Living and Driving in Dubai

Living in Dubai means you will need transportation, and if you are one who prefers to be in charge of your own movements, there are a few things you should know about driving around the emirate.

Getting a License

If you have a current license from your home country and it is one of the 36 recognized by the UAE, getting your license will be a matter of providing identification documentation, eye exam and your current license. However, if your license is 2 years old or older, you could be required to take up to 48 driving classes.

Other requirements:

  • Must be 21 years old
  • Take theory test (if required)
  • Take road test (if required)
  • Pay associated fees

Getting a Vehicle

There is some debate about the affordability of owning your own car or truck in the UAE. As a general rule, vehicles are cheaper in Dubai than they are in many parts of the world but they are comparable to US prices. What many people feel is expensive in this endeavor is the cost of obtaining a license and maintaining your vehicle.

One reason prices on cars is much better than other areas is the lack of tax and low interest rate loans. Companies who locate in free trade zones are also benefiting from no tax liability so they are able to offer better financing options. For example, one company offers a guaranteed buy back for 2 years after your purchase date, and many loans are coming in at a paltry 2.5%. For those coming from areas in the US where interest rates can be up to 22%, this is a massive difference.

Obey the Law

This is one aspect of car ownership that cannot be stressed enough. Dubai is a welcoming country but they are serious about all their laws, and traffic violations are no exception. If you are caught driving under the influence, for example, your vehicle will be towed, you can be fined nearly $9,000 and your license will be revoked.

Top laws to be aware of:

  • Running a Red light- this is a particularly serious offense in Dubai (compared with the US). Fines are around $200 and your car will be impounded for 15 days
  • Driving on hard shoulder- this area is designated for emergencies, and in particular, emergency vehicles. If you pass or park on the shoulder, you can look forward to a hefty fine and possibly jail time. (prison sentences have been approved for the offense but none have been handed out yet.)
  • Good Repair- your vehicle must be inspected if it is over 3 years old/ Even after inspection, you are expected to maintain good repair or face having your vehicle confiscated.

Conclusion

Dubai draws more people every year, some to visit but many want to stay and enjoy the benefits the city has to offer. If you have decided to make your home here and want to drive a car, it is important you understand the traffic laws and consider the pros/ cons carefully.