Below you will find out about the rules of the road in the UAE and how to enjoy a trouble-free driving experience.
With a distinct absence of rail networks in the UAE, driving is the easiest way to get to know the UAE. An excellent road network spans the Emirates and driving is not usually a hazardous experience.
However, take care, as driving in the UAE is extremely fast and many drivers take the law into their own hands, accounting for the fact that the UAE actually has the third highest death rate through traffic accidents in the world. Tinted windows - widespread but officially forbidden over 30% - are commonplace amongst the most reckless of drivers, so try to avoid them.
In Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah, taxis are widely available and relatively cheap (approx. USD2 in Abu Dhabi city), and charges are based on the distance traveled. A night surcharge of US$3 may be added for journeys taken after 10pm, but this will depend upon your driver.
An International Driver's Permit (IDP) carried in conjunction with your national driving license is necessary for driving in the UAE. If you are from a Western country and a resident of the UAE, you’ll need to obtain a local driver’s license – a simple process that takes about 20 minutes at the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, Asians and some other nationalities will need to undergo 40 driving lesson classes, followed by an exam.
You will need to keep your documentation with you at all times when driving as the police will expect to see it if they stop you. It is advisable to offer them the IDP first, as the police may need to keep it, leaving you with your national driving license in order to continue your journey.
All vehicles drive on the right hand side of the road.
Seatbelts, as in most advanced countries, are mandatory.
The UAE has a zero tolerance attitude towards drink/driving and the blood alcohol allowance is 0%. If you are caught drinking and driving, you could be sent directly to jail. Therefore taxis, which are widely available, are a far better option if you are drinking.
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