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Driving in Dubai: a comprehensive guide

Residents and non-residents can easily drive around Dubai with the required documentation and by following the rules.

Key highways

  • E11 – this is an arterial highway running across six of the seven Emirates of the UAE (except Fujairah)
  • Sheikh Zayed Road – this is a toll road and forms the central part of the E11 running across Dubai, covering many of the city’s key landmarks, including Mall of the Emirates, Burj Khalifa, Museum of the Future and Bur Dubai
  • E311 – also known as Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, this is a toll-free highway that connects Dubai to neighbouring Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain
  • E44 – called Al Khail Road in Dubai, this is also a toll-free highway that connects the city to Hatta. It has multiple exits leading to various Dubai neighbourhoods, including JLT (Jumeirah Lakes Towers), Deira, Ras Al Khor and more.
  • E66 – this road connects Dubai to Al Ain, starting at Wafi City and running perpendicular to E311 and E11

Basic requirements

Driving licence for people of determination 

Dubai is an inclusive city, empowering people of determination to pursue and obtain a driver’s licence as long as they meet certain set conditions based on recommendations from relevant medical reports. 

Customised classes accommodate people of determination, with necessary adjustments to help the driver overcome challenges. Drivers with certain physical disabilities can modify their privately owned vehicles accordingly and train with adaptive driving equipment.

Transition to a valid Dubai driver licence

Residents who already hold a driver’s licence in another country can transfer it in the UAE, including Dubai, by visiting a driver’s licence department with the following documents:

Driving schools

Multiple RTA-approved driving schools in Dubai offer a variety of services for residents and visitors, including:

  • Driving courses for beginners
  • Refresher courses for experienced drivers
  • Licence transfer services

Popular driving institutes

Dive deeper

Learn more about the full procedure of obtaining a driver’s licence in Dubai.

Required documents

Documents needed to rent a car in Dubai vary for tourists, expatriates and citizens. Expatriates may need to provide:

Car rental and sharing services
Buying a new car

Dubai has numerous dealerships that offer a range of vehicles and payment plans. Residents who want to purchase a car must submit the following:

Getting auto insurance 

Having car insurance is mandatory for all Dubai vehicle owners (the insurance is usually provided by the agency in case of rented vehicles). 

Things to know about car insurance:

  • Many types of insurance are available. Most commonly, motorists go for third-party insurance, which covers bodily injury and any damage done to property by the owner’s vehicle.
  • Comprehensive insurance extends to the owned vehicle, covering accidents, theft or natural disasters. Platforms like Insurance Market provide guides to understand more about insurance options.
  • Car insurance in Dubai typically ranges from 1.25% to 3% of the car’s value. Factors such as previous insurance claims, the driver’s age and licence history may affect these rates. It is advisable to compare insurance rates and conditions between various providers before making a final choice.
Car insurance documents
Car insurance expires after a 12-month period, with a 30-day grace period for renewal. Driving without car insurance incurs a fine of AED500, as well as 4 black points on the driving licence. The car may even be impounded for seven days.
Car insurance companies

Keeping your car roadworthy

Prepare for tolls

Dubai has several toll gates, each incurring a fee called Salik. Every car needs an activated Salik tag with a credit balance, which is crucial to avoid fines. Salik tags can be purchased at RTA customer service centres, some branches of gas stations like Emarat, ADNOC, EPPCO/ENOC, as well as banks and the online RTA portal. 

Salik tags can be activated through:
  • Salik website or mobile app
  • Dubai Drive application
  • Dubai Now application
  • Customer happiness centres 

Topping up Salik balance can be done via the Salik helpline, website, mobile app, SMS and cash deposit machines.

Salik Toll gate image

Fuel

Petrol stations are conveniently located across the city, from providers like ADNOC, ENOC and Emarat. Fuel prices can vary, but average at approximately AED3 per litre. Several petrol station chains offer loyalty programmes, and Dubai also has services like CAFU that offer fuel delivery to any location in the city (some fuel chains also offer similar services).

Petrol stations chain that offer fuel delivery

Parking

Parking areas in Dubai are divided into multiple zones (commercial, non-commercial and special, designated with alphabets from A to K). Zone codes can differ even on the same street, so pay attention to avoid getting a parking fine in Dubai.

Paid hourly parking is enforced from 8am to 10pm in most zones (timings may differ during the holy month of Ramadan). Parking is free on Sundays and public holidays. 

Typically, parking costs around AED2 to AED4 per hour. Payment can be made at designated parking metres, by using the mParking service via SMS, or via the RTA app.

Ample parking space and alternative modes of transport make Modhesh World an easily accessible destination for families

Car servicing and maintenance

Regular maintenance and servicing are essential to keep cars safe, reliable and roadworthy. Most neighbourhoods have specialised car service companies, including car garages and workshops, auto washes and roadside assistance. Some are even present within major petrol stations.

Regular maintenance and servicing to keep cars safe,

Roadside assistance

This service is available either via the car’s insurance provider or by calling a roadside assistance service. Additionally, stranded drivers can contact Dubai Police for help. 

Roadside assistance for car servicing

Accidents and incidents

Use the official Dubai Police app to report any accidents or mishaps on the road. An official police report is mandatory for insurance claims and intervention, and to get repairs in auto garages or workshops for cars that have been involved in any kind of accident.

Using app to report mishaps, incidents on road

Quick tips for driving in Dubai

  • Know the speed limits: streets in the city have a 'buffer zone' of 20kmph over the stated speed limit. Drivers and motorists must stay within this limit to ensure road safety and avoid driving fines in Dubai. Streets are monitored by radar and fines will be automatically applied on any vehicle violating traffic rules or exceeding the speed limits. 
  • Know the local road rules and regulations thoroughly
  • Use RTA Smart Drive to navigate the city better
  • Always ensure that the driver and all passengers are wearing their seatbelts. This improves safety and helps owners avoid fines and black points. 
  • All drivers must be 18 years of age or older to drive in the city
  • Maintain a safe driving distance
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