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Driving Tips - The UAE

Getting around by car in The UAE can be a good idea because the public transport there is very limited. Driving around The UAE can be a pleasurable experience because the roads are modern and in excellent condition; however, you must not forget that there will be many aspects of driving etiquette and rules that may be unfamiliar to you. This guide serves to equip you with some indispensable knowledge about the rules of the road in The UAE.


When driving in The UAE it is necessary to carry:

  • An International Driving Permit (IDP)
  • Drivers licence from country of origin
  • Vehicle insurance documents if you are renting a car

Age Restrictions

  • The minimum driving age is 18 (eighteen) years old

Driving Rules, Laws and Regulations

  • Driving is done on the right hand side of the road
  • You are not permitted to drive in the hard shoulder or to the left of the innermost lane. This carries a heavy penalty.
  • You are permitted to use a hands-free kit
  • Never drive without a licence. A big fine will be issued and your car may be impounded.
  • Never make rude hand gestures or swear at other drivers. Prison time could be a consequence of being caught.
  • Trams have priority except in emergencies when ambulance or police are present
  • Obstructing a tram is illegal
  • Traffic lights will tend to display the traditional 4 (four) phase sequence although at a lot of junctions there is a 5th (fifth) phase where there will be a flashing green after the steady green
  • Signs are displayed in Arabic and English
  • Priority is given to circulating traffic at roundabouts
  • Pedestrians are rarely given right of way at crossings

Speed Limits and Fines

It is highly recommended to follow these general speed limits whilst driving in The UAE:

  • 100 or 120km/hour (62mph or 74.5mph) on highways
  • 60 or 80km/hour (37mph or 50mph) on main roads
  • 40km/hour (25mph) on small suburban streets

There will be many specific limits for particular roads, expressways and beach roads which you should adhere to carefully. Speed limit signs are usually posted just after a speed camera.

There are a number of speed radars on the roads and you will be given a speeding fine if detected.

Speeding fines are sometimes payable annually.

Drunk Driving

The UAE operate a zero tolerance towards alcohol. Being caught with any amount of alcohol in your system could mean time in prison and fines.

If you are found to be intoxicated you will face time in prison and your insurance would be invalidated.


Free parking is usually found in car parks that belong to shopping, hotels and supermarkets. However they are often difficult to find a space in.

Some areas in The UAE are subject to parking charges.

Road side parking and off-street car parks are usually free from 13:00-16:00, Fridays and public holidays. Orange solar powered ticket machines provide you with a parking ticket.

Parking on the road is not permitted anywhere, except in marked bays.

Parking fines are issued for failure to pay a parking fee.

Abu Dhabi Driving Guide

A trip to Abu Dhabi will be a lot quieter than visiting its neighbor Dubai.  The city has taken a more conservative approach its development with projects planned a lot more wisely, and retains a more laid back approach.

Even so, this city was only a small fishing village in the middle of the last century, with a few coral buildings, a fort and barasti huts amongst the Arabian Sands of the Gulf. The ruling Al-Nahyan family certainly came from nothing to incredible riches with the black gold that lay beneath their feet, but for all of that wealth, you have the sense that this place will be connected to the sand and the Gulf that sits beside it, long after all the massive income from oil has expired.

There’s plenty to do in Abu Dhabi itself, but if you are looking for ideas on where your rental car could take you outside of the city, we have got some ideas provided to us by some locals.  Here’s our pick.

Abu Dhabi to Al Maha

2 h 8 min to Al Maha (Arrive around · Leave around · 164 km)  via Abu Dhabi - Sweihan - Al Hayer Rd  via via typically

If you like animals you’ll have plenty of opportunity to see lots of camels here, plus you’ll see a lot of greenery along the way.

If you want to a more scenic journey, turn off at exit 47 from the E66 and head to the village of Maugham. Go through this village, and turn right later onto the E44, then join the E55 which becomes the E60 after you go through Shwaib. Later you get to the E66 again, where you turn right and follow the road towards Dubai. Look out for the sign to Al Maha, before the village of Murqquab.

Abu Dhabi to Ras Al Khaimah

2 h 50 min to Ras Al Khaimah (254.0 km) via Dubai - Ghweifat International Hwy/E11 and E 311/Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Rd

This can be a busy trip with plenty of cars on the road as you drive past Dubai and Sharjah to Ras Al Khaimah.  So we suggest that you put aside some time to relax in your own pool villa where you can watch gazelles and Arabian Oryx close by. There is also falconry on the deck or go to the rooftop terrace to watch the stars at night.  The purpose of this trip is to stay at the Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach as it is the only place here — but that takes nothing away from the experience.

Abu Dhabi to Liwa Oasis

2h to Liwa Oasis (150kms)

There are 50 villages in this region which is the birth place of the ruling families of Abu Dhabi. When you arrive, it will give you a sense of the history of the region as well as opportunities to see the local date farms or do some dune bashing.

To get there head down the E11 out of Abu Dhabi to Al Maqatrah and then turn on to the E45 and keep driving.

Abu Dhabi to Al Ruwais

2 h 53 min to Al Ruwais (Arrive around · Leave around · 255 km) via Dubai - Ghweifat International Hwy/E11  via via typically

This trip is all about the drive and experiencing the enormity of the petroleum industry that make this area so wealthy. Towards the end of the drive there are plenty of unspoilt beaches and natural islands next to Sir Bani Yas Island.  Many petroleum employees live out here and you will see plenty of trucks as it’s used as the main road into Saudi Arabia. There are no shortages of places to stay around Abu Dhabi or further afield if you are taking day trips. The places can range from the sumptuous and exotic luxury end, right down to the most budget of stays. Either way, with the money you save on your car rental at Cheaperthancars it will go a long way towards reducing the cost of your deals found on our other site Cheaperthanhotels.

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