Clarifications on Metro Stations - Dubai


I am living in Dubai and working for some years in my free time on corrections and additions to the Dubai map. This is proving to be a challenging task, because there are lots of new things coming up all the time as everyone living here can agree on. :slight_smile:

When I was today mapping and reviewing an area that I am moving to in the next weeks, I found a very inconsistent quality of metro stations in Dubai.
While reading up a bit on those stations, I encountered some things that were unclear to me - I am hoping that someone can help me here to find a best practice to map these stations.

Someone has already put the effort in putting in all the lines and stations - however the station buildings are really looking different and I am uncertain what attributes they should have.

I would propose we take Al Jadaf station as an example. Al Jadaf can be found here: 25.22493,55.33388

In general in Dubai, there are just two kinds of stations, the ones overground and the ones underground. For now, I would like to focus on the overground stations first.

The overground stations all look (mostly) the same. This is a great example of a station:

I have been following the railway station article on the wiki: Especially the diagram on what should be named how is very helpful, but does not fit 100% onto the existing metro stations here.

Now, here come my questions:

  1. I have several components in the metro station in OSM right now:
  • A node that sits on the track with following attributes

    • construction = yes - I assume this is not true anymore, as it would indicate the station is still under construction
    • name = Al Jadaf - name of the station in the metro system
    • name:ar = الجداف - Arabic name in the metro system
    • railway = station - This is feeling like not being in line with the wiki article from above. Shouldn’t this be related to some point not connected to the track directly? I am referring to this again in the second part of my questions.
    • station = subway - I do not get this attribute at all. I can see that this is recommended in the “Metros” article in the OSM wiki, bit it goes against the rules mentioned in the article on railway stations.
  • A building that has following tags:

    • building = yes - it is a building, however the recommendation is to call it building = train_station
    • name = Al Jadaf Metro Station - I am not sure this is correct now. We already gave the name before, does the name have to be on this also?
  • A walkway that leads away from this station on both sides with following tags

    • bridge = yes - is this correct?
    • highway = footway - this makes sense in my opinion
    • layer = 1 - this is above roads (if there are roads leading underneath, see picture of a metro station above)
  • Some stairs, an escalator and an elevator leading down to the ground. For now they have the following tags:

    • highway = steps

Could someone give me their feedback on the existing tags and created types of nodes and ways? I am always hesitant to remove tags, as someone else has put effort into this already.

  1. According to the railway station wiki entry, a larger number of additional nodes should be required. I am not sure all of those apply here in Dubai. Your thoughts would be appreciated.
  • Platforms: I do not feel that platforms make sense here. The typically two platforms are both inside the building and kind of hidden. I am not sure this provides additional value to anyone. This includes information on references etc. mentioned in the wiki article on railway stations.
  • A node holding information on the station name etc NOT sitting on the track. Not sure what to think about that one. I would first need feedback on the point raised in question 1.
  • A node showing the stop position of the train. This is the same as the platforms. I feel it is a bit of nonsense to add this, just too much details in a way too small station.
  • An area covering the platforms and building, giving the name of the station again. In my opinion this is the same as the building if we are hiding the platforms inside, correct?
  • The whole landuse = railway areas… Again this is not done in Dubai right now. Does this make sense? The metro is usually on a viaduct or underground.
  1. Could you maybe point me in a direction of an example of how metro stations are tagged in some other areas of the world? Which one would you consider the “cleanest” with regards to tags etc? Maybe I would be able to use that example then and apply it to the Dubai Metro…

Thank you in advance and sorry for the wall of text.


I will have to ignore the image, as it could be construed as a copyright map.

I thought the official language in Dubai was Arabic, not English. Is the station really only signed in English. I would have expected:

name:en=Al Jadaf

However the way it is actually signed should determine the correct usage.

