By | 16th January 2018

Should you rent a car in Dubai?

Do you need a car in Dubai > Should you rent a car in Dubai UAE > Dubai ( DXB ) Do you need a car in Dubai? Is it worth hiring a car in Dubai? Should you rent a car in Dubai?

Dubai Car hire summary

Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all cost and quality factors. [Full notes - drive rating]


  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Dubai but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
  • Cost factors include - price of car hire (peak and off peak season), car hire extras, fuel, tolls and parking costs.
  • Quality factors include - scenic drives, road quality and upkeep, general safety and congestion levels.
  • A complete index of all 10 factors will be uploaded shortly.

Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]



  • This is the very lowest price we could find for a one week car rental period in Dubai during the quiet season.
  • You will almost always end up paying more than this figure, but any extra costs or supplementary charges are usually determined by the renter, so we cannot easily compare like with like.
  • In many cases, rental companies will offer a cheap rental and then expect you to take out expensive insurance waivers. There are always ways to avoid this!

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]



  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "why not" section for more suggestions.
  • For most featured destinations, the peak season will be during the summer, typically July and August for northern hemisphere destinations. However, peak demand might occur at different times, for example in some ski resorts or winter sun destinations etc.

Free parking score

Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking. Total 718 - of which 507 have free parking. [full notes - parking]



  • Free hotel parking is very useful to have when you are hiring a car, and it's always worth checking ahead beforehand.
  • If free hotel parking is not available, you might want to consider renting a car for a single day, rather than for your whole trip.
  • The availability (or lack of) free hotel parking can be a really important factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Dubai, as it can be a significant extra daily cost which you won't usually be paying at home!
  • Parking costs play a very major part in our consideration of whether or not it's worth hiring a car in each destination.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

Dubai public transport quick facts

Train score

Higher scores go to the systems which don't just take you to the most amazing places, but also to the ones which are easy to use, fast, reliable and frequent. A good train system on its own is usually enough to determine that you don't need to hire a car in many destinations.


  • [full notes trains]
  • Trains include all kinds of urban rail system from trams up to metro and suburban networks.
  • Trains also include mountain railways and cable cars.
  • Generally, places with a good rail network will automatically mean that you don't "need" to hire a car, but you can still might find that on balance you are better off by having one.

Water travel score

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Dubai


  • [full notes - water score]
  • The water score looks at means of transport on water - it does not consider water based activities like surfing or kayaking.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel, and also including ferries and other boat services, where they are part of the public transport network.


  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Dubai good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?
  • Even if public transport is cheap and reliable, you might still feel that you should hire a car in Dubai because it will still give you more flexibility to reach out-of-the-way places, especially in rural areas.

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Dubai. It includes factors such as the quality of the street environment, and whether you are likely to feel safe walking or cycling, together with the availability of bicycle hire and the ease of linking walking or cycling routes with public transport.


  • [full notes - active score] walking (city) | hiking | cycling (city /  country).
  • A high active travel score means that you might not need a car in Dubai, because you can see everything you need to see using a combination of your own two feet and the public transport system.

Car rental in - Dubai Need v worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Dubai", "is it worth hiring a car in Dubai", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme. Here we break each one down according to the criteria we use for each question. This is a weighted score based on the values above. These are explained further in the text which follows - [#why] [#whynot]. Do you need a car in Dubai?

Do you need a car in Dubai?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city. For the lowest "need" score, the destination should have a combination of excellent all-round public transport, great opportunities for walking and cycling, together with poor value car hire or generally poor quality roads. 
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "do I need a car in  Dubai " will swing towards a strong no, because you can do absolutely fine without one).
Is it worth hiring a car in Dubai?

Is it worth hiring a car in Dubai?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares? This question mainly looks at issues of cost and practicality.
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "is it worth hiring a car in  Dubai" will swing towards whichever option offers the lowest overall cost for a group of 2-4 people travelling together.
Should you rent a car in Dubai?

