps should pretty much have you covered on an everyday basis. Since they’re multiplatform and free, you’re basically not taking any risks downloading them. Try them out and it might make your everyday routines easier.
Think I missed an app that’s worth including? Share them with me on the comments below.