Strictly speaking, you are probably right that the station should not be on the track, although I think it would be OK to do that an early stage of mapping, before all the correct relations are added. Mapping of a railway can start with just a single line, representing all the tracks, in which case mapping the station on the line is reasonable, but, as you add more detail, e.g. tracks in both directions, it can cease to be a good idea.

I would treat articles on underground railways as overriding any on ordinary railways; don’t expect the wiki to cover every case.

For the building, firstly is there really a sign on the building, with its main language being English saying Al Jadaf Metro Station? In particular, does it actually say “Metro Station”.

If you are going to do area mapping, you should map the the whole railway station as an area, including platforms and buildings. If there is a building within that area, building=yes is probably OK, although, if it is exclusively used as a railway station, you could be more specific. If it covers the whole of the station, it is probably the correct place to put the tags for the station. Unless the name of the railway station is also used for building when it is not used for a railway station, I would tend to leave it un-named. As always, you need to look at what is actually done on the ground.

My real problem with the building is that the railway line is mapped as going over the top of the building (building layer=0; line layer=1). Mapping that correctly will be fiddly.

I’m not going to look at the walkway in the image, but on OSM, the only obvious problem is that it does not connect to anything.

For the other details, it is really a question of how much time you want to spend. In the UK there are a lot of railways enthusiasts, who would want to map in a lot more detail than is useful for the general public.

Also, looking at this area more generally, there seems to be an extreme over-use of English, and a failure in many cases to have the Arabic at all. For example, I can’t imagine something described as an Islamic Hospital doesn’t have Arabic prominent in its signage. OSM is a map for local people not for English speakers, although it can include English alternatives.

In addition, I get a feeling that there is a tendency to want to name everything, which results in the name being constructed from meta-data.

It looks like dual language naming is common in Dubai, so I might actually expect:

name=Al Jadaf الجداف
name:en=Al Jadaf

but, again, you need to look at how it is actually signed on the ground.

Hi hadw,

thank you for your feedback.

As UAE is a country on mostly foreigners (in Dubai for example there are less than 10% local people) and most of the foreigners do not speak Arabic (even worse considering reading Arabic), I do not see an issue naming as has been proposed in the UAE wiki (as providing an english name and adding the arabic if possible). However, if you want to make sure than no one ever works on OSM in UAE at all, we should stick with Arabic only :wink:

I am sorry that the picture is considered a map - I was not aware of this. Would a picture from Wikipedia do better? However, I will take a picture in the next days myself and post it, so that you have the chance to see it also. To quickly describe what I saw with my own eyes (and NOT describing the picture): The stations are on stilts just like the whole metro itself. The entrances are on both sides further away from the station and have stairs, elevators and escalators leading up to the station with a covered walkway. You can also see that on Bing, that is considered a safe source if I am not mistaken.

To come to your other points:
Through a quick walk to the next station by me (trust me, it was not nice - it is raining and everything is flooded) I found out that the main sign says “Emirates Towers Station”, where Emirates Towers is what you find on the official maps. However, the building is therefore named “Emirates Towers Station” while the station name is “Emirates Towers”.

You said “if you are going to do area mapping” - does this mean I should or should not do area mapping? I was basically trying to find out best practices.
Maybe I wasn’t clear with the platforms - they are inside the station, completely covered by it. The example on the railway station wiki was basically showing the traditional style railway stations with a small building on one side and then huge platforms next to it.
Would you think it is reasonable to try to map the platforms at all?

You said there is a problem with the railway going over the building. I would assume that since the building is built into the rail track, it should be at layer 1 also, correct? The track is running through the building, so this should be ok, right?

Considering the walkway, I had checked before on best practice - as far as I understood there is no need to have walkways/roads connect directly to the shape of a building. You would consider this information incorrect, right? I can easily connect them and just didn’t do it on purpose.

With regards to the English writing: I can promise you that EVERYTHING here is named in English. It obviously also has an Arabic name, but as the majority of people can’t read or write Arabic, we will have to pray for some Arabic speakers to join the OSM project and add the according metadata.

