Driving in the UAE

While in Abu Dhabi, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a day trip over to Dubai. Getting from Abu Dhabi to Dubai and back was less convenient than one would image, with limited transfer options available. A cab had a set rate of $70 USD each way ($140 USD in total) and there didn’t seem to be any sort of express shuttle service or anything of this nature available. The most logical and cheapest way to do this was to rent a car.

RENTING A CAR IN THE UAE

We rented a four-door, Peugeot sedan from Europcar at the Abu Dhabi International Airport – after obtaining quotes from all the airport rental providers, they were the cheapest. When making the reservation online, it actually worked out much cheaper to get a quote and book online in AED instead of switching to USD.

{Leave this set to UAE to obtain rates in AED}

Driving in the UAE

{Rates displayed in AED: AED 387 = $105 USD (without add-ons)}

Driving in the UAE

{The exact same option when I select USD = $156.24}

Driving in the UAE

That’s an instant saving of ~$50 USD for paying in AED instead of USD! I also used a credit card with no foreign transaction fees to pay upfront online, so we were able to lock in that cheaper, AED rate. A simple Google search of your credit card will let you know if it charges a 3%+ foreign transaction fee on all international purchases, or if it offers no fee.

If you are a tourist, there is no need for an International drivers licence. You just need a valid drivers licence matching the same country that your passport has been issued from. I hold both an Australian and U.S. drivers licence, but only an Australian passport, so that was the licence I had to use for this rental agreement.

The cost of the car was insanely cheap, I think for a five-day rental, plus a Garmin GPS and the add on of an additional driver, it was $170 USD total. We only had to fill up our gas tank once, and gas is basically free there, so all-in-all, renting worked in our favor, especially considering the fact that it would have cost $140 USD round trip alone in cab fares just to get to Dubai and back from Abu Dhabi.

DRIVING IN THE UAE

This is what I was most nervous about. I have lived in both Australia and the USA, so I’ve learned to drive on both sides of the car and on both sides of the road, but after having spoken to some friends that had been to Dubai and Abu Dhabi before, they had warned me of the horrors of driving there. Couple this with the fact that I get anxious easily when I am driving in unfamiliar territory, and that any minor road-related incident in the UAE can land you in prison, and I was feeling pretty tense about what I had got myself into.

All in all though, driving in the UAE is no different to driving on the tourist-infested roads by Walt Disney World – master that and you can confidently drive the streets of Abu Dhabi and Dubai like a pro!

Main takeaways from my five days driving there:

– there are many impatient drivers on the roads
– many of them don’t believe in giving way or indicating
– while there are speed limits, they don’t seem to be enforced
– they drive very fast

Despite the above bullet points, because any minor car incident can land you in prison, the drivers there are still very careful to avoid any sort of accident or collision at all costs.

This was my first time renting a car in a foreign country, I usually depend heavily on public transport, cabs, day tours, and my own two feet. I must say though, I absolutely loved the freedom of being able to go where I wanted, when I wanted and to leave whenever I wished. I will definitely be doing this more often throughout my travels in the future!

Driving in the UAE
Driving in the UAE

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