The Complete Guide to Renting a Car & Driving in Dubai, UAE
The United Arab Emirates is an amazing land, with prosperous people, spacious planes, awesome people, and, of course, wide and high-quality roads. Indeed, the place is designed for cars, and it would be plainly unwise to avoid them while enjoying your days in the UAE. So, read this article to get an understanding of the process of car hire in Dubai to unlock the maximum potential of your UAE stay.
How to rent a car in Dubai?
How does the procedure to rent a car in Dubai go?
Once you’ve chosen a car (or, most likely, reserved it in advance), these steps are taken to finally drive off. Be aware about the certain requirements to rent a car in Dubai, which will be mentioned below.
Fill in data and allow the deposit to be frozen
Fill out the survey with your data – first name, last name, where you are staying in UAE, etc. After that, sign a rental agreement. The car rental regulations in most rental services make it obligatory to block an equivalent of 1500-300 dirhams (depending on the brand of the car and the rental office) of funds in case of damage to the car or traffic fines issued to the drivers, and it is hard to find a credible “no deposit” car rental in Dubai. In a couple of weeks after the car have been returned, the funds will be safely returned to your banking card.
Car rental companies almost always offer additional insurance. For a certain surcharge, the deductible (your liability in case of an accident) will be equal to zero. This is at your discretion – if you doubt your driving abilities, you can insure yourself.
Note any prior damage
Be sure to inspect the car for visible damage (dents, scratches, etc) prior to driving off. If there are any, require that the rental worker note them in the corresponding act. Together with the rental worker, go around the car in a circle and note the issues, and then sign the act.
Also, pay attention to the fuel level in the gas tank. It is a usual requirement to bring back the car with the same level of fuel. Additionally, it is highly desirable to film the entire procedure of the prior car inspection. If suddenly issues arise when you will be handing the car over, this video recording will greatly help and clarify the situation.
Be sure to write down the rental office’s phone number in case of unforeseen force majeure situations (like an accident, car breaking down, etc.). Additionally, don’t forget to specify where exactly should the car be handed over, mark the place in your Navigator app.
What are the documents required to rent a car in the UAE?
International driving license
It is prohibited to drive without an international driving license in the UAE. Only some small, shady car rental in UAE will rent you a car without IDL, but they will warn you about the responsibility nonetheless; and besides, the price of such a rental will be twice as expensive. It is not surprising therefore that respectable international rental companies will not rent you a car without an IDL.
The main thing to understand is that an IDL is a gray booklet with information translated into different languages (with additional information about the driver’s eye color, height, etc. (the list of countries should include the Emirates). In fact, this is a translation of national rights into 12 languages. But for the UAE, this is quite enough. All rental offices accept this document. It is imperative to take national driving licenses with an IDL, although in practice, in the UAE, national driving licenses are not always checked at a rental office.
International credit card of at least “Classic”
The card must be embossed (with a raised card number and owner’s name and surname, necessarily in the name of the driver.) The card should be designated as a credit card by BIN number.
Keep in mind that the card must have the required amount for the deposit (the amount of the deposit must be clarified in advance when booking a car). It is better to put money on the card with a small margin, taking into account fluctuations in exchange rates, etc. But it is better not to keep a very large amount on the card, in order to avoid fraud.
Do not forget to notify the bank before leaving for another country so that your card is not suddenly blocked for conducting suspicious transactions. (Not all banks have such a requirement, banks are gradually moving away from this, but sometimes it happens.)
The driver should be no younger than 21 years old, and in some cases this requirement reaches 25 years of age.
Voucher for the reserved car (optional)
If you booked a car via the Internet, then print and take the voucher with you.
Where to rent a car in Dubai
There are plenty of rental companies in the UAE, both local and international. You can find their offices not only near the tourist hubs like airports, but also in the streets.
The advantages of using international rentals
- The lowest prior deposit amount (probably may differ depending on the rental company);
- All obligatory standard insurances are already included in the price;
- The best conditions for franchise insurance (full coverage);
- Most often unlimited mileage for the car;
- The cars are always in excellent technical condition, usually practically new (only 1-2 years in operation at max);
- Free car pick-up at the airport or at any other car rental office;
The disadvantages of using international rental
- With international car rental companies, you book not a specific car, but a car class;
- All international car rental companies have quite high deposits for the car, averaging at about 3500 dirhams for a mid-range car;
- The deposit can only be blocked on a credit card in the name of the driver, and the cash for deposit is not accepted.
