The United Arab Emirates joined the world of toll charges for roads in 2007, extending the scheme a year later. Unlike many western nations, the UAE’s toll roads aren’t about revenue, they’re an attempt to reduce congestion on major highways to sort out the horrendous traffic problems often seen, especially around Dubai city.
The toll system is very simple but it’s still easy to fall victim to its little nuances. Chief amongst them is that you can’t pay at a toll booth, all payments must be via a pre-paid card – great if you’re going to drive a lot of times through the toll gates but expensive if you need to make just a couple of journeys.
How much are the tolls roads in Dubai?
The pre-paid cards are called Salik Cards and are available just about anywhere – think mobile phone top up and you’re in that area. They cost 100 UAE Dirhams to buy and each time you pass under a toll gate you’ll be deducted 4 AED from your card, hence it’s valid for 25 tolls. You can get recharge cards in kiosks and garages and also top up using a credit card or online.
The system uses Radio Frequency Identification RFID and each car has a tag that is ‘read’ by the sensors as you pass under any one of the six toll gates in the Emirates. The gates are only found in and around Dubai, so anywhere else in the Emirates, you can use the roads freely.
The location of the gates is as follows:
Al Garhoud Gate
This is located just before the southern entrance to the Al Garhoud Bridge and charges drivers travelling across Dubai Creek via the bridge from Umm Hurair to Port Saeed and Al Garhoud. It can be avoided by crossing further south into Festival City and taking the road northwest into Al Garhoud.
Al Maktoum Gate
Here the toll gate is on the northern end of the bridge from Al Maktoum to Umm Hurair. Taking the Al Ithihad Road slightly south of the Al Maktoum Bridge will help you avoid the charge.
Al Safa Gate
This is on Sheikh Zayed Road, alongside the Tiara United Towers, near the Business Bay. It’s easy to avoid this one by taking the Al Hadiqa Road, then turn right onto Al Wasl Road and right again onto Umm Amar Road then back onto the E11. Be warned though, lots of people do the same and the alternative route is often gridlocked.
Al Barsha Gate
This gate is again on Sheikh Zayed Road as it heads towards the Mall of the Emirates. The parallel roads Al Sufouh and Al Mafraq both enable you to avoid the toll.
Airport Tunnel Gate
This is, as you’d expect, placed to catch those arriving at Dubai International Airport. You can take Mohammed Bin Zayed Road as an alternative but it means a much longer round trip to get where you’re going. One best to pay, we’d recommend.
A double whammy here for there are two toll gates, one either side of the Al Ittihad/Baghdad Street roundabout on the E11. It’s really difficult to avoid these so it’s best to pay up and have a quick journey to Mamzar Beach.
It’s worth noting that the tolls only get you one way but whilst there used to be a maximum limit on your daily tolls, now there’s no limit. More toll gates are likely to be introduced, with the road to/from Dubai World Central a favourite for the next phase.
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