I will explain everything in this article and will also give you some tips on how to rent a car in Dubai.
If you come to visit the city only for a few days, renting a car in Dubai will not necessarily be interesting. Dubai is a city that can be easily explored by subway and cab. However, renting a car can be a good option if you would prefer to move around more freely and whenever you want.
Which is why I strongly recommend renting a car if you're planning on staying for a week or more.
No more subway or cab, you'll be free to do whatever you want! You can go beyond the skyscrapers of Sheikh Zayed Road, head to the desert, or even drive to Abu Dhabi.
So, if you're looking for an adventure, I've put together below the essential information you need to know about car rental in Dubai. All you have to do is plan your vacation and pack your bags - destination: the emirate of excess! 😊
WHY RENT A CAR IN DUBAI?
Although the subway and cab can take you anywhere in Dubai, renting a car can be more cost-effective. Especially if you are staying in Dubai for several days!
Renting a car in Dubai will also be the most convenient and comfortable way to get around the city.
Indeed, the distances are rather long: about twenty kilometers between the north and the south of Dubai. Driving will allow you to have total autonomy and to not depend on public transport (you will not waste time!).
You will be able to leave whenever and wherever you want. For example, you can go out of the city, and even discover the surroundings if the mood strikes you. Why not take a trip to the desert?
Or even travel to Abu Dhabi, which is only 160 km away!
Last but not least, renting is a good choice if you're going with your family, i.e. with children. It will be much easier to put everyone in the car than to travel by subway or cab. Even more so if you choose to pick up your car at the Dubai Airport, as soon as you get off the plane.You can then put all your luggage in the trunk and start your vacation right away! 😉
WHAT TYPE OF CAR TO RENT IN DUBAI?
Should you take a 4x4 or will a simple city car be enough? I personally recommend opting for a classic city car for your car rental in Dubai.
The roads in the emirate are in excellent condition and if you want to see the desert and the dunes, it's best to go on a 4x4 tour in the desert. The drivers are professionals, because driving in the sand is not as easy as it looks! You need to be flexible and above all, you will have to deflate your tires beforehand.
All the while knowing that you won't necessarily be able to inflate them again directly after your little escapade in the desert...
HOW TO RENT A CAR AT THE BEST PRICE
You will find many car rental agencies in Dubai.
The biggest brands are present: Rentacar, Avis, Hertz, Budget, Sixt, Dollar, or Europcar.
You can pick up your rental car either directly at the airport (in an underground parking lot located in front of it) or in one of the agencies located in the city.
For my part, I rent a car whenever I go to Dubai, and this has been the case for several years now.
I choose a small city car like the Toyota Yaris or Toyota Corolla. They have 4 or 5 seats and that's more than enough for me to move around freely and visit Abu Dhabi, a city I particularly like.
Prices vary from one agency to another: in order to find the best price, make a comparison of offers before leaving for the emirate.
I recommend going on the RentalCars platform. You simply have to enter your departure date in Dubai and your return date to discover the prices proposed by the rental agencies in Dubai.
To help you a bit more, you will find below a comparative table of the prices that can be found for a small car rental in Dubai.
Simulation for a car rental for 7 days with a pick up at Dubai airport (DXB):
Type of vehicle
Stay in Low season (08/13/22 to 08/20/2022)
Stay in Peak season (02/15/22 au 02/22/2022)
Ex: Kia Picanto
Ex: Toyota Yaris
Ex: Hyundai Creta
Ex: Ford Taurus
Ex: Nissan Maxima
Don't hesitate to book through the RentalCars platform, as the site offers the most advantageous rates as well as numerous benefits:
- The payment on the site is secure, and you will avoid the fees related to the payment in foreign currency;
- You will be able to cancel or modify your reservation free of charge up to 48 hours before your trip;
- You will be protected against theft;
- You will benefit from a partial coverage in case of collision;
- The rental includes unlimited mileage.
The proposed rates are almost always cheaper than those offered directly by rental agencies.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT DRIVING IN DUBAI
If you've decided to rent a car, rest assured: it's very easy to drive in Dubai.Here I'll explain everything about driving in the emirate, as well as the necessary documents in order to drive with peace of mind 🙂
WHAT DRIVER'S LICENSE DO YOU NEED?
If you wish to rent a car in Dubai, you will need to present an International Driving Permit (IDP) as well as your American driver’s license. This license must be valid, i.e. its validity date cannot exceed the validity date of your domestic driver’s license.
The International Driving Permit is the translation of your American driver’s license. It must be requested before your departure.
I advise you to make the request at least 1 month before your departure. Know that they cannot be issued more than 6 months in advance of your desired effective date.
The process is easy. You must first go to the website of your national automobile association - the American Automobile Association (AAA) only though; the other association, American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA), having stopped issuing IDPs.
Once there, you will need to download and fill out your application, before bringing it to the nearest AAA branch office (due to the Covid situation, remember to check beforehand whether that branch will be open or not. It can easily be done by calling it before going).
You will need to bring two original passport pictures, as well as a valid U.S. driver's license. Then you’ll only have to pay the permit fee ($20) and you'll be good to go!
Alternatively, you can also obtain your IDP through the mail. You need only enclose your completed IDP application form, two original passport pictures each signed on the back, the $20 permit fee as well as a photocopy of both sides of your driver's license, before mailing it all to the AAA office nearest you (check locally for payment options). You can even include additional funds for expedited return mail service if you so desire (see the different mailing companies for rates).
Your international permit is valid for 3 years (renewable), - except if your domestic driver’s license expires before that, of course.
Remember to always carry your American driver’s license with you.
Driving in Dubai is rather simple and easy: the roads are very well laid out, and the signs are numerous and easy to follow. The Driver's Manual is generally well respected. However, there is a small downside: some people drive a little too fast...
And then there are the traffic jams! During your stay in Dubai, you will inevitably be confronted with traffic jams, because there are a lot of them. If you can, avoid the rush hours - namely between 7am and 10am in the morning, and between 5pm and 8pm in the evening.
Also note that Dubai is a city in constant evolution. There is construction everywhere in the city, so be careful of blocked roads and changes in traffic flow.
A little plus: the rental cars are air-conditioned, which is quite pleasant for visiting the emirate! Moreover, the vast majority of them have an automatic gearbox.
PARKING IN DUBAI
Parking in Dubai is easy: there are plenty of parking spaces.
Note however that some parking lots are free while others are not, so be sure to find out where you can park beforehand.
If you plan to rent a car for the duration of your stay in Dubai, don't forget to ask about your hotel's parking. Make sure that parking there is free!
BEWARE OF TOLLS!
Some roads in Dubai are toll roads, but you won't really notice them. Indeed, you won't have to stop and pay at a toll booth. Only signs will tell you that you are about to pass through a toll zone, known as a salik gate (Dubai's toll system being called "Salik"). Each passage is charged 4 AED, or about $1.09 (€0.97).
Rental cars have a special box with a chip that registers the tolls, and your credit card will be charged automatically. As such, if you see the word “fees” on your bill, don't worry, it's perfectly normal!
And that's it for car rental in Dubai. I hope I was able to enlighten you on the subject!