But there are a few hoops you need to jump through to get it working…

Dubai’s public transport system is first-class, offering residents and tourists the ability to quickly zip around the city at very low cost.

One feature we’ve always wished that the RTA would adopt from other systems around the world, however, is the ability to use a smartphone instead of a plastic ticket to check in and out.

It’s a little known fact, but it is actually possible to do this right now, although not without a few caveats…

Back in 2013, the RTA introduced Smart NOL, a new service that lets commuters replace their existing silver NOL cards with their smartphone. (it’s only possible for silver NOL card holders – no word on whether the service will eventually come to gold and other cards.)

In order to take advantage of Smart NOL, you will have to apply for an NFC (Near Field Communication)-enabled SIM card from your telephone operator and must ensure that it is compatible with your current smartphone – Etisalat or Du should be able to tell you this at the time of purchase.

Speaking of purchase, the service isn’t free, sadly. Du charges Dhs55 for the new SIM with a monthly cost of Dhs2 for NFC. We couldn’t find any information on pricing on Etisalat’s website but have reached out to them and will update as soon as we hear back. Handily, Smart NOL comes pre-loaded with Dhs14 to get your started.

So yes, there are a fair few hoops you need to jump through in order to make seamless smartphone payment on public transport happen, but if you make the effort you’ll actually be rewarded with a number of handy benefits.

First and foremost, is being able to check in and out of Dubai Metro, buses, water buses and metro parking using only your phone. You’ll also be able to check your NOL balance and last transaction.

Is the convenience of paying for public transport with your smartphone worth it for you?

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