If you want to travel to The Palm in Dubai, you typically go there by rental car, taxi… Or by The Palm Monorail (also sometimes: Dubai Momorail or Palm Jumeirah Monorail). The transport system is definitely iconic. During a stay in the United Arab Emirates in May 2021, I tested the transport system and had a look at every station. Here are my thoughts.
The Palm Monorail – Tracks and Rolling Stock
The Palm Monorail is operating on two parallel tracks, one on each direction. The platform typically located in the middle between the tracks, the only exception is Gateway, where there is one platform for arriving and one for departing trains (see below). The track beams sizes 800 mm x 1,400 mm.
The trains used are the standard configuration of Hitachi monorails, which means that each train has a capacity of 348 passengers.Even though the trains look a bit like that, they (of course) do not use magnetic levitation or similar technologies. The carriages may travel at a top speed of 70 km/h, but in fact have an average speed of 35 km/h. The carriages may be operated manually, but typically work without a driver.There is security staff in the trains, though.
The trains are however fit in a very comfortable setup – thus, it is highly unlikely that the monorail is really operating with 348 passengers. The monorail system itself states 302 passengers as their capacity. There are some bench alike seats at the end of the car. I especially loved the plushy almost sofa-alike seating in the middle, which is very comfortable. Of course, all cars are air conditioned.
The Palm Monorail – Network
The Palm Monorail currently consists of four stations. Gateway is the only stop outside the Jumeirah Palm currently. I give a detailed view on the stations below. One station, The Pointe, is yet to be opened soon.The Palm Monorail is somehow connected (see below) to the Marina Tram system, but not to the Metro. This is due to the fact that it was planned to be prolonged until the Metro stop Dubai Internet City (connection to the M1), but the financial crisis stopped that project. When a train arrives, two doors open, one at the train station and the train doors itself, to prevent falling. All stations come with sanitary facilities and train status monitors.
The system length is currently 5.45kms. Including all stops, the travel times is slightly less than 10 minutes between the two terminal stations. The monorail has a theoretical capacity of 40,000 passengers per day. Even in high peak times, the system does not exceed 3,000 passengers per day. Thus, only two of the four ordered trains are operating.
The Palm Monorail – Tariff and Timetable
At the time of writing (and the time of visiting), trains ran every 15 minutes. This is also the normal timetable, at least for off-peak. Any day, the first train operates at 9:00 hrs from Gateway, while the last one returns from Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark at 22:00 hrs.
The Palm Monorail is not part of Dubai public transport and is thus not driven by the RTA. The owner is Nakheel, the managing company of the Jumeirah Palm. This also means that a tickets for the metro and bus system (including day tickets etc.) are not valid. Even if you are owning a prepaid NOL card, it is currently not possible to pay with them. This is, however, expected to change soon. You either buy tickets at the station or use a debit/credit card. Fare prices depend on the trip duration. A single trip from Gateway to Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark is 20 AED (roughly four Euro). Please note that round trip tickets are discounted, the return for that route is 30 AED. If you want to get out of the monorail here and there, a 35 AED day ticket may be favorable.
The Palm Monorail – Station by Station
I had a look at every station during my visit in May 2021. Here are my thoughts.
1. Palm Gateway
For most tourists, Palm Gateway is the most likely starting point of the trip the ride with the monorail. From a touristic point of view, unfortunately, there is hardly anything around. The station is located at the edge of a major parking garage (which is not free of charge!). In addition, there is a nice beach and the Mirage Hotel as well as some business and residential buildings.
Gateway does give connection to the RTA, as you can walk to the Palm Jumeirah 1 station of the tram system. However, this walk is really bothering and not touristic at all, as you have to walk through the massive parking garage. At least you cannot miss it as they painted the route on the ground.The last steps to the tram are then taken via a covered footbridge. On top of the not that romantic walk (which is likely about 800 meters) is – obviously – that it is not air conditioned. Enjoy sweating in summer!
2. Al Ittihad Park
The first station on The Palm is Al Ittihad Park. The area is majorly residential. A quite nice park area has been built underneath / around the monorail tracks, which makes it quite attractive. The Palm Monorail website also praises the Golden Mile Galleria close to the staion. However, it did not feel attractive to me at all – the next stop features much better shopping.
3. Nakheel Mall
A lovely mall (I might publish some pictures in a separate posting, so that I do not feature it in here) and the new attraction on The Palm, The View At The Palm, are two key reasons to get off on this station for locals and tourists.The mall is a beauty, the view is great. You might not know too much about this place, but it is definitely worth a glimpse.
4. The Pointe (Under Construction)
Excuse me for the blue-ish pictures taken through the windows. The new station The Pointe connects you to a lovely new spot on The Palm. The Pointe is a beautiful looking dining and recreation area, which still has not reached its full potential. For example, they had some Disney themed water fountain show right after my visit in Dubai. Will be interesting to see how this area is developing.
5. Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark
If there wasn’t Burj al Arab, the wouldn’t be any doubt about which is the most iconic hotel architecture in Dubai. No matter if you are just go to Atlantis The Palm Hotel to have a look at its size and style or whether you go for the The Lost Chambers Aquarium or the Aquaventure Waterpark, you likely find some enjoyable stuff to do. I did exclude staying in the hotel – because I just cannot imagine that one is really crossing the footbridge and the parking garage at Gateway with a somehow significant amount of luggage.
The Palm Monorail – My View
The pictures may look nice, but overall, the The Palm Monorail is of course a fail. The rationale are finally two factors: first of all, the missing connection to the RTA local transport. If I need a taxi anyway to get to Gateway, why shouldn’t I go for a ride on the island? Taxi prices are cheap in Dubai – it is much more comfortable and likely even cheaper to stay in the cab. A minor rationale is of course also that it is not part of the local transport. You can travel the whole public transport (which e.g. included 75 km of metro lines) for 20 AED with a tourist ticket. The monorail is just too expansive compared to that.
Finally, there are two reasons to use the transport in my point of view. The first is easy: you simply like it and want to try it out. It is also a nice thing to tell your beloved ones when you come home after a Dubai holiday. The second one is: you want to commute within the island, especially between Nakheel Mall and the Atlantis The Palm attractions (soon also The Point). You don’t need to care for your car or a taxi feel it is a relatively convenient choice for these trips – even though this is not the reason why they built it. Interesting to see whether it will be turned down one day or finally properly connected to the public transport system.
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