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Should I hire a car in Dubai? - Rent a car in United Arab Emirates

Economy car hire from Dubai Airport - compare offers online

Dubai is an increasingly popular destination in the Middle East for both holidaymakers and people looking for business or work opportunities.

Being the largest city of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is also one of the most ‘international’ locations of the Middle East. The cosmopolitan character of the city of Dubai, UAE reflects in a variety of services available, amongst them car hire, offered by renowned rent-a-car companies.

As the road network in the affluent Dubai emirate is constantly improving and prices of car rental remain at remarkably low compared to general price level in the Emirates, hiring a car is becoming an increasingly more convenient and accessible solution for transportation for many westerners visiting Dubai.

Ferrari FF - Dubai supercar hire

Sky is the limit for luxury/supercar hire in Dubai - Ferrari FF

Should I hire a car in Dubai?
Although taxi services are cheap and reliable in Dubai, car hire is by far the most cost effective solution during longer stays in the city and when travelling on long distances in United Arab Emirates.

For many visitors to UEA, the very affordable cost of rent-a-car services, as well as some of the world’s cheapest rates on petrol, are the ultimate argument in favour of car hire in Dubai.

On the downside, Dubai is known for rather hectic traffic in the city centre and a high rate of road accidents. Westerners will frequently find there is little road courtesy in Dubai traffic and speed limits are notoriously exceeded, especially by the owners of expensive, flashy sport cars.

In general, a great deal of attention is required especially when driving in Dubai city centre.

Taking time to study the map before heading of on a self-drive trip in Dubai is a way of avoiding unnecessary stress: most of the recent roads are, much like in the United States, wide, several-lane motorways with cloverleaf intersections and large roundabouts. If you don’t know exactly where you’re heading and you find yourself on a wrong road, it may take several kilometres until you can get off. Due to very intense roadworks across in Dubai, it may be sometimes difficult to rely on GPS navigations to help you find your way in the city traffic.

Toyota Camry - a popular hire car Dubai

A popular hire car in Dubai- Toyota Camry

Please note that UAE has zero tolerance for drink driving. Driving under the influence of alcohol, even in the smallest quantities, may result in imprisonment. Especially during Ramadan you should expect a very strict approach from Dubai road police, when it comes to drinking and driving.

By following the basic road safety rules, but also understanding local customs and traditions, you can drive in Dubai without major difficulty.

Watch the video below to hear expats' opinion about driving in Dubai:

Driving in Dubai - distances
The emirate of Dubai is the second largest, after Abu Dhabi, of the seven United Arab Emirates. Its capital, the city of Dubai is located on the southeastern coast of the Persian Gulf.

See map of United Arab Emirates.

Dubai city occupies a very vast area and is being constantly developed, both inland and along the coast. Still under construction, one of the future city’s attractions, the Dubai Waterfront is planned to stretch along over 70 km/43 mi of coastline. The man-made waterfront area will consist of multiple residential, commercial and recreational zones, a great part of them developed on artificial islands. 

Moving around Dubai city centre can be relatively easy and inexpensive using taxis or the city’s public transportation system, the latter limited to certain zones, however.

If you are planning to travel outside of Dubai city, however, you may have to rely on car hire. See below the approximate road distances between Dubai and other major cities of the United Arab Emirates:

  • distance Dubai - Abu Dhabi: 150 km/93 mi
  • distance Dubai - Sharjah: 12 km/7 mi
  • distance Dubai - Ras Al Khaimah: 100 km/62 mi
  • distance Dubai - Al Ain: 140 km/87 mi
  • distance Dubai - Ajman: 30 km/19 mi
  • distance Dubai - Um Al Quawain: 38 km/24 mi
  • distance Dubai - Fujairah: 120 km/75 mi
  • distance Dubai - Khor Fakkan: 145 km/90 mi

 Amongst major roads in Dubai emirate are:

  • E11 motorway stretching along the coast of the Gulf from Al Silah in the Abu Dhabi emirate to Rhas Al Khaimah, near the border with the Oman enclave.
  • E311, parallel to E11 is a large six lane motorway designed to by-pass heavy traffic from the roads along the coast. E311 is an excellent location for new businesses in Dubai, due to easy access and availability of space.
  • When driving from Dubai to Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman coast, take S116 road or E44/Emirates Road to connect to Sharjah-Kalba Road, leading to the eastern UAE.

Cheap car hire Dubai - rent a better car for less money
The price of Dubai car hire is undoubtedly the nicest aspect of your car rental experience in the Emirates. While the level of prices in the ‘City of Gold’ as Dubai is frequently referred to, is very high, car rental usually represents a very small part of your holiday/business trip expenses.

