Your UAE Driving Guide

self drive cars in dubai

Are you moving to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or one of the other emirates and do you want to drive here? Make sure that you know how to make your way through the crazy traffic. Traffic rules, driver’s licenses, and toll roads: you can find all the information you need in our guide!

Below are some responses to the most common doubts about driving in the UAE

  • Side of the Road:
  • In the UAE, drivers drive on the left hand side of the road. Similar to the USA, Canada, Germany and France, and unlike in the UK, India, South Africa and various other countries.

    Driving license

  • Visitors who are not Residents of the UAE:
  • For visitors on tourist and visit visas, an International Driver’s Permit in conjunction with the national license of the driver is necessary for driving in the UAE. Alternatively, you can also obtain a temporary driver’s license if you hold a driver’s license issued by governments in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and a few other European countries. This is normally valid for 6 months.

  • UAE Residents (Nationals and Expatriates):
  • On obtaining a resident visa, it is mandatory to have a driving license issued by UAE authorities. You can no longer use an International Driving Permit or Temporary driver’s license. Certain nationalities can get a local license simply by showing their own driving license and completing some paper work. Others may need to go through the driving test. For more details, please contact our customer service team – Contact Us

    Those arriving from countries with transferable drivers licenses (like the UK, USA, Canada, EU, Singapore, South Africa) can rent based on their home-country drivers license while they are still on a visit visa, but their driver’s license must be converted to a UAE drivers license within 2 weeks of them receiving their UAE residence visa. In this case, the need for a 6 month old license to rent a car will be waived. Both the home-country license and the new UAE driver’s license must be provided to Car lease. The full list of countries with transferable driver’s licenses can be found.

  • Obeying the traffic rules
  • While entering in the busy traffic of the UAE, you have to keep your mind focused on the traffic rules. Like in many countries, the minimum age for driving in UAE is 18, and you’re only allowed to drive with a valid driver’s license. Something that’s also good to know is that the traffic moves on the right-hand side of the road and turning right on a red light is forbidden. Make sure you are not using your phone while driving, because using it while driving is not allowed — except when using a hands-free system. Wearing seat belt while in a car is must for all the people present there. Children who weigh between 18–36 kg and are less than 145 cm tall should be seated on a child special seat. Children below the age of ten years are not allowed to sit in the front seat.

    The last but the most important traffic rule is drink and drive, it is prohibited regardless of the amount. The punishments for this are very serious — you face between one month and three years imprisonment and/or a fine of between 20,000 and 30,000 AED. And if that isn’t enough, you also lose your driving license for a certain amount of time.

  • Traffic Fines:
  • There are radar monitoring the roads in the UAE (both stationary and mobile) . Fines are very heavy – ranging from AED 300 to AED 10,000) so drive in the speed limits. Drivers should stay alert while driving and avoid all distractions.

    Speed limits on the roads in the UAE are as follows:

    • Highways: 100–120 kmph
    • Urban Areas: 40–80 kmph
    • Residential Areas: 40 kmph
  • The Black Points System
  • The UAE has a black points system, where you receive black points for your traffic violations. This means you won’t only get a fine when you break the traffic rules. The maximum amount of points you’re allowed to have is 24, if you exceed that limit, you may be banned from driving any type of vehicle for one year. Each traffic violation has a different amount of black points assigned to it. For example Intoxicated or drunk driving will give you 24 points immediately. If you’re caught speeding, you’ll get twelve points and breaching a red light will get you eight. The black points you receive have a validity of one year. After that, they are deleted from the system and you start out with a blank slate again.

  • The Declining Number of Road Accidents
  • Even though the UAE has an excellent road network, the number of road accidents is high. However, that number is steadily decreasing each year, as the government is improving the roads. From 2011 to 2013, the total number of road accidents declined by almost 25% and the number of fatalities dropped by almost 10%. So you can say that driving in the UAE is getting a lot safer.

    The main causes for traffic accidents in the UAE are sudden swerving, misjudgment of other road users, speeding, tailgating, and lack of attention. You should therefore be on the lookout for other road users’ unsafe driving practices and remember to employ defensive driving techniques.

    One thing to remember when you’re involved in a road accident is to leave your car where it is when someone is injured — when no one’s hurt, you can move it to the side of the road.

  • Salik (Toll):
  • Highways and streets in Dubai are subject to Tolling, referred to as Salik. Salik(toll) gate charges are AED 4 per crossing and an administration cost for Carlease is AED 1. The total cost including the administration fee per crossing is therefore AED 5 which can be paid by salik tags.

  • Ready for an Adventure? Tips for Desert Driving
  • It’s not only important to know how to stay safe on the normal roads, but also under special circumstances. When you’re going to make a trip into the desert and you’re going by car, you should take precautions. The safest way of driving is with a 4x4 vehicle. You should make sure that you bring enough water and a phone with good service. And don’t forget to watch out for camels!

    There is a big selection of desert driving courses (to choose from) in the UAE. During these courses, you learn how to handle a 4x4 vehicle, about the topography of the desert, and about situations that are likely to happen. It is very important to know how to stay safe and how to keep cool if anything happens. The Emirates Driving Institute has more information on the courses and on how to register.