Should you rent a car in Dubai?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
  • The final "carometer" swing is much more opinion based, and it takes into account which options will give you the truly best travel experience (n our humble opinion of course). Where a destination offers an excellent score with or without a car, the swing will go towards whichever option we feel gives the most truly unforgettable experience.
  • Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not you rent a car here. We're trying to give you something that's sufficiently far enough away from a "maybe" to help you make that choice. Ultimately, people only come to us because they are uncertain, but we don't really know what each person's preferences are. Whether we say you should or you shouldn't rent a car in  Dubai, you might also want to look up some of our other cities to see how  Dubai compares with other destinations in  UAE or  Asia.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

What does everyone else do?

Do most people hire a car in Dubai?

This is based on our observations of (a) car rental facilities and (b) what we think most people will do here. It's not an exact figure, just an estimate of how likely people are to get hold of a rental car here.
  • his is based on the percentage of people "in the market" who we think are likely to hire a car. This includes anyone arriving on holiday here who would usually hire a car on their travels, so it doesn't include people who don't usually drive (or don't drive), people staying with friends etc.


Visitors per year (million)

  • Cities with more visitors are more likely to have more complex airport car rental arrangements, and generally they will also have better public transport, but this is not always the case, especially in North America.


  • [full notes - do as everyone else does?]
  • You may wish to go with the flow, or you might prefer to avoid doing the most popular or obvious option. This will vary according to the range of choice available. This tends to be much higher in destinations which are closer to the middle of the car or no car scale.

Who is travelling?

Your group size and travel budget has a major impact on whether or not getting a rental car is good value compared to using public transport as your main means of getting around. Ultimately, these are all "worth" questions:

Is it worth renting a car in Dubai if I am a solo / budget traveller?

Generally, hiring a car is not good value for solo travellers for multiple reasons, especially as most of the costs of renting apply to the car, not the occupants. With public transport, the reverse is usually true! However, there are always some places where you will need a car, simply because they are almost impossible to reach using public transport.

Is it worth renting a car in Dubai for 2 people travelling together?

A rental car can be good value for couples or for friends travelling together, but since most cars come with at least four seats, it's often still better value to use public transport. However, if you prefer to keep yourselves to yourselves, then you might still want to rent.

Is it worth renting a car in Dubai for families?

Families of groups of 3-4 people travelling together will always get the best value from a rental car. However, you may also be burdened with extra costs for car seat hire, and you well also prefer to use local trains and buses, if they are quicker than getting stuck in heavy traffic.

Where are you staying?

The place you are staying, together with the sort of places you want to see, will have a large impact on whether or not you "need" to rent a car:

Do you need a car in Dubai if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

Most large towns or purpose built holiday resorts will have some kind of public transport, whereas parking provision will vary greatly from one place to the next. 

Do you need a car in Dubai if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

Typically you may be staying in an apartment or hmall house on the edge of a resort or urban area. These places usually have some level of public transport, but not as much as city / resort centres.

Do you need a car in Dubai if we are staying in a rural area?

Rural proprties might include larger villas or apartments, but they can still be within a short walk of a bus stop or local railway station, and the opportunities for hiking and cycling might also be substantial, depending on the destination.

What is your attitude towards driving?

We can give you suggestions based on whatever we consider to be a "typical" visitor to Dubai, but ultimately your decision is also going to be influenced by whether or not you ususally prefer to hire a car in the first place.

Should I hire a car in Dubai if I prefer not to drive?

This is especially the case when there is only one main driver in the group, and it's based on the attitude of the driver rather than their passengers! The main driver may also simply prefer to use public transport, or they may prefer to take scenic train journeys where available.

Should we rent a car in Dubai if we are easy either way?

This is more aimed at the typical visitor who isn't that bothered about how they get around, as long as it is the most convenient / best value option.

Should I rent a car in Dubai if I prefer to drive?

For people who usually prefer the freedom and flexibility of having a hire car. Is it still best to rent a car in Dubai, or are there good reasons not to?

Do you need a car in Dubai? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Dubai?", this often breaks down to two key questions:
  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Dubai? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?
Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Dubai as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Dubai?
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Before you hire a car in Dubai, we would like to sound a note of warning. The UAE has a reputation for having some of the most dangerous roads in the world, and this is not entirely undeserved. If you want the statistics, then the UAE is the most dangerous country in the world to be in a car on a per mile basis, but it only takes this accolade, because it’s the worst place that actually publishes such statistics.

