Dubai is not a city build with pedestrians in mind: the distances are long and the sun is ruthless. The options are: rent a car, take a taxi, or use public transport.
A Dubai Metro ride is a trip to the future: it involves one of the few fully automated driverless passenger trains in the world. The red line of Metro Dubai is also the world's longest driverless single metro line. So you could take the driver’s place at the windshield and enjoy the futuristic cityscape at a fantastic speed (that is the chance to make really impressive photos and videos). To ride in the head coach you have to pay a double price for gold class.
The red line goes through the main tourist attraction areas: Dubai Marina, downtown, old neighbourhoods, and also the Dubai Airport.
Nol Card is a contactless smart card required to pay for the metro rides (and also bus, tram, etc). If you plan just a few rides, you can buy a Red Nol Card. But if you plan more than 4-5 rides or if you need to pay for parking, a Silver Nol Card is the best choice. It costs 25 AED (19 AED are in credits, that’s enough for circa 5 rides).
Taxis in Dubai are relatively inexpensive (but Uber is even cheaper). The initial fare is 3-7 AED (20 AED from the airport), the meter fare is 1.6 AED / km, minimal payment is 10 AED. Getting from the airport to the hotel by taxi would often be cheaper than the hotel transfer.
You can book a taxi, or take it at the taxi-stand (no need to book a taxi at the airport or at the mall), or simply catch it in the street. A legally operating Dubai taxi is a cream-colored car with a bright-colored roof (taxis with a pink roof are driven by women and only women can use them).
Drivers might use some tricks to extort extra money. Some choose the longest way or drive in circles. Some claim that the meter is broken or that there are fixed prices (avoid those). Also bear in mind that during rush hours metro may be a better solution.
Rent a car
Hundreds of companies offer rental cars in Dubai. You could rent one at the airport. But there are pros and cons.
On one hand, taxis in Dubai are inexpensive, public transport is exceptionally comfortable, the traffic is heavy and the eastern style of driving might be stressful for a foreigner.
On the other hand, if you are going to move around a lot (and especially if you want to go to neighbouring emirates), renting a car could be cheaper than taking a taxi every time. Some of the Dubai’s points of interest (like camel races) are out of reach by public transport.
Renting a car starts from circa 50 AED per day. Several companies offer luxury cars like Ferraris or Lamborghinis (that will be from 1500 AED per day). Shop around: prices vary, and there might be special offers.
Dubai has a dense bus network of about 100 bus routes. All buses are air-conditioned. Bear in mind that a driver does not sell tickets: a Nol Card is required to pay for rides. Nol Cards are sold at ticket offices and in ticket vending machines at metro and bus stations.
Bus is the cheapest way to get to Global Village (route 106 from the Mall of the Emirates Metro Bus Stop) or to the Dubai Miracle Garden (route 105 from the Mall of the Emirates).
Trains of futuristic design go in a loop around Dubai Marina and run all across Jumeirah. Palm Jumeirah Station links the tramway with the Palm Monorail. To pay a fare (3-4 AED) you need a Nol Card. The Nol Card is also valid for metro and bus and can be purchased at any station.