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What do I need to know about luxury car hire in Dubai?

Tuesday, 31. October 2023 | Benedikt Lüchinger

Driving a car in foreign cities or countries isn’t always easy. The ES Magazine provides a helpful guide so you know exactly how to rent a car in Dubai.

As one of the most vibrant cities in the world, Dubai is a popular destination for millions of tourists, business people, and travelers from all over the world. As the capital of the Emirate of Dubai and the most populous area in UAE, it is the regional hub and busy metropolis that changes in front of your eyes. Since it is a modern city, its development was based on cars as a primary mode of transport, and Dubai incorporates one of the most advanced traffic systems in the world. A lot of visitors choose to rent a luxury car in Dubai during their stay. Despite your previous experience of driving in various parts of the world, it is essential to know a thing or two about driving in Dubai, especially if you are renting a luxury vehicle. So, here are the important points so your Dubai luxury car hire experience will be as enjoyable as possible.

Driving in general in Dubai

  • In Dubai, right-hand driving is mandatory. Overtaking maneuvers should be performed on the left.
  • Wearing a seatbelt is mandatory.
  • The United Arab Emirates are Islamic, therefore drinking and driving is absolutely prohibited. The legal alcohol limit is 0,0. Violation of this law almost certainly leads to imprisonment!
  • Additionally to your own driving license, it is advised to carry an international driving license as well. For your own safety, carrying the car documents, the proof of insurance and a passport as well as the rental agreement is advised.
Dubai city view

Roads and Highways

In Dubai, there are over 18,500 kilometers (11.500 miles) of paved roads, out of which there are over 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) of broad, three and more-lane highways. The longest and most famous highway is Sheikh Zayed Road, which connects Dubai with Abu Dhabi. This major highway runs through Dubai’s main urban area. Dubai’s highways are designated by the letter “E” or “D,” with E highways going East to West and D highways going North to South. Since Dubai is constantly developing, new roads, junctions, and overpasses are being built every day, tending to the vibrant traffic.

Since the Emirate of Dubai is located on the seaside and the flat surface, there are no mountains, just the Desert surrounding the city. However, for keen drivers, there are exciting mountain roads just north of Dubai in the Jebel al Harim region, as well as desert driving tours, which are especially interesting. Dubai road network is known for its quality, well-paved roads with minimal imperfections. Also, all relevant roads are well-marked and easy to navigate, with most of the highways covered by lights, which is very helpful when it is dark.

Traffic Conditions

Despite having a well-designed road network, Dubai, like most of the major cities in the world, is no stranger to traffic jams. However, they are mostly limited to rush hours and central city areas. The traffic jams often occur along the Sheik Zayed Road, Dubai Airport, and major commercial and business areas. However, besides the occasional traffic jam, driving in Dubai is a pleasurable experience, especially when following the impressive skyscraper skyline’s coastal roads or exploring one of Dubai’s tourist attractions. Avoid driving during peak traffic hours, usually between 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM and 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM.

Since Dubai has an arid desert climate with sweltering and humid summers and warm winters, this can affect driving habits. During the summer, using the AC to cool down the vehicle before driving is recommended, as avoiding driving with the windows down and having a water bottle in the cup holder, especially if you get stuck in traffic. When parking in covered areas, be aware that it can get extremely hot, so exercise caution when opening your car doors. The perfect driving season in Dubai starts in autumn and winter when the temperatures are mild, and you can drive all day with the top down. Even though rain is a rare occurrence, sand storms are common, especially if you go on the outskirts of the city. For inexperienced drivers, they might be dangerous since visibility becomes limited when strong winds pick up the sand.

ES Magazine Erleben

Road Regulations Dubai

In Dubai, as in all Middle East, cars drive on the right side of the road. Most traffic rules are the same as in other countries with the same system. Having an international driver’s license and your national license are mandatory. All occupants in the vehicle must wear the seatbelt. The minimum age for driving in Dubai is 18 years old. Due to the significant number of expats in Dubai, traffic authorities insist on international driver’s licenses, which are easily obtainable and have internationally accepted forms. When renting a car in Dubai, you should have your passport, proof of insurance, and rental contract. If you get pulled over by police, those are the documents they will be looking for. There are few specific driving rules in Dubai, like being able to make a U-turn at every traffic light, and children under 12 years are not allowed in the front seats. Avoid using a mobile phone while driving since it is forbidden.

