a VirtualTourist member from Boston
Hello, I will be in Dubai for a few days in about 2-3 weeks.
I'd like to rent a car when I'm there -- is this a good idea to get around? How is the parking/traffic?
I have a US license; is this sufficient for car rental or do I need an international permit?
US License will suffice. Though road network is pretty good, traffic and parking can be challenging depending upon the lication / time. Dubai has excellent public transport network, hence, Car Rental would only be feasible depending upon where u intend to stay and go, if u untend to visit places outside Dubai such as Sharjah abd Abu Dhabi, then Car Rental is a must.
I rented a car in Dubai about ten days ago. I got conflicting/confusing information from Avis itself as to whether I would need the international permit, so to be on the safe side I went ahead and got one at AAA (the fee was $15, so not really a big deal).
The metro is good in Dubai, but having a car will greatly expand your opportunities to visit things. It's quite easy to drive there, so if you feel like you want to be more independent, go for it. You don't say whether you will be working or on vacation; traffic can be bad at rush hour, so you may want to factor this in if you're going to need to drive at peak times.
I'm there for a few day layover between two business trips that are back to back so I'll be doing some sight-seeing. I would be there on a weekend (i.e. Friday through Monday) if that helps and I expect to drive during various times. Is parking a nuissance in Dubai?
Aha. I don't think you should have too much problem with either traffic or parking then. Full disclosure, the reason I rented the car in the first place was to get the hell out of Dubai and over to Oman (because I despise Dubai). But if you haven't been, it's something to check off the list.
The WHO recently added road safety to their mandate. Based on a variety of factors (i can't find the actual report at the moment), they have a top 10 most dangerous countries to drive. Most of them are in Africa (Eritrea is #1), but other than Afghanistan and Iraq, the UAE was in the top 10 (#9). The report blames the lack of driver education and the modernity of the infrastructure and cars themselves.
Because the roads are really good, and the cars can go REALLY fast, drivers tend to push the limits. Hence the high fatality rate.
You know, I had experienced some of that crazy UAE driving in past years, but this trip was noticeably calmer. There were a couple of jackasses climbing up my back bumper on the E311 when I happened to be going "only" 140 km/h in the left lane, but on the whole it was really not bad. (I grew up driving the New Jersey Turnpike, so I can handle aggressive drivers around me!)
US license will be sufficient enough but in a city like Dubai I would prefer a metro or as it gets quiet jam at peak hours plus when you are not aware of the shortcuts and remember it is a left hand driven country :-)
Left hand driven country? My understanding is that they drive on the right side of the road (i.e. with a steering wheel on the left side) -- is that not the case?
Nonetheless, I have driven on the left side as well and don't have any issues with it..
If you have a map or GPS, you will be fine to drive in Dubai. Easy to get around, signs in English. heavy traffic in rush hours. Make sure the ac works, gas is cheap.
cheers tommy x
Traffic and parking depends where you are. In the old city the traffic is bad and parking a nightmare. In New Dubai it's easier.
Driving is on the right (left hand drive cars).
Getting around is easy by public transport, especially the Metro and taxis. Taxis are cheap, metered, air-conditioned and strictly regulated.
Technically you need an International Driving permit, although some hire companies turn a blind eye.
Choice is yours really, although as you don't know the roads or your way around I suggest using public transport is the better option.
Google Maps on my iPhone worked great to get me around Dubai.
It is NOT a right-hand-drive country; the cars are the same as in the US. I was surprised that I ended up with an automatic, too--usually outside the US you have to pay up for it, but even my cheapo Nissan Tiida had an automatic transmission.
Yes I meant left hand drive cars.
I agree with Colin: driving here is dangerous, very dangerous. Road signs are confusing even for us residents, because they keep on changing roads, access and exits constantly. And given the fact that we now have the metro and that taxis are so, so cheap, I would usually recommend sparing yourself the stress and avoid driving yourself.