Cars in the UAE drive on the right hand side of the road
with overtaking on the left. It is necessary to drive very defensively in the UAE as local drivers have a reputation for being fast and reckless. Many people will overtake on the right as well despite how dangerous this is. They are on the whole inpatient and will often drive aggressively and overtake without assessing the situation.
The Emirates have some of the world's highest accident and driving death rates. Avoiding the rush hours in the cities as much as possible is a good idea as this is when people are at their most volatile. Tinted windows are often a sign that the car may have a privileged driver as they are forbidden by law, and cars with tinted windows should generally be given a wide berth. It is also difficult to see other drivers when changing lanes if cars have tinted windows so watch out for this.
Driving while on a mobile phone is illegal yet that does not stop most of the population from doing it.
If you plan to see the incredible deserts surrounding the UAE then choose a 4x4 vehicle. Other safety precautions should be taken. Let people know where you are going before you leave, travel in a convoy of vehicles and always carry lots of food and water with you.
Having a good map is very useful but constant road works mean they rarely stay up-to-date. You may wish to get a global positioning system.
Each Emirate has different rules for accidents. If you are driving in Dubai do not move the vehicle unless it is obstructing other motorists. In Abu Dhabi you can move the vehicle to one side so as not to block traffic, but only if vehicle damage is minor and no one has been hurt. Generally you should keep the car where it is but some of Emirates allow you to move it if it is a minor collision and both drivers can agree on who was responsible. Call the police
and remain where you are as it is against the law to leave before they arrive.
Whatever you do remain calm and courteous as displaying a temper can land you in big trouble. The police have the power to fine anyone that they think is being rude to them. Saying or making any obscene gestures to other drivers in the UAE can be a criminal offence.
It is mandatory to for the driver and all passengers to wear seatbelts.
Road signs are similar to what you will find in Britain and are usually easy to understand. Motorway signs have a blue background and white writing. Signs are displayed in Arabic and English language.
Compared to America and Europe petrol is quite cheap in the UAE. As of December 2013, average prices for unleased petrol are 1.8 Dirham / litre which equates to;
The Blood Alcohol Content limit in the United Arab Emirates is zero. If you are caught drink driving you risk jail time so taking a taxi is advisable. Being intoxicated while driving would also invalidate your insurance. See our full guide on drink driving laws abroad
You must have an International Driver's Permit (IDP) along with your own driving licence. If you are an expat from the West who is living in the UAE then you need to get a local license. Just head to the Department of Motor Vehicles, it does not take long, although in Dubai you may need to pass an eye test and have a letter of no objection from your employer.
Unfortunately some other nationalities including Asians must undergo strict procedures to obtain a license including having 40 driving lessons and a difficult exam. The laws regarding this are soon going to change. More information on driving license requirements in the UAE
Only if it is in conjunction with an International Driver's Permit.
Hello/Welcome - MarHuba
Goodbye - Ma’assalaama
Thank you - Shukran
Yes - Na’am
No - La’
Sorry - Muta’assif
Do you speak English? - Tatakullum ingleezi?
I don’t understand - Ana maa afham
How much is that? - Bekam?
Where’s the nearest doctor? - Wayn aghrab tabeeb
Speed limits are very variable in the UAE. Some main roads have speed limits of 120 kph, some are 100 kph. the usual limit for built-up areas is 80 kph but slower in busy areas. The local police are very strict on speeding in Dubai and if you are caught in a rental car you are very likely to face a fine. It is highly recommended that you do not break the speed limit, even if it appears that local drivers are doing so as tourists are often seen an easy target and the fines can be heavy.
The conversion from kilometres to miles per hour is one kilometre = 0.62 miles per hour. Therefore the speed limit for built-up areas is 50 mph.
The minimum driving age is 18. Most car rental companies require you to be over 25 with some driving experience.
The fire service is on 997, the police are on 999 or 112 and the medical services are on 998 or 999.
The British embassies in the UAE are in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Khalid bin Al Waleed Street 22
PO Box 248
+971 2 610 1100
Al Seef Road
PO Box 65
+971 4 309 4444
The British Embassy website is http://ukinuae.fco.gov.uk/en/
The US Embassy is at
Abu Dhabi, P.O. Box 4009
+971-2 414 2200
Their website is http://abudhabi.usembassy.gov/
The main international airports of Dubai and Abu Dhabi have thousands of parking spaces. Any hotel that you stay at will offer free parking. Otherwise parking tends to be expensive.