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Driving in Dubai

Because the distances in Dubai are quite large, renting a car is the ideal solution for some people. Especially if you have been to Dubai more than once and know the way, it can be useful to travel in the city on your own initiative.

If you are going to participate in the traffic in Dubai keep in mind that the traffic in the city can be very hectic for foreigners. The use of a navigation system can therefore be very useful, but this also does not always guarantee that you will arrive at your destination without a mistake. You can take a navigation system from home (make sure you have the map of the United Arab Emirates on the navigation system). Many rental companies also offer the option to rent a navigation system for a small extra charge.

Due to the constant growth of the city, there are quite a lot of road works. Roads are temporarily diverted or the turns are sometimes different than the navigation system indicates. It is advisable to plan extra travel time if you have to be somewhere on time. These activities and diversions also cause sudden congestion with all the associated dangers.

Safety on the road

Dubai has a bad reputation when it comes to road deaths. This is not due to the condition of the roads; these have recently been named the best in the world. But it is mainly because of the many foreigners who get behind the wheel inexperienced and, for example, get full brakes on the highway, reverse on the highway or overtake on the right at high speeds. The sheiks also regularly test the top speed of their sports cars on the highway, which can lead to dangerous situations. Because of the low rainfall in Dubai it is extra careful if you are on the road. Many people do not know how the windshield wipers work because they are rarely used or inexperienced. The roads can quickly become slippery if the rain starts to mix with the oil, rubber and dirt on the roads.

Also the traffic on the roads in Dubai can be a disaster. During rush hour the roads in the city can be very busy, especially the Sheikh Zayed Road. The various tunnels in the city and the bridges over the Dubai Creek are busy bottlenecks that can cause considerable traffic congestion.

Driving in Dubai

International Driving License

If you want to drive a car in Dubai or you want to rent a rental car in Dubai, you need an international driver’s license (IRB). For more information about the rules for a driving license in Dubai look at the website of The national or Visit Dubai.

Traffic rules in Dubai

The traffic rules in Dubai are similar to those in Europe. For example, the use of seat belts is required and calling is prohibited behind the wheel. Be especially careful with alcohol in traffic, because Dubai has a zero-tolerance policy on alcohol in traffic. Anyone caught with alcohol behind the wheel risks a high fine and a prison sentence, even with a low promille.

Due to the high number of traffic casualties, they are taking increasingly harder action against speeding offenders in Dubai. Speed cameras or temporary speed cameras appear at many locations and more and more roads are being provided with traffic mounds to prevent people from reaching too high a speed. This is especially noticeable on the Jumeirah Beach Road where various traffic hills have been built at the junctions that you certainly should not take at too high a speed. The flash checks mainly take place along the Sheikz Zayed Road, the Jumeirah Beach Road and the Al Suhouf Road. Depending on the location, 100 or 120 km / h may be driven on these roads. If you drive on these roads, pay attention to the signs that indicate the maximum speed.

Fuel prices in Dubai

The prices of gas and diesel are very low in Dubai. A litre (1/4 gallon) of gas Special 95 will cost you between 2,42 Dirham and 2,18 Dirham, the per-litre price of Super 98 is 2,30 dirham. Diesel price has been fixed at 2,35 dirham per litre.

The prices of fuel in Dubai are partly dependent on the world wide oil price and the exchange rates between the dirham and the dollar which change daily. But in general, thanks to the low fuel price in Dubai, filling your car’s tank is a bargain compare to many countries.

Toll roads (Salik)

Just like various European countries, Dubai has a toll system for the highways. The toll system is called “Salik” and consists of a number of toll gates which can be found at various locations in Dubai, including the Sheik Zayed Road and the Al Maktoum Bridge. Click here for an overview of all locations.

The only thing you need for this fully automated toll system is a so-called “Salik tag” which is placed on the windshield of the car. If you drive through the clearly recognizable toll gates with this tag, the system will register your car and the toll will be calculated automatically. The rates of the toll are 4 AED. If you have rented a car, this amount is automatically charged to you via the credit card. For more information about the Salik toll system in Dubai you can check the official Salik website

Bugatti Chiron in front of the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai

Distances and travel times in Dubai

Many people think that Dubai is not that big and are therefore soon mistaken in travel times. Dubai measures almost 50 kilometers from north to south. The width of the city only increases due to the many new construction projects inland, which ensures a long journey time. The many traffic jams, congestion and diversions also cause the necessary extra delays. So, if you have to be somewhere in Dubai at a certain time, leave on time.

Below we have made a list of the average travel times from the roundabout in front of the Dubai International Airport to a number of the sights and famous neighborhoods in Dubai. The travel times apply to transport by car and we have not taken any delays into account.

Dubai International Airport to Deira: 7 kilometers – 10-14 minutes
Dubai International Airport to Bur Dubai (Citymax Hotel Bur Dubai): 15 kilometers – 17-21 minutes
Dubai International Airport to World Trade Center: 15.5 kilometers – 15-19 minutes
Dubai International Airport to Dubai Mall: 19 kilometers – 19-24 minutes
Dubai International Airport to Mall of the Emirates: 31 kilometers – 26-30 minutes
Dubai International Airport to Atlantis the Palm: 41.5 kilometers – 35-40 minutes
Dubai International Airport to Meydan Racecourse: 22 kilometers – 19-23 minutes
Dubai International Airport to Dubai Marina (Marina Mall): 38 kilometers – 31-36 minutes
Dubai International Airport to Jumeirah Beach Walk (Hilton Hotel): 39 kilometers – 33-38 minutes
Dubai International Airport to Ibn Battuta Mall: 43 kilometers – 33-38 minutes

Parking in Dubai

Many of the large shopping centers have large parking garages where you can park for free or you only have to pay after 3/4 hour. The hotels and many restaurants, which are not on the boulevard or in a shopping center, work with valet parking, the staff will park your car and pick it up again for you. The hotel often requires a small fee for this.

At the smaller shopping centers and the separate supermarkets there are generally parking places, but often there are few available places here. Note that you have to pay at the separate parking places along the road to park. Make sure you always have enough coins to pay for the parking meter. Fines for “illegal” parking are between 100 and 200 Dirham. Parking is free on Friday and during the day between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Speed cameras in Dubai

In Dubai you can find a lot of speed cameras! Due to the large number of super-fast sports cars, people in Dubai have been suffering from speed racing cars through the streets for years. To put an end to this, speed cameras were installed at a large number of locations around the city. They have also placed traffic mounds on various roads just behind the traffic lights, these should prevent a race from being quickly pulled up at the traffic light.

You will only be thrown on the receipt if the maximum speed is amply exceeded. Whoever thinks you don’t have to pay as a tourist will be disappointed. The rental company simply deducts the amount of the fine from your credit card with which you have guaranteed by the rental of your car.


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