Walking on two legs may have been a turning point in mankind’s journey of evolution, but it wasn’t until we invented the wheel that that journey actually became a revolution (geddit?). Sofa sloths we hear you: Dubai is too vast to walk around, it is mostly too hot to hike (although explore outside the city in winter) and treadmills get tedious. However, next time Netflix sneers “Are you still watching?”, you can put down the remote, dig out those rollers and hit the streets thanks to our guide on where to skate, skoot and cycle in Dubai. It may even prove to be the turning point in your journey of life…
In 2006, there was just 10km of cycle-worthy track in Dubai, last year that had grown to 250km, by Expo 2020 that will more than double to 560km and come 2030 there’ll be a whopping 850km of path to wheel around. That’s enough to circumnavigate the Earth more than 21 times.
Al Qudra Cycle Track
The guide kicks off with a Time Out Dubai favourite: Al Qudra’s cycle track. The two paths are great for middle- to long-distance riders, are totally free if you have your own bike, but if you don’t you can always rent one. Warm up on the 18km circuit or go all out and tackle the 50km one, whichever you choose you’ll be treated to breathtaking desert views. For an extra special treat, be sure to be there for sunrise where you can pedal and watch the world wake up.
Free (bikes available to rent). Open 24 hours. Al Qudra (04 832 7377).
On Wednesdays, Dubai Autodrome takes a break from roaring car engines and hosts open cycling sessions with TrainDubai for three hours. All abilities and levels are able to take on the 2.5km track with varying gradients under the flood lights. You can turn up with your bike and hit the track at your own pace. It’s totally free to attend, while you can also rent out equipment, such as bikes and helmets, if you need.
Free. Wed 6pm-9pm (TrainDubai). Dubai Motor City (04 367 8700).
Nad Al Sheba
This track opposite The Meydan Hotel and Racecourse is one of the picturesque, offering glorious skyline views across Downtown Dubai and the Burj Khalifa. The former camel racing track has turned into paths of three different distances: 4km, 6km and 8km. Sessions run day and night. There’s also a dedicated kids’ track, complete with street signs, roundabouts and speed bumps to teach little ones real life road safety.
Free. Opposite The Meydan Hotel, Nad Al Sheba (04 339 4453).
The open road
Before hitting the streets, it is imperative you know and follow the laws of the road. All cyclists must wear helmets (cycling without leads to a Dhs500 fine) and there are certain roads you cannot ride on – mainly the busy ones like Sheikh Zayed Road (obvious as it may be). Riders should know how to signal movements and take particular care at junctions. Once you’re comfortable and prepared, you can visit sites such as www.bikemap.net and find a series of interactive maps showing where’s safe to cycle, where there are cycle paths and what parks (such as Al Barsha Park and Mushrif Park) have cycleways. There are plenty of places to cycle, it’s just working out where they are. You can also cycle round the Dubai Water Canal.
Join a group
If you don’t fancy going out alone, or need some motivation, it’s time to join a cycling group. The Dubai Roadsters ride every week with varying levels and race durations available, from a fast or steady 85km at Al Qudra to a trip to Hatta or Yas Marina.
Free. Times and locations vary. For more information, visit www.dubairoadsters.com.
WHERE TO SHOP
Located in Motor City – just a stone’s throw from Dubai Autodrome for anyone looking to join in the Wednesday evening sessions – is this multipurpose store. You’ll find road bikes, mountain bikes, track bikes, kids’ bikes, clothing accessories, tyres, seats, handlebars, food, drink and parts… Basically everything you’ll need. You can shop online, too.
Sun-Thu 10am-7pm; Fri-Sat 11am-4pm. Apex Atrium, Motor City, www.rcdxb.com (04 369 7441).
The Cycle Hub
Just down the road from Revolution Cycles is this longstanding favourite that boasts a hugely impressive amount of gear, bikes and more. Plus, there’s the Cycle Bistro attached next door, which claims to be the first paleo-only restaurant in the city. Perfect to refuel after a long journey.
Sun-Thu 8am-8pm; Fri-Sat 8am-6pm. Dubai Autodrome, Motor City, www.thecyclehub.com (04 425 6555).
This store opened way back in 2002 on Sheikh Zayed Road and has a mountain of kit for die-hard cyclers and those looking to pick it up. Wolfi’s stocks brands from around the word and will even complete custom build bikes. Staff are renowned for their expertise and have a loyal following as a result. They also carry out repairs and bike fittings.
Sat-Thu 9am-9pm; Fri closed. Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Quoz (04 339 4453).
