Driving in Dubai - things to know for out-of-towners
When you’re on holiday, you may want to be driven around so you can spend more time relaxing and enjoying the view. But sometimes you want first hand experience driving in a new city. Dubai is a place that is guaranteed to give you a driving experience to remember!
If you are a foreigner planning to drive in Dubai for the first time, there are a few things you should know in order to have a safe and smooth experience:
International Driving Permit: If you are visiting Dubai and have a valid driver's license from your home country, you can use it to drive for up to 90 days. However, it is recommended that you also carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) for added peace of mind. Check with the rental company when booking in case of any rule changes.
Road Rules: The road rules in Dubai are similar to those in many other countries, but there are a few specific rules to be aware of. For example, it is illegal to make a U-turn on a highway, and it is also illegal to drive on the hard shoulder. Speed limits are clearly marked with speed cameras dotted across the city to ensure we’re all driving safely and under the speed limit.
Cars: Cars drive on the right side of the road in Dubai and the UAE, as in the United States and Europe. If this isn’t how things are in your country, be prepared to make an adjustment! Cars in Dubai are typically newer and well-maintained, and you will find a wide variety of luxury vehicles on the road and available when renting a car in Dubai.
Further to the point above, for those who drive on the left side of the road with a right hand drive car, you’ll need to learn that the left most lane is the fast lane, on-ramps and off-ramps are on the right and you’ll need to look up to your right for the rear view mirror. And don’t be embarrassed when you accidentally hit the wipers instead of the indicators. It happens to everyone!
Traffic: Traffic in Dubai can be heavy, particularly during rush hour. It is important to be patient and to allow extra time for your journey. Typically, there is traffic southbound in the mornings which then reverses in the evenings. Traffic can be especially congested on Friday afternoons/evenings.
Safety: Dubai has one of the lowest road accident rates in the world, thanks to strict law enforcement, and well-maintained roads. However, it is still important to practice safe driving habits, such as wearing your seatbelt, obeying traffic laws and speed limits, and not driving under the influence of alcohol - this is a huge no-no in Dubai (and everywhere else!).
Paperwork: Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork with you when you drive, such as your driver's license, car registration, and insurance documents. It pays to be prepared!
Navigation: Google Maps or Waze are your best friends and will help you navigate the city and avoid getting lost - though if we’re completely honest, if you can see the Burj Khalifa, you’ll never be lost in Dubai!
Overall, driving in Dubai can be an enjoyable experience, as long as you are aware of the local road rules and drive safely.