Asia > United Arab Emirates > Dubai
See: Why rent a car in Dubai ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments
(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring)
Your key questions for any destination:
Do I need a car in Dubai?
Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest.
That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than just yes or no answers!
- The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
- How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
- Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
- Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?
Is it worth hiring a car in Dubai?
This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Dubai car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.
How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Dubai with other destinations locally and around the world.
This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.
Should I rent a car in Dubai?
This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Dubai, but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.
Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2022 (northern hemisphere) tourist season.
We do not intent to include detailed covid information, nor do we intend to suggest hiring a car, just because public transport might still have a mask requirement. Our advice will be based on the same criteria we've always used, ie whether or not you can get a better travel experience, or at least a better value one, by choosing not to hire a car.
Dubai is in car rental price band: 4/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)
General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Dubai?
Sometimes. Car rental is slightly cheaper than global averages.
Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Dubai between the peak and the off peak season?
5/10 (0 = stable prices)
Driving score: 1/10
Non car score:6/10
(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)
General comment -
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? Visiting Dubai using a hire car
Why do you need a car in Dubai ?
Why should you hire a car in Dubai?
Why not? Visiting Dubai without a car
Why don't you need a car in 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).
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?
Ratings: How does Dubai compare?
Is it worth hiring a car in Dubai? TBC
This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Dubai, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.
How does this compare if:
You are travelling:
Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc
Does car rental make sense on different budgets?
Do you need to hire a car in Dubai? TBC
This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Dubai (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".
Should you rent a car in Dubai? TBC
This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good.
See global comparisons
Hiring | Driving | Parking
Trains | Buses | Local travel
Car hire basics:
Public transportation basics:
Regular bus services: YES
Coach (inter-city): YES
High Speed Rail:
Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):
As you start ....
Does Dubai airport have a direct rail link?
(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No
Has our advice for Dubai car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?
2017 - 2
2019 - 4
2021 - 2
Average score - 3
Should you rent a car in Dubai? No!
Do you or don't you need a car in Dubai ?