No longer just an activity for grungy teens, skateboarding is a sport going places. Not only has the number of skaters grown hugely in recent years, but news that it will be included in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo has proven it’s to be taken seriously. Here’s where to skate in Dubai.
Bay Avenue skate park,Business Bay
This free open-air skatepark in Business Bay attracts all levels of skateboarders. It’s quite small, and all concrete, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s easy. There are ramps to drop in, ledges, rails and slopes to grind and it is accessible for all levels and ages. It’s surrounded by lush green gardens and is quite hidden from the outside, but inside you’ll get excellent views of the Burj Khalifa.
Free. Open daily 24 hours. Al Amal Street, Business Bay.
The Block, Dubai Design District
This skate park is often at the heart of the action when the Sole DXB urban and fashion event rolls around. However, outside of that event, it remains relatively free and uncongested. It’s part of an urban recreational facility that includes a basketball and volleyball court, climbing walls and urban beach. There are ramps, rails and half pipes and is good for beginners on a skateboard or rollerblades.
This 3,100 sq m skatepark opened in 2016 and has become a favourite among keen ’boarders. With its beachfront location, including palm trees and sea breeze, it oozes Venice Beach vibes. There are 29 obstacles in total, which are suitable for all levels from novice all the way to pro. It includes two bowls, three flatbanks and 11 bowled corners. The pro bowl is the highlight of the park, being 3.2m deep with a 2.1m shallow end providing a perfect space for your kickflips and tricks. Once you’ve done showing off, don’t forget to check out XDubai’s human slingshot, which will ping you 120 metres at 100kmph.
Dhs45 (per day), Dhs100 (per month). Open daily 5pm-1am. Kite Beach, www.xdubai.com.
WHERE TO SHOP RAGE
This is popular among Dubai’s skating community and is located in The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates. The Dubai Mall skate shop even has an indoor bowl where skateboarders can try out flips and ollies, as well as take lessons. You’ll find a range of boards, shoes and clothing, too.
Multiple locations including The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates.
DS Dynamic Sports
Roller skates, skate boards, safety gear, clothing, bikes and more can be found at this one-stop shop for all things on wheels. There are three locations of this store in Dubai, including Al Guhrari Centre, Deira, Dubai Outlet Mall and Bay Avenue, Business Bay.
Multiple locations including Deira and Business Bay.
Think scooting is just for kids? Wrong. According to hire companies scooter hire is on the rise in the city, especially for commuters who only have short distances to travel.
Due to a huge increase of traffic over the past ten years in Dubai, frustrated commuters are turning back to their childhood in a bid to conquer congestion. That is, hopping on a mini scooter to zip back and forth on short journeys. In the current cool weather – and post-Christmas gift season – Dubai Marina, JBR and JLT are teeming with grown-ups in suits and office wear whizzing past on scooters. Many are now electric and are capable of completing journeys quicker than cabs and safer than motorbikes while travelling up to 25km/h.
Firms such as California-based Qwikly, set up by Ammr Shaladi, are going one step further and offering electric scooters for short-term rents in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They rely on a mix of GPS and cellular connectivity to track the scooters being rented and then charge riders by the minute for their use – and a fee if they are lost or damaged. At the end of each journey, the vehicle is automatically halted and can only be unlocked when the next user types in a specific code in their phone.
To use the scooters in Downtown all you have to do is download the Quikly app, register, scan the QR code on the vehicle and start riding. When you’ve reached your destination you tap the app to end the ride and leave the scooter in suitable place. You’ll be charge Dhs3 every time you unlock a scooter and a further 50 files per minute.
Dhs3 (unlock), 50 fils (per minute). Downtown Dubai, www.qwik.ly.
WHERE TO SHOP
If you’ve noticed a huge upsurge in electric scooters after Christmas, chances are they’re the result of a generous gift giver at Christmas. Even in Time Out Towers there are several new scooter arrivals. Therefore, you can bet that as the sparkle begins to fade, many of the unloved and unwanted scooters well end up on Dubizzle. So, save yourself a pretty penny and give a warm, loving home to a neglected present.
If you want it, noon.com stocks it. So when you’re not shopping for new leggings for the gym, sunnies for the beach and an iPhone to take selfies on, check out the range of scooters available. There are dozens of options including both electric and push, kids, adults and different sizes. There are regular discounts and free delivery promotions to keep an eye out for, too.
There are currently more than 1,000 varieties of scooters on online retail giant Souq. There are options for kids and adults, push and electric, patterned, plastic, metal, pink, white, blue, green and everything in between. Keep your eyes peeled for savings during seasonal promotions.