10 must-have iPhone apps for Dubai expats
By Samar Owais · June 22, 2012
If you have an iPhone and are an expat in Dubai, there are some iPhone applications (apps) you absolutely must have.
Not only will they make your life easier but they’ll make living in Dubai a breeze by giving you all the information you need at your fingertips.
There’s never been a time where I needed to find some information and not found it through these apps.
1. Dubai City Travel Guide – Guide Pal
This is the ideal app for the new expat. If you’ve just landed in Dubai and want to find out more about your adoptive country, then this should be the first app you download.
This app lists the places new arrivals should see and do, places they should eat and shop at along with places to go to in order to experience the nightlife of Dubai.
It also has a map integrated in it which picks up on your location in Dubai and tells you which places are within one mile radius.
Download: Dubai City Travel Guide – Guide Pal
2. Definitely Dubai
Definitely Dubai is the perfect app for your introduction to Dubai. With an ‘About Dubai’ section that has all the basic information and answers to common expat questions, it’s a must have. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
You’ll also find important Dubai numbers which include the police, fire department, ambulance, various customer care centres, taxis, airports and airlines. Healthcare information such as a list of clinics, hospitals, medical centres and pharmacies are also available. This app is so comprehensive that the only thing missing is a list of companies providing healthcare insurance.
They also have a deals section where you can get anywhere from 5% to 50% off on hotels, restaurants, travel etc.
Every time I want to eat at a new restaurant or go on a desert safari, I always check this app to see if there’s a deal available.
Download: Definitely Dubai
3. Dubai Calendar
Dubai Calendar is ideal for a new expat who is clueless about what’s happening in Dubai. You can browse through the events happening in Dubai by month or by category.
You can even find out what’s happening near you by using their map.
Before I downloaded this app, I had no idea there were so many events for families and children! It is my go to source for art exhibitions and various festivals held in the city every month.
Over the years, I’ve found the International Jazz Festival, International Film Festival and the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature well before their social media efforts got savvy enough to reach the masses.
Download: Dubai Calendar
4. Dubai Metro
This application isn’t as good as it could be but it still has extremely relevant information for metro users. During the months I took the metro to work, I regularly used this app to find out information on metro timings, fares, rules and fines.
This app focuses on only giving you information though. It’ll tell you the various methods and places you can top up your Nol card, but it won’t let you do it through the app.
Download: Dubai Metro
5. RTA Dubai
The RTA Dubai app is a lot more functional than Dubai Metro. It allows you to book taxis and finds the closest metro station to you. Its fare calculator lets you know the exact amount going someplace is going to cost you – if you use Dubai’s public transport.
For road users, it lists tourist places, shopping malls, hospitals and also petrol stations! Not only that but you can also get yourself a mobile parking ticket if you’re parking in a charged parking zone.
I love the application for this feature alone. I no longer have to stand in the blazing sun putting in coins to get a ticket which I’d then have to place in my car. Could be just my experience but I’ve found that ticket machines love eating coins and not printing out a ticket!
With this app though, I can just park, log it through the RTA Dubai application, and go.
Since most places in Dubai now have paid parking, you can’t afford to not use this app.
Download: RTA Dubai
6. Time Out
Time Out Dubai is a popular lifestyle magazine. Their app contains information about the night life, music, restaurants, films and hotels. They’re categorized by popularity, price and critics’ choice.
Any time I’m confused about what to do or where to eat on a Thursday night, the Time Out app always has excellent suggestions.
In fact, this app is responsible for my finding the best fish in town.
Download: Time Out Dubai
iDubai is the official app of Dubai Municipality. This is also one of the few applications that make use of QR Codes.
But what really blew me away about this app was their map. It lists everything from government offices to clinics, banks, hospitals, hotels, mosques, parks, school and malls.
Once you’ve chosen which place you want to see on the map, it also finds the one closest to your location.
I once used this app to find a pharmacy in an area I was unfamiliar with.
8. Downtown Dubai
The Downtown area is Dubai’s pride and joy. The area around Burj Khalifa is called Downtown and is a world in itself.
Having (aptly) dubbed itself ‘The Centre of Now’, this app is your go to source for shopping, entertainment, events, restaurants & cafés, hotels, spas and residential places to live in.
Every place listed in the app comes with its own description and details about their opening hours, phone number, email address and website.
Having worked in an office building in Downtown Dubai this app proved to be a life saver whenever lunch time came around.
Download: Downtown Dubai
9. The Dubai Mall
The world’s largest mall definitely needs an iPhone app of its own. It’s so large that if you don’t know your way around, you can get lost and end up walking for hours before you find the shop you wanted to go to – and I speak from experience.
The Dubai Mall app saves me from the horror of being on the wrong floor and at the wrong end of wherever it is I want to go.
That’s not the only way you can get lost in Dubai Mall though. Folks regularly forget which level or zone they parked their car in. If you’re wondering how someone could possible forget where they parked their car, consider this: The Dubai Mall has 10 parking levels and 26 parking zones.
Luckily, this app lets you save your car park location. And in case you still can’t find it, it’s got a ‘Take Me To My Car’ feature you can enable.
Download: Dubai Mall
10. Grand Cinema
Going to the cinema in Dubai is an experience. From IMAX to 3D to Digital – Dubai has it all and works hard to make your cinematic experience as awesome as possible.
Grand Cinemas are one of the biggest cinema chains in the country and have the only IMAX in Dubai.
Their app tells which movies are releasing the coming weekend, their timings and even let you buy tickets online.
If you’re unsure of a movie, you can also watch its trailer in the app.
While there are other cinema chains in Dubai too (VOX, Reel etc.), I prefer Grand simply because they’re pretty much everywhere.
Download: Grand Cinema