New Salik gates in Dubai: Residents compare public transport, car ownership costs

Here's a breakdown of budgets as revealed by residents living on their own, families and couples


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Mon 22 Jan 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 23 Jan 2024, 8:52 AM

With two new Salik gates announced in Dubai, residents are now taking stock of their expenditure on transport and assessing their options. While there is no denying the convenience and time savings offered by driving a car, Dubai’s public transport offers an affordable way to travel around the city without traffic and parking hassles.

As per a recent KT poll of over 2,500 people, 68% said they'd be looking to make the switch to public transport — in light of the recent announcement — as it would be cheaper. The remainder stated they'd prefer car ownership, as they'd still need their vehicles to get around.

Khaleej Times spoke to both car owners and public transport users to understand their choices, difference in monthly expenditures and convenience. We've put together six case studies of the public transport vs car breakdown, as detailed by two residents living on their own, two couples, and two families.

Noel Pselis

Noel Pselis
Noel Pselis

Status: Single

Transport option: Car

Expenditure: Dh1,800 per month

For Lebanese expat Noel Pselis, monthly spend on his car varies according to several factors. Living in Oud Metha and working from his office in JAFZA twice a week, Noel spends an average Dh1,800 per month on his car. “Most of the expense comes from maintenance, insurance and petrol,” he said.

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“I spend about Dh500 on petrol and Dh200 on Salik. On the days I go to office, Salik currently costs me Dh24 a day. With the new Salik gates, that is definitely going up.”

According to him, in the last six months, he had to spent Dh1,800 on car registration and Dh2,500 on car maintenance. However, he would not consider swapping his car for public transport. “Having a car gives you a lot of freedom,” he said. “The expenses are part of that and I am willing to spend for that kind of freedom.”


Status: Single

Transport option: Public + company car

Expenditure: Dh350 per month

Sudanese expat Mazza arrived in the UAE 10 months ago and has been relying completely on public transport to get her out and about. “I used to live in Arjan, from where I used to take a bus to the Mall of the Emirates. From there, I would take the Metro to work. It was extremely convenient. Then, I moved to Dubai Marina and JVC but I pick each place depending on its connectivity. While at Dubai Marina, I used to use the tram to get to the Metro and then plan my onward journey.”

Her life changed when she discovered the monthly pass. “I used to use the silver card,” she said. “But since I found out about the monthly pass, I take that depending on where I need to go. Some months, I take the pass that allows me unlimited travel between two zones, which costs me Dh240 and at other times, I buy the Dh350 pass which allows me travel across all zones without any limits.”

As a real estate agent, Mazza needs to travel around a lot but she uses the company car for that. “I don’t have a driving licence, so the company has given me a car and a driver when I need to go for viewings,” she said. “But I try to mostly carpool with my colleagues when I go out. For my personal use, I only use public transport and avoid taking taxis. So, the maximum I spend in a month for transport is Dh350.”

Aaron Illathu

Aaron and his wife
Aaron and his wife

Status: Family of two

Transport option: Car + public

Expenditure: Dh750 per month

American expat Aaron spends roughly Dh650 on his car every month. “I don’t have a loan on my car so there’s no EMI,” he said. “I live in Dubai Marina and work in JLT. I use public transport to get to work but my wife uses the car to get to her office. We roughly spend about Dh400 on petrol and the remaining on insurance and Salik.”

He said the new toll gates were not on either of their routes but even if it was, he would not consider giving up on having a car altogether because of the convenience. “We have friends in Umm Al Quwain who we meet up with occasionally. Also, we have the odd errands in Satwa and other parts of Dubai that public transport doesn’t currently serve.”

Errol Gonsalves

Errol Gonsalves and his wife
Errol Gonsalves and his wife

Status: Family of two

Transport option: Public + pick-up and drop service

Expenditure: Dh1,000 per month

For Indian expat Errol Gonsalves, the monthly expense on transport comes to approximately Dh1,000 per month. He gave a detailed breakdown of his expenses. “I spent Dh20 going to and coming from work on the Metro every day because I use the gold class,” he said. “That amounts to roughly Dh500 per month. My wife has pick up and drop off from work. Then for networking events and weekends, we take taxi which costs about Dh400 per month. For nearby places, we use the Metro silver card and that costs around Dh40.”

Once a month, the expat who lives in Jaddaf takes a ferry to Dubai Festival City for grocery shopping. “We spend out Dh4 on that,” he said. “We do our big monthly shopping and return home in a taxi.”

Sarah Tiry

Sarah Tiry and her husband.
Sarah Tiry and her husband.

Status: Family of 3

Transport option: Two cars

Expenditure: Dh2,000 per month

South African expat Sarah Tiry and her husband have two cars in the household. While Sarah spends roughly Dh1,200 per month on the car, her husband spends a little less than that in insurance, fuel, Salik and maintenance. “The new Salik gate is going to affect me when I pick my son up and take him for his activities,” said Sarah.

“I will have to take the gate if I want to make it in time for his class. So even if I try to avoid the tolls as much as possible, sometimes taking it is just the most convenient thing to do.”

According to Sarah, she would switch to public transport if it was more accessible. “Every month-end, when my husband and I try to figure out where to cut costs, we invariably circle back to Salik. So, if there was a way for me to get my son from school to his activities, I would definitely take it. Unfortunately, it seems impossible,” she said.

Nisha Srijith

Nisha and Srijith.
Nisha and Srijith.

Status: Family of 3

Transport option: Public

Expenditure: Dh1,250 per month

Indian couple Nisha and Srijith live in Qusais and they both take the Metro to work. While Nisha travels from Stadium Metro Station to Deira City Center, Srijith takes the Metro to Business Bay every day. “I have a regular metro card and my husband has taken a three-month season pass for Dh520. On weekends, mostly, we go out with friends so we either carpool or take a taxi,” she said.


On an average, the couple spends between Dh600 and Dh800 a month on their transportation, of which Dh300 is their joint expenditure on Metro. The remaining is spent on taxis — which they sometimes use to get to the metro station or to go out during the weekends. “When we first came, we were living in Bur Dubai,” said Srijith. “There were days when I spent more than one hour looking for parking in the area with my company car so we decided not to buy a car. Now, even though we have moved to a place with better parking, the Metro is really convenient. So, we have no plans as such to buy a car.”

In addition to this, the couple also spends Dh450 on bus transportation for their daughter to school in Al Warqaa.


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