How to drive in Arab Emirates?

Basic rules of the roads and driving requirements.


Traffic drives on the right and passes on the left. Accident rates in the UAE are among the highest in the world. Traffic accidents are a leading cause of death in the UAE because drivers often drive at high speeds. Unsafe driving practices are common, especially on inter-city highways. On highways, unmarked speed bumps and drifting sand create additional hazards. All accidents must be reported to the police, and vehicles should not be moved until the police arrive. In Dubai only, vehicles involved in minor accidents may be moved to the side while waiting for the police. Drivers involved in an accident resulting in injuries may be jailed until the injured persons are released from hospital. Visitors involved in an accident resulting in fatalities should be aware that compensation is regularly awarded to the family of the deceased. Lengthy court proceedings may result from relatively minor accidents.

Roads and Motorways

There is a high quality road network throughout the United Arab Emirates. There are good tarmac roads running along the west coast between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah; between Sharjah and Dhaid; and linking Dubai with other Northern States and the interior. The road system is based along British or European standards, with a plethora of roundabouts and highly channelized traffic. But the signs are readily understandable and are, in most places, clear and coherent.


Dubai municipality has parking meters in many central car parks, main roads and central streets. You must pay at the Orange ticket dispenser, get your ticket and display it on your dashboard. You can also buy a parking card that can be used in the meters through Emarart Service Stations (The Green Ones) or sometimes from a parking officer. Fines are high if you don't have a ticket, overstay your time, or if you even just park on the footpath, pavement or sidewalk for a few minutes.

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Country-wide traffic laws impose stringent penalties for certain violations, particularly driving under the influence of alcohol. In the UAE, there is zero tolerance for driving after consumption of alcohol. Penalties may include hefty jail sentences and fines and, for Muslims (even those holding U.S. citizenship), lashings. Persons involved in an accident in which another party is injured automatically go to jail until the injured person is released from the hospital. Drivers are advised to conform to traffic rules and regulations and avoid committing traffic offences that may result, not only in fines, but also in "Black Points" which, if accumulated, can result in a suspension of the driving licence or even harsher penalties.


Petrol (gasoline) is, by the standards of both the U.S. and Europe, inexpensive.


Built-up areas: 60 to 80kph (37-50mph)
Elsewhere: 100 to 120kph (62 to 74mph)

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There are toll gates at Garhoud Bridge and Sheikh Zayed Road, among others.


The minimum age to drive in UAE is 18 years. Most major companies refuse to rent a car to someone who is under 21 and in some cases 25.

Drivers Licence

In Abu Dhabi and Dubai you will need an International Driving Licence (IDL) to drive a car. Elsewhere you need a full UAE licence. Foreign driver's licenses are not recognized. However, a non-resident visitor to the UAE can drive if he/she obtains a valid International Driver's License issued by the motor vehicle authority of the country whose passport the traveler holds. The UAE recognizes driver's licenses issued by other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states only if the bearer is driving a vehicle registered to the same GCC state. Under no circumstances should anyone drive without a valid license.


Use of seatbelts everytime is widely recommended.


Use of special children seats is recommended.


Motorcycles are very rarely used, as it is very dangerous to ride a motorcycle in the UAE. They are mainly used by carrier services, as motorcycles have no problems getting through traffic jams to insure fast delivery.


Police 999
Ambulance 998
Fire 997

Sources: The Emirates Network / Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada / U.S. Department of State / Easy Expat / / Wikitravel / Automotive Directory of the UAE / UAE Interact / Dubai Police