Driving In Dubai
Tips On Renting A Car And Getting Around The Capital City
In recent decades Dubai, the capital of the Emirate of Dubai — and the United Arab Emirates’ city with the largest population — has become a major tourist attraction. Fueled by the oil industry, Dubai has developed into an international draw that boasts five-star hotels, some of the world’s best restaurants, beautiful beaches, a warm climate year-round, and a global landmark with the Burj Khalifa, which is the world’s tallest building.
Visitors to Dubai have several options for getting around including taxis or an excellent public transportation system that includes a tram, monorail and more. But to be truly independent in the city you might want to consider renting a car. The cost of renting a car can work out much cheaper than paying for several taxis throughout your visit. And you can get around on your own schedule without having to rely on the timetables of public transportation options.
If you’re interested in renting a car in Dubai, check out the must-read tips below for everything you need to know about getting a vehicle and the rules of the road in the city.
Renting Cars In Dubai
For tourists who are residents in any of the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries (GCCC) who possess a valid passport, you’ll be able to use your domestic driving license to rent a car in Dubai. The GCCC includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Similarly, tourists from the United States, United Kingdom and many other countries deemed first world can use their domestic driving licenses if they hold a valid passport.
If you’re from the GCCC or a first world country then before renting you must obtain an International Driving Permit, which effectively acts a document proving your domestic driving license is valid to use in Dubai. It’s important to note that the same country must issue you’re your IDP and your domestic driving license to purchase a rental.
Cars in Dubai can be rented in advance by checking out the websites of major international rental companies that operate in the city. Alternatively, once your flight lands at Dubai International Airport and you have collected your luggage simply follow the signs to the rental car kiosks. You’ll have a wide range of reliable companies to choose from including Avis, Budget, Dollar, Europcar, Hertz, InterRent, National Car, Sixt, Thrifty, and more.
The exact price of your rental will vary on a case-by-case basis due to factors including the size of the car that you need, and the duration of the time that you need to rent it. An example family of two parents and two children would be fine with a regular-sized family car.
Once you’ve decided on your car be sure to inspect it before you leave the Dubai airport or from wherever you’re picking up the vehicle. If you see any scrapes or other damage bring it to the attention of the rental car staff so that you don’t get blame for it when you return the vehicle.
Give the rental contract a very close read so that you are familiar with all the terms and conditions before you get in the car. Sometimes companies hide additional fees and charges in the contracts, and reading them closely can avoid any unpleasant surprises with extra costs.
You should also ask the rental company for its policy on whether you need to refill the car with a full tank of gasoline, and for the rules on the deadline and location for returning the vehicle.
Driving In Dubai
Once you have your rental car and have left the airport, there are several key things to know about driving on the streets of Dubai — some laws and restrictions that are common throughout the world, others that are unique to the city and must be obeyed.
Traffic generally tends to move at a fast pace in Dubai and some drivers can be unreliable and inconsistent, but that doesn’t mean you should do the same. For example, some locals will drive their cars far too close to the vehicle in front of them. Don’t copy this behavior. Stay safe on the roads by maintaining composure and calm and not being intimidated by bad drivers.
Because of the bad driving of some people, car crashes do happen, but be warned that in Dubai it is illegal to slow down to stare at accidents so if you see one, keep moving.
At nighttime you should always put your headlights on even if other drivers are not using theirs, and keep a safe distance from any cars that don’t have their lights on.
Similar to many other major cities, driving when intoxicated or on drugs is illegal and you will face criminal penalties if you are caught doing either. In addition to penalty fines, you could risk additional charges including jail time and having your driving license revoked.
In Dubai you cannot overtake another car on the right side of the vehicle, and if you’re caught doing this you face a penalty. Remember to only ever overtake other cars from the left.
There are a couple of road tips that are specific to Dubai that are crucial to know before you decide to drive, and one of the more unusual facts is that you need to be aware of goats and camels as a potential hazard on the road. If you spot these animals by the roadside then you need to significantly slow down to pass them. Camels in particular will sometimes make swift movements without warning, and if they hit your car it might cause more damage to the vehicle than to them. If you hit and kill a camel if will be an incredibly expensive accident because they are considered by their local owners to be very valuable property.
Cultural sensitivity is important in Dubai, and the use of hand gestures when driving is considered to be insulting to locals and can result in financial penalties and even jail time depending on the offense. Resist the temptation to ever use gestures.
Never throw trash out of your car window, always take it with you and dispose of it at your destination. If the authorities catch you discarding trash from a moving car then you risk being charged with large financial penalties and having six points added to your driving license. If you get 24 points within 12 months then your license is invalidated for a year.