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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.

Dubai Driving Guide

So you have planned your visit to this newly created mega city in the SW corner of the Arabian Gulf, maybe to visit friends and relatives, do business or just maybe just visiting out of curiosity. Whatever it is, you cannot help, but be transfixed by the extravagance of the place, and the money pouring into the creation and building of the latest and greatest monument or attraction.  Glitzy, massive, expensive — it’s all here.

Emiratis only make up a fraction of the population which is made up of all nationalities from around the globe, lending itself to being a melting pot of most cultures. The region is a lot more relaxed than its neighbouring countries, but it still pays to be respectful of underlying conservative Islamic values in how you dress and behave, so as to not upset the locals and the authorities.

Cars are what Emiratis have a passion for. So when you rent your car, be assured that the roads are first class and there are some really interesting places to take your vehicle for a spin.

  • Here are some ideas that some locals have suggested, for a drive out of the big city.
  • Dubai to Dibba
  • 1 h 29 min to Dibba (144.2 km) via Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Rd
  • This drive is a far cry from the towering skyscrapers and building sites of Dubai. On one side of the road you will see the Arabian Gulf and on the other, the dramatic soaring mountains that come close to its edge.
  • At Dibba you can take a dhow around the port and if you have a 4WD you may consider going out to the nearby Wadi Khab Shamsi
  • Dibba is in Oman, so don’t forget to take your passport as you will have to cross over the border. No visas are required, and the process may only take a minute or to, but with no passport for each of the car’s occupants, there is no entry. Dubai to Khasab
  • 2 h 29 min to Khasab (198.1 km) via Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Rd
  • On a clear day this is becomes a spectacular drive along the winding roads of the Musandam coast. The area has a nickname as the “Norway of the Middle East” with its many fjords, together with a few small quiet bay areas suitable for camping.
  • Along the way there is a Bedouin village in Sharjah, but you’ll need to detour from your route along Emirates Road (E311) towards the Sharjah Desert Park (E88), then turn left, driving up north on E611. The village is situated around exit 119.
  • When you get to Khasab, its worth considering taking the ferry that goes around the coast to Lima which will take around three hours.  Once again, this destination is over the Omani border, so you will need a passport for each of the car’s occupants to get in.
  • Important: When renting a car, check with the car rental firm on their conditions as to whether you’re allowed to drive the car into Oman, and make sure you have all the necessary paperwork and forms with you.
  • Dubai to Al Ain (via Jebel Hafeet)
  • 2 h 29 min to Al Ain Arrive around · Leave around · 200 km via E 66 via via typically 2 h
  • This trip will take a bit longer if you decide to stop off along the way. The main attraction of this trip is Jebel Hafeet, a huge mountain that sits between the UAE and Oman on the border.  It rises to 1250 metres above sea level and you have astonishing views on either side of the range. It is considered by some as one of the greatest driving roads in the world by some commentators, but we’ll let you be the judge of that.  Along the way there, be sure to stop off at the Green Mubazarrah, which is a lush area of trees and greenery with hot springs.
  • There are several other points of interest, such as Al Ain which house two museums, being the Al Ain National Museum and the Al Ain Palace Museum. There is also a zoo at Al Ain and a Wildlife Park, together with the Wadi Adventure waterpark which has man-made surf and white-water rafting.
  • To take in all the sites on this trip you will need to leave early, even though it is close to Dubai.
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