Daisy Carrington: bus
Gayathri Krishnan: car
James Wilkinson: Metro
Laura Chubb: taxi
Bus: I set off in search of the bus stop. Two bus routes go to Mall of the Emirates. Alas, I can only find the stop for the slower one.
Metro: We’re off! Surely I, with my superior locomotive transportation, will be the winner? Just got to find the station…
Taxi: I casually saunter out of BurJuman, where a long line of vacant cabs eagerly awaits.
Taxi: I’m already on the move. Even sweeter, I spot Daisy slogging to the bus stop in the mid-afternoon heat while I recline in AC bliss. Short straw, anyone?
Car: At a red light between Karama and Mankhool in a sea of cars. Where are all these people going on a Saturday afternoon? A metro train rockets by in all its blue and silver glory. Green light! Whoopee!
Metro: I manage to find my way out of BurJuman after only, er, three minutes.
Metro: In the station, surrounded by people snapping photos; bizarre to think I’ll turn up in the background of someone’s Facebook page. I am directed to the (un-signposted) Jebel Ali line.
Taxi: Having waited at traffic for an age, we hit Sheikh Zayed Road. The road looks pretty clear – very promising.
Car: I glance over to where the Burj Al Arab sits, reminiscing about the day that she was the toast of the town. Seven stars never seems to go out of fashion.
Taxi: I’m drawing level with the Burj Al Arab when, for the first time since we started out, I see a train running parallel to me on the left. Is James on it? I reckon he must be. I start imagining his victory dance and it’s enough to make me consider turning back.
Metro: No victory dance. No train, even; still waiting on the platform.
Bus: I’m sitting on a ledge in front of Spinneys waiting for the bus. Getting sweatier by the minute.
Car: Muppet that I am, I’ve absent-mindedly missed the MoE exit and am now on my way to Media City. Four minutes later I am back on track, my car hungry for a parking spot in the maze that is the MoE parking lot.
Taxi: I’m near Mall of the Emirates metro station now, and the train’s pulling in. I already feel defeated.
Metro: The train arrives after 10 minutes of thumb twiddling. The crowd converges on the doors. I eschew gold class and its leather luxury, for I am a man of the people. Viva la transport revolution!
Taxi: As we pull up at the mall entrance, the meter reads Dhs36. I pay and prepare to leg it to Après.
Metro: The metro gives the perfect viewpoint on The Burj Dubai; thanks to the elevation, you can see it from top to glittering bottom. Sadly, the tuneless, endlessly repeating music playing in the carriages is driving me nuts.
Bus: The bus is here! Finally!
Metro: The scenic views are gone: Al Ghandi Auto is no Burj. The music makes me want to kill someone – possibly everyone.
Taxi: ARRIVED! Having been directed entirely the wrong way three times, I finally find Après. No one’s there. A quick text to James confirms that I won. Woo hoo! I treat myself to a browse in Virgin Megastore.
Car: ARRIVED! Get to Après, but my mini-detour cost me a good six minutes. Damn Laura’s non-digressing, ox-like focus. I demand a do-over.
Metro: We arrive at the station. Everyone remains un-murdered.
Bus: We’re zooming up Sheikh Zayed Road at a good pace, and we pass the Four Points By Sheraton. Maybe this won’t take that long after all.
Metro: The ticket barriers and escalators are overcrowded, so it takes a good six minutes to even get out of the station, and a further three to get into the mall proper.
Metro: ARRIVED! I finally arrive at Après. Third place! Outrage. Good job I don’t pay taxes or I’d ask for them back.
Bus: I pass by an ominous sign pointing to the Al Quoz graveyard. Awesome, we’re already in Al Quoz. The mall’s got to be close.
Bus: I see a sign pointing to Barsha. Seriously, how much further?
Bus: The bus finally stops, letting us out in the middle of nowhere. I could take another bus to the Mall, but I can’t stand waiting any longer. I lurch towards the first cab that passes my way.
Bus: ARRIVED! After a well-deserved swig of water, I admit to catching a cab. They agree that, after two hours on a bus, this is not a punishable offence.
Winner: taxi (30 minutes; Dhs36)
Second place: car (35 minutes; Dhs10 for parking)
Third place: Dubai Metro (50 minutes; Dhs6.50)
Last place: bus (135 minutes; Dhs4.10)
The result: The road remains the fastest means, but the metro is the cheapest. We’ll see how the four fare again in six months, when roads are busier and the metro system is more complete.