Should I hire a car in Dubai?
Do I need a car in Dubai? Introduction
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 rent 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
- Based on safety alone, our advice would very much be to use public transport 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.
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?