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Driving in Dubai – our 10 tips

First of all: Driving a car in Dubai is not witchcraft. However, if you plan to venture beyond the city limits of Dubai or Abu Dhabi – whether for a romantic picnic in the desert, a trip to secluded sandy beaches or city-hopping between the two metropolises – a rental car is a wise choice. Without their own four wheels, tourists on the Arabian Peninsula can hardly get off the ground.

Of course, to Abu Dhabi, for example, you can also take a cab (about 120€ each way) or book a private driver (about 180€ per day), but in both cases you will miss the flexibility of a rental car. Especially in high season, waiting for a cab, especially in the blazing sun, can be quite uncomfortable, especially if you are traveling with children. The issue of child seats in cabs can also become a challenge.

Although UBER offers the possibility to order a car with a child seat, the cab usually only has a group 0 or 1 seat for children up to a maximum of 10 kg or 18 kg, respectively. Especially for families with more than one child, it is important to additionally order the appropriate child seats when booking a rental car. Depending on the duration of the rental and the rental price per day, it may even be worth buying a seat. Approved folding child seats are available from as little as €80 and are delivered to the hotel free of charge by same-day delivery or can be carried on most airlines at no extra charge.

How can I get around Dubai by cab and is the supply large enough?

In the city of Dubai itself, you can do almost everything comfortably by cab or UBER, and at much lower prices than in Germany. As a rule of thumb, you can calculate about 1€ per minute of travel. Ordering a cab is easy, and there are usually enough vehicles. If you are a bit outside the main traffic routes, it can occasionally take five to ten minutes for the cab you ordered to arrive on the scene.

What is the procedure for booking and picking up a rental car?

We have tried various portals and have been booking through the provider Billiger-Mietwagen for quite some time. Every booking we have made so far has worked perfectly. The prices are competitive and there is a large selection of vehicles. We especially like the excellent selection in the search mask. We recommend all tourists to choose a fully comprehensive insurance. The surcharge is moderate, ensuring a relaxed start to your adventure.

Extract from cheap rental cars. You can see which cars can be rented at which prices in Dubai

Most rental companies scan the vehicle with a tablet during the drop-off, and AI software immediately detects any damage. With comprehensive insurance in tow, you can sit back while the car is inspected. After that, you have to aim briefly and you’re ready to go.

The prices for a rental car are as follows, depending on the rental car category (price examples without guarantee and with the Premium Protection Package):

  • Compact class from approx. 60 euros per day
  • Upper class from 100 euros per day
  • SUV from 115 euros per day

The handling at the airport takes place directly in the terminal and is extremely efficient. The cars are usually relatively new, but simply equipped. Leather seats or electronic assistance systems such as the blind spot assistant are rarely present, and a navigation system is usually missing as well. In the case of the latter, the reason is obvious: the rental companies earn good money from the additional fees for navis. But one thing all vehicles have: Air conditioning, which is indispensable in most months of the year. A local driver’s license and an international credit card are sufficient for the rental.

How to drive in Dubai and what to look out for?

Although people in Dubai also drive on the right-hand side of the road, many other things are different than in Germany, Austria or Switzerland. Most roads have multiple lanes, usually at least two, often as many as 3-6 lanes. Although there is supposedly more room, people overtake on both sides, which can be confusing at first.

Changing lanes can be tricky and therefore requires special attention. The speed limit is usually between 90 and 110 km/h, which corresponds to 30 meters per second by rule of thumb. If you want to take an exit and have passed the 500 meter sign, it goes “jerky” to the exit. If it even takes a change across three lanes, you’re too late in most cases.

Our tips:

  1. Stay in the second lane from the right, not the far right, as this lane often leads directly into the exit lane and is suddenly separated from the other lanes by a safety line. If it is not your exit, but only the following one, you are out of luck or risk a heavy fine of about 400 Dhs (about 100€) when crossing the safety line or the hatched area.
  2. In Dubai, the majority of drivers adhere to the speed limits. We recommend that you adjust your speed to the flow of traffic. This has the advantage that you are not always overtaken from both sides and at the same time the risk of catching a “lightning bus” decreases.

Navigation while driving in Dubai

The information in the cell phone navi app is usually not identical to the traffic signs (Google Maps: info in the green bar). In the best case, the exit number is displayed – but this is rather rarely the case.

Navigation image from Google and a current traffic situation while driving in Dubai.

It can therefore be helpful if your co-driver regularly keeps an eye on the route on the navigation device (e.g. Google Map) and zooms out. This way you can significantly reduce the risk of making a wrong turn or driving in the wrong lane. Sometimes the navi tells you to turn left instead of right, because the road immediately afterwards leads to a big bridge over several lanes.

Navigation example from Google in Dubai

If you don’t want to use Google Maps at any cost, we recommend using the free app “Waze”.

Waze app is a traffic app to find the right way

The greatest benefit is that in most cases the lanes leading to the destination are displayed. Other advantages are the timeliness of the cartography and the congestion avoidance. The latter is linked to the option to log in as a Waze user and share your location.

Waze Ii

Traffic chaos in Dubai – how do I drive safely?

In Dubai, there are often multi-lane traffic circles, often 4-lane. So the question arises on which lane you should turn into the traffic circle, if you want to turn left (3rd exit) for example. Although the rule states that the road user in the outer lane has the right of way, this is a problem in Dubai practice. Logic does suggest that the outermost lane is the most quiet.

Now, however, many also turn into the exit on the second and third outermost lanes without a guilty conscience. It is true that most of the time the flashing is correct. But what good does it do you if you’re driving at the same height and can’t see the turn signals? It’s no less complicated the other way around: If you ride on one of the inner tracks, you have to fight your way out.