The cheapest hire cars in Dubai can often be rented from approx. £80 for a week. For this price you will be offered a smallest city car, such as Kia Picanto, Peugeot 107 or similar. This type of vehicles, however is the least adequate driving in Dubai. Scorching heat, with temperatures of 30-40 degrees Celsius, or above, felt in Dubai for the most part of the year, requires an efficient air conditioning, both indoors and in your vehicle. And that is usually found in larger and better equipped cars.

Cheap car hire Dubai - Kia Picanto

Kia Picanto - cheap hire car in Dubai

See Dubai weather chart.

The additional 10 pounds on a car from a superior car rental group is money well spent in Dubai. The prices of a 7 days rental of the economy class Ford Fiesta, VW Polo, or similar in Dubai, will frequently start from approx. £90-95

The best deals in Dubai car hire, however, are found in superior rental classes.

If you feel encouraged by the accessibility of prices of Dubai rental cars and value travelling in comfort with a powerful air con and high-quality safety equipment, try a full-size Toyota Camry, Chevrolet Malibu, or similar, which in Dubai can be rented for a very competitive price of £150 for a week.

SUV and minvan car hire Dubai
Not all of the rental vehicles are cheap in Dubai. The prices of people carriers - minivans and minibuses for hire in Dubai are usually at the level of this type of vehicles in western Europe, if not more expensive.

The cheapest 7-seaters to rent in Dubai, frequently a Toyota Previa or similar, hardly ever cost less than £400 for a week of car hire in UAE. 

In the segment of SUV hire in Dubai, there is much more choice model- and price-wise. Since desert safaris are one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Emirates, you will be usually able to choose from a range of four wheel drive (4WD) vehicles to rent, amongst them Kia Sportage, Daihatsu Terios, Hyundai Tucson, Toyota Prado, Toyota Landcruiser, or Range Rover Sport, just to mention the most popular SUV for hire in Dubai.

The most accessible prices of SUV’s often start from around £240 for a week. Do not expect, though, much economy when renting the more powerful and prestigious models of SUV in Dubai.

Kia Sportage - cheap SUV hire car from Dubai Airport

Kia Sportage - cheap SUV for hire from Dubai Airport

On the other hand, the cost of fuel in Dubai is amongst the lowest in the world, so do not let the prospect of hiring a ‘gas-guzzler’ scare you.

Luxury car hire Dubai
In very few other destinations worldwide you will be able to find such a wide range of luxury hire cars as in the UAE.

The fleet of Dubai supercars for rent include such rarities as: Lamborghini Aventador, Ferrari 458 Italia, Ferrari FF, Maserati Grandturismo or McLaren MP-4.

Rent a luxury car in Dubai - compare prices online

The video below shows some of the favourite makes and models of luxury car to be seen on the streets of Dubai:

Car hire companies Dubai
In Dubai car hire is available from major rent-a-car brands, such as Dollar Rent A Car, Hertz, Europcar, Budget, Thrifty, Avis, National as well as local suppliers, amongst them Future Rent a Car, United Car rental, Tamara Rent a Car, Sanam Rent a Car, Patriot Rent a car, Saudi Al Wefaq and Diamond Autolease.

Best car rental deals Dubai - compare prices and rental conditions with Cartrawler
Internet search engines of car hire, such as Cartrawler make it very easy to find the most competitive offers of Dubai car hire.

By running a single search on Cartrawler you will be able to compare prices and rental conditions from many providers of car rental in Dubai Airport, as well as in Dubai city centre.

Each offer available on Cartrawler contains a thorough description of the rate details, including information about insurance coverage, excess, fuel policy, driving licence requirements etc.

Rent-a-car Dubai - car model guarantee
In most of the car rental companies worldwide it is not possible for the customer to book a particular model of a hire vehicle; the rent-a-car company usually reserves the right to hand over a vehicle within the rental class booked, with similar features, engine and equipment.

When booking a Dubai hire car through Cartrawler, however, you will frequently be able to find offers with ‘Car model guarantee’. This means you can be sure to receive at pick-up the model and make displayed on the offer.

Compare prices of Dubai car hire with Cartrawler


Should I hire a car in Dubai? - Rent a car in United Arab Emirates
Article: Should I hire a car in Dubai? - Rent a car in United Arab Emirates
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Published: Thursday, October 10 2013
Latest revision: Thursday, November 28 2013

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