So, you have planned to rent a car for your visit in Dubai. A big congrats on that!
Dubai is basically a creek, with one long road, and different districts / areas / neighborhoods along it – often with nothing in-between for some distance.
Many people will argue that the best way to travel in Dubai is by Taxi.
If you intend to spend a few days within the Emirate of Dubai, taxis are hassle-free and most convenient way to get around, even if slightly expensive. For many tourist activities, pick and drop from the hotel in 4x4s is usually included, so again, having your own vehicle would be of no use.
So why would you drive yourself? Well, you may favor independence – depends on how far you want to go and how much you want to see. For example, if you were staying anywhere in Dubai, and wanted to see the Emirates National Auto Museum, home to the largest road legal vehicle in the world, a trip via a taxi will cost you upwards of US$ 200. And that’s depending on how many people you have in the family. A taxi can legally only seat 4 passengers, unless you arrange for the larger family cabs, which will cost extra and will require waiting time.
It would only be advisable to rent a car if you:
- Plan on visiting other emirates, or
- Have young kids, and won’t be able to use public transport with ease
It is relatively easy to hire a car – same as any country really – but you really need to consider how much driving you will be doing, and whether you would prefer convenience rather than cost.
Renting a vehicle is extremely easy and you can get a family car from Hertz/ Avis etc at about USD 55/day (GPS might cost you extra, but you won’t need it if you have Google maps on your phone).
If you have an International Driver’s Permit, you can rent a car at the airport, but that is the only place where you can rent a car without a local driver’s license.
Dubai’s easy to navigate, and you will need to get about a little. Google Maps works fine for navigation if you have a SIM card with a data pack for your GSM-enabled smartphone. You can also get local SIM at the airport and top up later as needed.
It’s a busy city, but if you’ve driven in any major metro before, you should be fine. But then you will have to face the “crazy” (to some tourists) driving methods employed in Dubai.
Whether it’s worth it depends on what you plan to do. If you’re doing only one or two local destinations a day, again, a car may not be worth the time and cost. If you’re planning to drive out of Dubai city, on the other hand, renting a car could be worth it.
If you do end up renting, watch the posted speed limits. The place is littered with speed cams.
Accidents and unexpected mishaps can and do happen at any time, so it’s well worth your while to take out protection. We would also recommend that you protect yourself and purchase standalone car hire excess insurance in advance from a 3rd party operator. If you purchase this in advance you can avoid being pressured into this expensive purchase at the rental counter.
Enjoy your trip.