Visiting the UAE: A tourists' guide to renting a car in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

A complete guide to hiring a vehicle when visiting the Emirates

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Tourists from some countries are allowed to use their driving licence issued at home to drive in the UAE.

This means you can either drive a friend's car or rent one after you complete some paperwork.

According to the Ministry of Interior, visitors from the GCC and certain countries do not need an international driving permit to drive in the Emirates.

Here, The National explains the process of renting a car in the Emirates as a tourist.

Where can you rent a car?

There are plenty of options to choose from. You will find all international car rental companies in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, some with kiosks at the airport.

You can hire a car on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

The price will vary depending on the car you rent, Abdullah Naeem who owns Al Barakah Car rental in Ajman told The National.

A small car, such as Toyota Yaris, will cost between Dh90 ($24.5) and Dh100 on a daily basis and about Dh560 if you hire it for a week.

A midsized car, such as Honda Accord or Toyota Fortuner, will cost between Dh130 and Dh150 for a day, while for a week it will cost about Dh900.

Luxury cars, such as BMW Series 5 or Audi 6, will cost anything between Dh500 and Dh1,000 per day. The price will vary according to the model and the features it offers.

Or if you really want to experience the rich life in Dubai, then you can hire a Ferrari — but be prepared to shell out a lot more money.

According to the car rental website, a Ferrari F8 Tributo Spider Novitec 2022 will cost Dh4,500 per day and McLaren 720S Novitec Spider 2023 will cost Dh5,000 for a day.

Companies also give the option of renting premium cars on an hourly basis.

Extra costs

Customers will have to pay 5 per cent VAT on the final bill.

Toll charges may differ, depending on which company you hire with. Avis charges Dh6 every time you cross a Salik gate in Dubai, whereas Hertz's tariff is Dh5.25 and some companies ask for Dh5.

There are currently 8 Salik gates operational in Dubai, so you may factor in the cost if you expect to cross the main highways often during your stay.

A vehicle registration fee of Dh5 per day, up to a maximum of Dh75 a month, will also be levied.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 28 APRIL 2019. The third day of Arabian Travel Market at the Dubai World Trade Center. General image for gallery. National rent a car company stand. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: None. Section: National.

What paperwork do you need to complete?

Mr Naeem says tourists need to provide a copy of their driving licence and passport.

“Car rentals usually take full payment for renting out a car to tourists and block anything between Dh1,000 and Dh4,000 on their credit card as a guaranteed amount, in case they commit any traffic offence. The deposit is higher for premium cars,” he said.

“This amount is released after a few days of returning the car. This is to make sure they didn't get a fine which did not show in the system at the time of returning the car.

“I have been in this business since 1998 and many tourists have rented our cars. To be fair, they rarely cause any trouble or break the rules.”

What if there is an accident?

Hire cars are insured, so any accident will be dealt with in the same way as other accidents.

The tourist involved in the accident will face the same rules as other drivers, which may include a visit to a police station or the court in serious cases.

If it is a case of drink-driving, the insurance will not cover any damages. In such a case, the rental company will have the right to recover the money from the customer but if the motorist was driving a friend's car then he or she will be liable to pay for all damages and police fines.

“Drink-driving breaks the contractual agreement with the insurance company and also breaks the law. So, insurance companies do not cover damages that are a result of drink-driving,” said legal consultant Nida Al Masri, from Justitia Advocates and Legal Consultants in Dubai.

“Many misunderstand this point and think insurance companies may cover damages that are a result of an accident, regardless of the cause of the accident.”

Can I drive the same car to Oman?

Not all companies allow this. The ones that do permit this will charge a one-way car rental fee and some other extra charges. You will need comprehensive insurance and a NOC from the car company.

Can I use a city car for off-roading?

The simple answer is, no. You cannot use a sedan for desert driving. You will be held fully liable for any damage this may cause.

Which countries are included in the list?

According to the Ministry of Interior's website, in addition to the GCC, the UK, Estonia, Albania, Portugal, Hungary, Greece, China, including Hong Kong, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Malta, Iceland, Montenegro, the US, France, Japan, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Ireland, Spain, Norway, New Zealand, Romanian, Singapore, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Finland, Turkey, Canada, Poland, South Africa and Australia are included.

In which countries can Emirati tourists drive using their UAE licence?

The ministry said that Emiratis can also drive on their UAE licenses if they visit these countries:

These include Estonia, Albania, Portugal, Hungary, Greece, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Malta, Iceland, Montenegro, the UK, Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Poland, Finland and China.

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Updated: January 29, 2023, 4:15 AM