In many big cities around the world, parking is almost always a hot-button issue. Congestion in cities often means a lack of available parking, or parking spaces that come with a high hourly cost. Despite its status as a bustling metropolis, Dubai offers plenty of parking for its residents and tourists, even within the emirate’s most popular areas.
Malls and shopping centres
Shopping is pretty much a national pastime in the UAE and Dubai offers an unrivalled variety of malls that attract strong footfall throughout the year. One of the main factors that continues to attract people to Dubai’s malls is convenience. Mall parking garages are usually quite large with most venues offering free parking for at least the first three or four hours.
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Parking at the Mall of the Emirates, a popular option for tourists and residents, is free on weekends and up to four hours on weekdays, with the first additional hour only costing a mere AED 20. Arguably the most visited mall in the city, Dubai Mall is an exception as the mega shopping centre offers visitors free parking all-day, not to mention over 14,000 parking spaces.
Leisure attractions and public parks
Dubai’s popular entertainment and leisure attractions usually offer free regular parking such as Global Village, Dubai Parks & Resorts, IMG World, City Walk, Dubai Frame, Al Seef, Downtown Dubai and many others. Most hotels and restaurants in the city will either offer free parking for guests and visitors or validate stamped valet cards which is very convenient for those who want to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot nearby.
On most days of the week, nature enthusiasts can enjoy their time at popular public spots such as Safa Park, Zabeel Park and Burj Park without paying for parking, while there may be a small parking charge applied on weekends. Smaller neighborhood parks, on the other hand, typically offer free parking seven days a week.
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Commercial areas and metro stations
As many businesses in Dubai are located within clusters and zones that see a lot of traffic, most commercial areas have metered parking zones with standard charges of AED 4 per hour. However, it is not uncommon to find empty plots and sand areas within these zones where you can park free of charge. This is the case at Dubai World Trade Centre which welcomes a high volume of visitors to its exhibitions, trade fairs and shows throughout the year. Dubai Design District is one of the few free zones in the emirate that offers free parking for tenants and visitors.
A number of metro stations in Dubai offer the “Park and Ride” option for passengers, making public transportation a more convenient and affordable way to get around town. These include Rashidiya Station, and Nakheel Harbour and Tower Station on the Red Line and Etisalat Station on the Green Line.
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Other tips and tricks
Residents should also keep in mind that all metered parking areas managed by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai offer free parking 24 hours a day every Friday and during public holidays. In addition, drivers should look out for smart parking systems that are widespread throughout parking garages in Dubai. These systems detect available parking spaces and provide instant information to visitors in advance, enabling them to save time and money.