DUBAI // Different rules and regulations in Dubai and Sharjah regarding quad bikes could leave uninsured users involved in accidents at risk of prosecution and hefty medical bills, according to lawyers.
It is illegal to ride unregistered quad bikes in residential areas, the desert, internal roads and beaches in and around Dubai, where the Roads and Transport Authority has set guidelines on how they can be used.
However, many desert safari and quad bike rental companies listed in Dubai operate in Sharjah, where regulations differ. There the police is the licensing authority and the rules are more lenient.
This can create problems for customers who are not insured and then fall foul of the differences.
“Bikes need to be registered in Dubai, but not in Sharjah. The rules are different, that is why we are keeping our company in Sharjah. We still have to keep our customers safe,” said Rubin Manjaly from Big Red Quad Bike Rental on the road between Al Batayeh and Al Faya Road in Sharjah.
If driving quad bikes in Dubai’s desert, riders should have comprehensive insurance coverage against accidents and civil liability from a licensed insurance company in the emirate, said Ibrahim Al Banna, an advocate at the UAE Courts and managing director of Al Banna Advocates and Legal Consultants.
However, Mr Manjaly said customers had to sign an agreement taking responsibility for their actions and were told they were not insured for accidents.
“We are hiring 400cc and 300cc automatic quad bikes. You do not need a licence, just an ID to sign our rental agreement,” he said.
Mr Al Banna said Dubai’s laws were clear.
“Unlicensed quad bikes being rented is illegal and the institutions that are hiring these to individuals need to be monitored and fined,” he said.
Licensing requirements include the submission of a copy of one’s identity documents, ownership documents, a comprehensive insurance certificate valid for a period specified by the agency, and certification of individuals who took safety courses and competence tests from sales dealers or specialised institutes.
“Those who wish to open a business renting out quad bikes must make sure no quad bike is driven or rented unless it has been registered, or licensed at the RTA Licensing Agency,” Mr Al Banna said.
Concerns were raised recently after a couple crashed in Al Ain desert. Hamed Al Obaidi, 27, who was riding the quad bike, was prosecuted. He spent 10 days in jail and was fined Dh6,300 after the police and courts applied road traffic laws. His fiancee, Jesse Kerkhove, 29, suffered a broken leg and internal bleeding.
Sharjah traffic police said quad bikes were banned from the emirate’s roads unless they were registered and users had a motorcycle licence.
Driving on sand, however, was not illegal, said Lt Saoud Al Shiba. “People can use them without the need to have the quad bikes registered,” he said.
“Anyone found riding these motorbikes on the emirate’s roads will be dealt with according to the federal traffic law.
“Sometimes we stop motorists from driving them if it’s in bad weather, or in parts that are considered dangerous, where we issue warnings without fines.”
Sunil Kumar Gurung, who works with Golden Desert Dubai rentals on the E44 motorway between Dubai and Hatta, said the company rented out about 500 unlicensed quad bikes a week, but did not offer insurance.
“As it is an off-road activity, it is not insured by us,” he said.
“Customers must sign a disclaimer form that mentions everything. We do not leave the customer on their own, we provide a helmet and a guide. It is safer, but they can go on their own if they want.”