As an Islamic state, the Emirate of Dubai has zero tolerance for alcohol use when driving. If you get pulled over and your alcohol blood level is above 0.0, you will almost certainly be imprisoned and fined. Authorities are very strict, there is no way to avoid the punishment, and we urge all our clients not to drink and drive. If you get involved in an accident and have been drinking, besides spending some time in jail and paying expensive fines, you can expect to be banned from entering the Emirate of Dubai.

Speed Limits

In contrast to other places in the world, the speed limits in Dubai are generous. The authorities allow some speed buffer (usually up to 20 km/h or 12 mph) over the official speed limit, which is helpful. However, if the buffer speed is exceeded, the driver will almost certainly get a ticket since most of Dubai’s main roads and highways are covered with cameras. Always avoid speeding, first for safety and second because the tickets are expensive. Interestingly, the buffer rule is accepted in Dubai and all surrounding emirates, except in Abu Dhabi.

The highway’s speed limit is 120 km/h (75 miles), while on the urban dual carriageway the limit is 80 km/h (55 mph). On the single carriageway in an urban environment, the limit is set at 60 km/h (40 mph), while in residential areas, the maximum allowed speed is 40 km/h (25 mph). The exciting thing about Dubai’s speed limits is that highways are not the fastest roads in the area. Outside the urban areas, the speed limit is set at a very high 160 km/h (100 mph) on rural roads. Locals mostly use those roads and are not part of the usual tourist routes.

Liwa Oasis driving car

Parking And Toll

As a city dedicated to cars, Dubai’s planners paid much attention to the parking spots scattered around the city. The parking areas are clearly designated, easily reachable, and relatively inexpensive. Also, street parking is allowed on most streets. However, pay attention to areas with yellow and black painted curbs. These colors mark no parking area. If you will be driving a lot of the city, downloading a parking app is the best way to pay and search for places to leave your car.

Dubai has a modern and advanced toll system on five major highways. There are no toll booths or rams, and payment is made automatically through the Salik device on your car’s windshield. Every time you drive one of those five highways, 4 AED (1 Euro – 1.1 USD) will be charged to your Salik account. All vehicles registered in Dubai have the Salik tag installed, and when you rent a luxury car, a toll charge will be added to your account.

Driving with kids in Dubai

  • Children below 12 years are not allowed to drive in the passenger seat unless they fit in a certified child seat mounted against the direction of travel with the air bag disabled.
  • It is mandatory for children below 12 years that are driving in the rear to be secured with fitting child or booster seats as well as safety belts.
  • Dubai Luxury Car Hire: Appropriate child seats are provided by the rental company most of the time.
Baby sleeping car

Useful Advice

Coming from Europe or America, you might be surprised by some locals and their driving habits. Despite heavily enforced speed limits, you may experience the traffic moving much faster, which could happen on the highways outside the city. Although you might want to drive more quickly, we suggest you obey the traffic laws at all times.

Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world, with meager crime rates and a very efficient police force. Street parking a luxury vehicle is not uncommon and unsafe. However, try to avoid dark alleys and remote areas.

Driving outside the city and in rural areas might be dangerous since local drivers are known to go without their headlights, at high speed, and without using turn signals. If you find yourself on such a road, be alert, keep your distance, and pay attention to all road users to avoid accidents. Sometimes, the behavior of other road users is unexplainable, so keeping a safe space is the best policy.

The Desert surrounding Dubai is a fascinating place for driving, but it is best explored in organized tours and with proper all-wheel-drive vehicles. Do not try to go off the pavement in a two-wheel-drive car without off-road driving experience. You may get stuck and in need of assistance.

Be patient and considerate, especially in heavy traffic. Road rage is not tolerated, and aggressive driving can result in fines.

If you like to rent a luxury car in Dubai such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Rolls-Royce or Bentley, feel free to contact Edel & Stark at any time.

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