Dubai: Getting from A to B - driving
Fifty years ago Dubai had fewer than fifty cars. Today there are more than 1 million. The roads are clogged with minibuses, taxis, supercars and 4x4s making the driving experience a test of nerves and patience. There are more than 17,000 taxis in Dubai.
The best way to approach your journey is as calmly as possible, which is sometimes easier said than done. Although the driving rules laid out by the RTA are broadly based on the British regulations, they are frequently ignored. Some drivers can be erratic so give people room and keep your distance, but be aware an opportunistic driver will try and jump into the gap you’ve created.
Don’t be tempted to speed up because the car behind you is stuck to your bumper. Speed cameras are a common sight on Dubai’s road, and the penalties can be costly. Using you mobile phone without a hands free kit could also land you with a fine.
Car seats - Unfortunately, car seats are not compulsory in Dubai but there is a growing awareness that they should be used, thanks to safety initiatives such as Buckle Up In the Back Dubai. Don’t be surprised if you drive down the Sheikh Zayed Road and spot a child standing on the seat with his head out of the sun roof.
Road tolls - To drive along the Sheikh Zayed Road you will need a Salik card, which is an automatic toll payment system that attaches to your dashboard (Salik means open or clear in Arabic). You can buy them directly through the Road Transport Authority (RTA) or from petrol stations. There are no toll booths, no toll collectors, and no impact to traffic flow, allowing vehicles to move freely through the tolls at highway speeds. Each time you pass through a Salik gate, a small fee is deducted from your prepaid toll account using advanced Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. There are currently four Salik toll gates. They are located on Al Maktoum Bridge, Al Garhoud bridge and two on Sheikh Zayed Road in the Al Barsha and Al Safa areas. Salik can be recharged by purchasing recharge vouchers from petrol stations or the RTA. You can also top up your Salik account online (www.salik.ae).
The RTA website also offers information on public transport (metro, taxis, buses and boats), parking and traffic offences. Traffic fines are linked to your number plate and need to be paid before you can renew your annual registration. Be aware that speed cameras are operational on most major highways.
You could face a fine if you crash your car into a palm tree or park on a pavement. If you drive without your glasses or contact lenses you could be fined Dhs 100. If you are caught racing and driving dangerously you could be fined Dhs 2,000.
To stay posted either join our Explorers' Club to receive email notifications or follow us on Facebook. Good luck with your new adventure! We'd love to hear how you are getting on.
Need a break?
There is nothing like a bit of exploring to help you feel settled. If you've just moved to the UAE and Oman you might like to give these trips a go. Just click here:
Trips around the UAE and Oman
Help! I've crashed
In the event of an accident...
· Call the police on 999 and report the accident. If someone is injured, you can also call request an ambulance on the same number.
· If the accident is minor, move your vehicle to a safe place close to the accident.
· If the accident is major, do not move your vehicle until the police arrive, but be aware of obstructing traffic.
· Take pictures of the position of all the cars involved and the damage to your vehicle before you move it, if you think this would help the police to resolve the matter more easily.
· Usually the accident is resolved on the spot or at the nearest police station, although the process does take a couple of hours. You will need your driving licence and registration card. It is an offence not to carry these with you.
· The driver who is considered at fault will receive a pink copy of the police report while the other party or parties will get their reports on green sheets.
· Be aware that the police reports are in Arabic so you may wish to get it translated if you would like to understand what has been written.
· Notify your insurance company.
· If your car is in a drivable condition, your insurer will advise you where to take your car for repair.
· If your car is not in a drivable condition, depending on your insurance coverage, it will be towed to a repair centre or to your home.
· The police accident report form should be given to the repair centre to enable them to repair the car.
· Remember to have your driving licence, registration card and police accident report form available.