- There is no car delivery to the hotel.
Local rental companies
Thus, if you want to alleviate some of these disadvantages, you can use local rentals like TLT Limo Service
The prices of the car rentals in Dubai
Indeed, the prices depend on the car class. For a mid-rangey compact car, like, for example, Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic, you can expect to pay the equivalent of $25 USD per day, including insurance and other local taxes. A small lifehack – the longer period you book the car for, the lower price per day. Therefore, it is often more rational to take a car for the whole duration of the stay.
Dubai rental car insurance
There are 3 main types of insurance protection:
- Collision damage waiver (CDW): (Includes Tax); Excess 750 AED
- Theft waiver (TW): (Includes Tax); Excess 750 AED
- Third party liability protection (TP): (Includes Tax)
CDW is car insurance with a franchise. The one who rents a car is only responsible for the amount of the deductible, everything else is paid by the insurance company. CDW insurance is quite enough, however, if you do not have much driving experience or feel insecure, then you can insure additionally when booking or receiving a car, or separately.
Main things to keep in mind when renting a car in Dubai
As you may have guessed, the Gulf country which is one of the largest exporters of oil does not have any problems with car fuel. So, the gasoline is incredibly cheap, and people often simply do not turn off the car engines when having several minutes stops.
Most of the hotels offer free parking for the guests. In some of them, you park the car yourself, and in some the valet will park the car himself – this system is called “Valet parking”. There are also a lot of convenient free parking lots in Dubai itself (in shopping centers, near beaches, etc.) – so you can realistically spend nothing or very little on parking for the entire vacation.
A substitute for excursions
There are many interesting places in the Emirates that any tourist must visit; however, the prices for group tours are pretty high, while their quality is not always at a high level. This is where car rentals come to rescue. Not only will they make your sightseeing trip way more convenient, you will also save quite a lot of money – renting a car is cheaper than buying tours here.
Driving in Dubai
What does it feel like to drive in Dubai?
The roads in Dubai
For the most part, the drivers in the UAE are nice, and there are almost no chaotic elements in the traffic; however, in recent years a lot of immigrants from other countries of the Middle East have come to the Emirates, somewhat complicating the traffic.
The roads themselves, however, are nothing but of excellent quality. The country and city infrastructure are designed specifically for car drivers, so driving in the UAE is pleasant and absolutely safe – the cars are an absolute priority (though, admittedly, it is much harder for the pedestrians).
Furthermore, the UAE are often ranked among the top countries in terms of road infrastructure and development in the Global Competitiveness Report. So, there are the best roads in the world here – every driver should try them, since it is simply a great pleasure to drive on these roads. You can often find yourself on the large avenues and highways 6-8 lanes wide in each direction!
Common driving rules and fines
The speed measure used in the UAE is km/h. In Dubai, speeding for less than 20 km/h is not punished, and many locals speed just 19 km/h over. However, be careful when traveling to Abu Dhabi, because in this Emirate the driver is fined even if he exceeds the speed limit just by 1 km/h.
The speed limit on highways is 100-140 km/h, depending on the emirate, in populated areas – 60 km/h. The speed limit signs are practically everywhere, so it’s very easy not to break the traffic laws. Keep in mind that it is forbidden to drive at a speed less than 60 km/h on the highways, and can result in a corresponding fine. Also, the leftmost lane is the fastest, and should not be occupied without necessity.
Those fines can really bite into your wallet. The fine for exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 km/h is 300 dirhams ($85), by 20 km/h – 600 dirhams ($165). There are a lot of cameras, so do not tempt fate and do not overspeed.
In Dubai there is a rule that forces drivers to let the driver on the left pass at the unregulated intersection. In practice however, there are practically no unregulated intersections, and most of them are roundabouts. While entering the roundabout, the driver must let anyone already at a roundabout pass.
The heavy fine for DUI
Bear in mind that for DUI you will be in the best case deported from the country, and in some cases a real prison term is possible.
What to do in case of a car accident?
In the event of a traffic accident, you must immediately contact the rental office, and they in turn will help you contact the local police. The police officers usually arrive quickly (within 10-15 minutes) and solve everything on the spot. The culprit of the accident receives a red paper, the one who is a victim – a green one. With a green paper, you return the car to the rental and pay nothing
With a red paper, however, you will have to part with the deductible amount (unless, of course, you paid additional insurance). Also, if the insurance does not cover the amount of damage, you will have to pay even more – so it’s cheaper to drive safely and follow the rules.