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a fatal accident, you will be unlikely to be allowed out of the country, and you may have to pay “diya”, a blood money payment, which may not be covered by your insurance.

There are plenty of other countries out there with far more dangerous roads, but then again, you probably won’t end up holidaying there. Why would we want to start on such a macabre point?

Usually our city by city car hire advice would look at other factors such as the cost of the car hire itself, the availability of good quality public transport, and then maybe the choice of different driving roads or even the cost of fuel and so on, with safety being a general issue, rather than one which warrants specific comment from one city to the next.

In the UAE, we think that any decision about whether or not to get a hire car should be made primarily on safety, so that’s why it’s mentioned first Understandably, if we’re offering advice saying that the roads in the UAE are fraught with danger, then that same advice is going to apply if you prefer just to go everywhere by taxi, and even through there are a handful of token coast front cycle lanes, you cycle here entirely at your own risk!

Why should you rent a car in Dubai?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip? In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Dubai?

Why should you hire a car in Dubai?

  • We don’t particularly advise getting a rental car in Dubai for the reasons above, and because you can get around using other means.

  • Getting a Dubai hire car to drive to other emirates, or to more rural locations away from the city itself may still make some sense (See Abu Dhabi, Sharjah).
  • Some travellers also hire a car in Dubai and then drive it into neighbouring Oman. Check fully before doing this, as insurance conditions appear to change regularly, and different operators have different policies.

Why not? Visiting Dubai without a car

What is public transport like in Dubai? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in 2?
  • Based on safety alone, our advice would very much be to use public transport (not taxis) as much as you possibly can.
  • Dubai has rapidly built and extended its own metro system, which works in tandem with a monorail on the Dubai palms and a tram service around the Burj Khalifa.
  • The Dubai palms Monorail is a major point of interest in its own right!
  • Whilst the public transport system is perfectly adequate for getting to and from all of the major tourist sites within Dubai, chances are that you still want to go to some places that can’t be reached through using public transport, in which case going by taxi becomes the default option.
  • Taking a taxi in Dubai rather than driving yourself is still largely a matter of trust, but you are at least ensuring that the liability is the problem of the driver, and not you.

Beyond Dubai

Not all of the glitzy attractions that you will see in any media promoting the UAE will be found in Dubai – many of them will be found in neighbouring Abu Dhabi instead, and Abu Dhabi is absolutely worth at the very least a day trip.

Yet it’s easy enough to visit Abu Dhabi using scheduled bus services or organised coach tours – there’s really no particular reason to hire a car just to do this for one day (see above).

James says - a few trip notes:

It’s an important enough concern that anybody who spends any time at here will give you their tales of woe of somebody they know who’s had a bad accident.

On the other hand, if you are only visiting Dubai for a few short days, then you might prefer just to hope that the risk dice aren’t going to be loaded against you during the short of your visit – after all, every form of travel involves risk, it’s just that the risks of car travel are much greater here than anywhere else.

Sure, you will no doubt read of horror stories of Dubai bus drivers, but in reality, they are the ones driving the biggest tank, and as with anywhere else, they are at least trained a little bit more to drive that tank than any other kind of drivers.

“But other places are more dangerous”

Sure! There are numerous other travel destinations where the roads are much more dangerous than they are in the UAE. However, none of these other destinations have anything like the same level of visitor numbers, and hence there is a natural focus on road safety in Dubai, simply because it is very much in the spotlight.

I’ve only been to Dubai once myself, and in all honesty it’s hardly a fair comparison with what the city is now. I was in transit through the city in 1991, when I was just 16, so needless to say, driving wasn’t an option. Would I want to drive in Dubai now? Well fairly unsurprisingly, I really wouldn’t, but what about getting to the most important places of interest, both within the city itself and nearby? Would you really be missing out on that much if you visited Dubai without a car?


Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.


What is our final score for Dubai on the Carornocar scale?

Remember, this isn't so much a rating of the road network, or a score for what we think of the buses or trains, but it's simply a scale showing the swing between whether or not we think a rental car is a good idea here.


Should you rent a car in Dubai?  No!

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Category: UAE

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