Dubai, UAE Wheelchair Travel Review

Recently I was invited to travel to Dubai for a competition call “UAE Robotics for Good.” My team ended up winning the international award and grand prize! Dubai is a place if you don’t have money, you can’t really do anything. If you’re looking to see very large buildings, then yes go to Dubai. It’s like Las Vegas: Big, Flashy, Money.

Getting around Dubai: Wheeling and Transportation
While I was there, I had some time to go around and check out the accessibility of Dubai. From first glance it is very flat, so you will not have to deal with any hills. The only hills are the skyline of skyscrapers which is pretty much any direction you can see. Lots and lots of tall buildings, but you can still find just areas of just homes and old town.

One piece of advice is to bring along a friend to help you get up some tall curbs, or else you will have to go on the street. The street can be mostly safe because most people are looking, but there are some crazy drivers out there. In opinion access in Dubai is ok but not great. They’ve done a decent job at transportation, but lack the main infrastructure of being able to wheel around the city successfully by yourself. For a new city I expected more.

For transportation Dubai has accessible public buses, an accessible metro rail, and an accessible tram. I never got to ride the bus system, unfortunately. The tram only goes a short distance, it’s used for fast travel around media city, internet city, and Dubai marina. The Metro goes from north to south of the city of Dubai, including the airport. All the stops have access to get on and off the tram easily. The fare is not bad to get around. The only problem is literally to get into the Tram station may not be accessible. But that is part of a bigger issue with lack of curb cut outs period in this city. I found dozens of cub cut outs leading to no curb but outs. But certain areas, like around Burj Khalifa, seemed to be completely accessible.

Access to Places and Things to Do
If you go just a few miles away from that area to The Old Souk and find almost no access into any store or going around the streets. If you are ok with being picked up in your wheelchair and taken inside the store, that is the extent of their access. The one accessible thing I found in The Old Souk area was the entrance to the Metro, Thank God. There were no accessible taxis that I found. They do have bus tours that takes you all around Dubai, which the bus is accessible. But where it stops may not always have access.

If you are into shopping, then Dubai is the place for you. They have the largest mall in the world The Mall of Dubai, which is located at the Burj Khalifa. The mall is where you enter to go to the top of the Burj Khalifa. I went up to the 125 floor, but you can go as high as 143 if you pay a little more. There is another mall, the Mall of the Emirates, which has an indoor snow ski run. And if you are looking for textiles, there is the Old Souk I mentioned earlier. All of these places have direct pathways if you use the Metro. Which I advise to use the direct pathways because the streets are not so wheelchair friendly.

I advise do not go to the zoo. That’s all I will say about that. If you like aquariums though they have a few. One being the second largest aquarium in the world, the Dubai Mall Aquarium and two The Lost Chambers Aquarium at the Palm Atlantis Hotel. Both are pretty stunning. Dubai gave me the impression that I need to be spending money to have fun, which I don’t really agree with. It’s a place I could be there for a few days max and feel fulfilled with seeing Dubai. I was there for 9 days and that was more than I could handle.

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