Our Tip:

1. if you want to turn right (1st exit), we recommend you to take the outer lane. If this is not possible (anymore) because you are too late, take the second outermost lane and set the right turn signal early enough.

2. if you want to go straight (2nd exit) or turn left (3rd exit), we recommend you to take the second lane from the right and change to the outermost lane as soon as possible.

3. changing more than two lanes in the traffic circle is demanding, so we don’t recommend you to take the lanes on the far left, even if there are the least cars there.

4. in an emergency, you should rather circle once more than risk a reckless maneuver.

Flashing is also mandatory in the traffic circle. Watch out: If you turn left at a traffic circle in Dubai, you don’t want to change lanes to the inside, you don’t want to turn and keep circling.

Buses and surveillance while driving in Dubai

This is how the speed cameras look on the roads in Dubai

Hundreds of camera columns are installed in Dubai. The gray pillars with horizontal black stripes can not only flash, but also monitor the behavior of drivers using artificial intelligence. This sounds “scary” but corresponds to the truth.

Although the catalog of fines states that 1 – 20 km/h too fast is punished with 300 AED, the speed cameras are programmed with a tolerance range. Behind closed doors it is said that up to 20 km/h too fast there is no speeding.

The bus table:

  • Up to 20 km/h too fast: approx. 75€ (300 AED)
  • Up to 30 km/h too fast: approx. 155€ (600 AED)
  • Up to 40 km/h too fast: approx. 175€ (700 AED)
  • Up to 50 km/h too fast: approx. 250€ (1’000 AED)

As mentioned earlier, AI is coming into play in Dubai. If the system detects potentially errant behavior (dangerous driving, crossing a hatched area or a safety line, driving too close, etc.), this is checked at one of the seven Control Centers and can, but does not necessarily have to, result in a fine of AED 400 (~ € 100). If this happens to you, the buses will be charged through the car rental company and ultimately through your credit card.

In Dubai, AI is used to check behavior while driving a car

Where do I park my car?

public parking display in Dubai. Payment is made via the RTA App

Driving is central in Dubai in every respect, which is why parking is also much cheaper than in Germany. While parking is free in most shopping malls, a fee of 10-20 AED (€2.50 5.00) per hour is charged at the hotspots (e.g. JBR Beach). In addition to the parking garages, there are also white parking spaces on public land. If nothing is posted, parking there is free. However, if a sign signals that a fee is required, please do not park.

In Dubai, there is a special system of how parking spaces are paid for. As a tourist, it is too much trouble to open an account and credit it. In addition, international credit cards are not accepted for these transactions.

Our Tip:

Calculate whether valet parking (getting out and handing the key to the doorman) makes sense. Most of the time the valet parking fee is 80 Dhs (about 20 €). However, the convenience factor is a lot higher and usually valet parking zones are right in front of the restaurant or in front of the attraction to be visited.

How much is the gasoline?

The prices of gasoline and diesel are regulated. Each gas station sells the fuel at the same price. Comparing is therefore not worthwhile. Currently, the prices per liter of unleaded 95 are about 0.80€ and for diesel about 0.85€ and are reset monthly depending on the price of oil and other factors.

Drinking and driving – rather NO

Dubai has one of the strictest laws regarding drunk driving. The 0.00 per mille rule applies. If you get caught with alcohol behind the wheel, it will cost you at least 6000€. The advantage is that alcohol is available only in selected locations (restaurants / clubs / hotels). Leave your car at home or at the hotel and take a cab for a leisurely exit. So you can also celebrate extensively.

If you are traveling by rental car and don’t want to miss out on a good glass of wine or a wheat beer, we highly recommend booking a SafedriverDubai.

How does this service work?

  1. You write by Whatsapp at what time and place you want to be picked up.
  2. A driver will be brought to you who will chauffeur you to the desired address in a rental car.
  3. You pay 80 AED (20 €) during the week 100 AED (25 €) on the weekend in cash or with a credit card link.

Subsequently, the pickup of the driver is organized by SaveDriverDubai.


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4 thoughts on “Driving in Dubai – our 10 tips”

  1. I’ve been using SafeDriver Hub for several months now, and I can confidently say it has transformed the way I approach professional driving. This platform offers a comprehensive set of tools that not only enhance safety but also elevate overall driving performance.

    The real-time monitoring feature is a game-changer. It provides instant feedback on my driving habits, helping me stay aware of areas where I can improve. The personalized insights and performance metrics have been invaluable in refining my skills and adopting safer driving practices.

    1. Thank you for your valuable feedback, much appreciated. So far we have only been using Safedriver but are of course happy to consider Safedriverhub in the future. Best regards your Custours Team

  2. SafeDriverDubai shares a wealth of knowledge with their ‘Driving in Dubai – Our 10 Tips’ guide! This comment commends their commitment to promoting safe driving practices in the bustling city. From navigating traffic to handling diverse road conditions, these tips serve as a valuable resource for both residents and visitors. Whether you’re a seasoned driver or new to Dubai’s roads, incorporating these insights from SafeDriverDubai ensures a smoother, more secure journey.

  3. SafeDriverDubai’s ‘Driving in Dubai – Our 10 Tips’ guide is a must-read for anyone hitting the roads in this dynamic city! 🚗🌆 This comment applauds their initiative in providing valuable insights for safe and confident driving. From tackling traffic to navigating Dubai’s unique driving culture, these tips offer practical advice for a smooth journey.

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