With regards to regular naming of everything: This is a very common thing in the Gulf region. The problem here is that until very recently (around 3 years), we hardly had any street names at all and even now nobody knows them. House numbers also do not exist - yes, we do not have a general post service, it all goes through PO Boxes. This is why every single small building has a name (and it is not uncommon to hear “Oh, after the clocktower roundabout you take the first left until the Al Mazaya Supermarket, there turn right until you reach the small yellow mosque. My building is left of it.”).

Thank you very much for your feedback, it is honestly appreciated - I hope I could shed a bit of light on the situation on the ground here :slight_smile:

One of the advantages of a forum is that you can get multiple opinions, so someone may come along with an alternative interpretation.

However, I cheated a little, and a source that you cannot use tells me that the name of the Station consists of Romanised Arabic on the left and Arabic in Arabic script on the right, and you should be using the name that actually appears on the station, so you should be using Al Jadaf الجداف. Users should use a map renderer that favours name:en if they need the English version. As the source I used is not allowable, you will need to check for yourself how the name is actually presented.

The image you provide looked like it was artwork, rather than a real photograph and also contained a web site watermark. Personally I would say it was unsafe to use even a photograph if you didn’t take it yourself, as the copyright holder might consider tracing from the photograph to be a derivative work. Web sites often attempt to be more restrictive than even copyright. If this were a photograph from Google Earth it would definitely be disallowed.

The reference to mapping it as an area was simply saying that, it is perfectly valid to map just as a node, but if you should decide to do more, that is what you should do.

With regard to the line going over the building, it would be normal to show a line at the same layer as the station, although there is scope for 3D mapping.

If a walkway goes past an entrance, having a stub connection from the walkway to the entrance would be optional, but your walkway only goes to the entrance, but appears to stop short. I would expect it to connect to the building, an that connection point to be tagged as an entrance.

At the other end, there is no apparent way of getting to the foot of the stairs. There is no pedestrian area mapped and no footpath mapped.

I’ll have to take your word for it on the naming of building, but it seems strange to me that there is a mosque name Masjid and an operational aerial railway named “Cable Car (closed)”.

Hi hadw,

I am sorry if you feel like I did not appreciate your feedback - I really did.

With regards to naming, I will have to disappoint you - so far the whole country has been named with the English name as the main name, the arabic name is given as name:ar. Changing the naming in the whole country is not going to happen, I am afraid.

The picture I provided is a real picture - it is taken by Imre, a guy that is putting lots and lots of pictures on the skyscraperforums usually to document progress of construction.
I did not use the picture for any kind of mapping - it was to document to people not living in Dubai (e.g. you) how things look like here.

This is a picture from wikipedia that should be less critical from a copyright perspective.

Ok, I feel the discussion on the node etc. does not lead anywhere without a proper example. I have built the attributes and naming of the station according to what I understood and then you (or anyone else) can point me in the right direction if things are correct. I am just trying to have one station built properly as an example - then I can map all the other stations in Dubai, as they all look the same (ignoring the underground stations of course).

The layer should be same as the building is what I understand from your comment - I will therefore put the building on layer 1. To be honest, I have never put a building on another layer, that’s the reason why I asked.

I can certainly connect the walkway to the building. However - I would think the entrance is on the ground already, not somewhere floating in air from the walkway to the main building. How would you map something like that?

The reason why there is no walkway to the stairs is because this station is built in the middle of the sand - there is no walkway :slight_smile:

I am sorry that you found errors in the map - Dubai is far from perfect, mostly because the expertise and exchange between people here does not exist- there is no specific forum for UAE in openstreetmap and even the wiki page on the UAE is very basic, as you could see. I guess one of the issues here is consistency. This is why I was trying to tap into expertise from other countries.
I agree with you that of course calling a mosque masjid and having the wrong tags on a cable way that is not working anymore is not correct - did you find any other errors that I can fix? Thanks for making me aware of that.