Where and What to Hire
When renting a car in Dubai, there are a large range of suppliers to choose from. At Dubai International Airport major car hire companies include Acquire Rent a Car, Budget, Auto Assist, Avis, Dollar, Sixt and Hertz. It is also possible to rent a car in the centre of Dubai with Carlease, Diamond Lease Hertz, Indigo Rent a Car, Hertz, Holiday Autos, Europecar and Thrifty all located on the main Sheikh Zayed Road which runs along Dubai’s waterfront. With so many companies, there are a wide variety of cars available from small two-door vehicles to four-door, 4x4’s, luxury limousines, van hire and more.
Driving in Dubai can be nerve-wracking for the first time visitor and it, unfortunately, has one of the highest accident and death rates on the roads. This is due to the often fast and reckless driving and aggressive overtaking of locals. With this in mind, it pays to be prepared and know the road system as well as possible. Firstly it is best to avoid rush hour on Dubai’s roads which is from 7am to 10am and 4.30pm to 7pm. Dubai’s road network is made up of one to five lanes of traffic in each direction. Most road names are written in Arabic and English. There are some unusual potential road hazards such as camels and goats wandering by the roadside. If you hit one with your car you will have to pay money to its owner. Trucks and lorries can also sometimes lose some of their loads on the motorways so be sure to drive a safe distance behind. There is a toll system in Dubai but drivers do not pay at a tollbooth. Instead, payment must be using a pre-paid card which is available from almost anywhere in the city. The cost is 100 Dirham’s for a card and each toll costs 4. Therefore the card is valid for 25 trips. There are 6 tollgates in the Dubai area.
There is parking in Dubai at the airport and also at all hotels in the city. Other than that parking can be very expensive. On-street parking is paid by the hour and distinguished by orange signs that signal it is a parking zone.
Where to Go and What to See
To make use of the car there are some great places to visit in and around the Dubai area. It is well worth the 90 mile 1 and a half hour drive to Abu Dhabi where 4x4 desert safaris offer hours of fun in the scorching sands, especially for those who crave a bit of adventure. Beautiful Ajman, just 6 miles from Dubai boasts a stunning 16th century fortress, a fascinating museum and some beautiful white sandy beaches where dolphins can sometimes be seen frolicking in the sea. A drive along the east coast reveals stunning views of the Indian Ocean, rocky headlands, sleepy fishing villages and ancient mosques. The city of Sharjah is just a 50 minute drive from Dubai and offers excellent restaurants, shopping, museums and culture. A beautiful historic district makes this a fascinating place for visitors who are interested in the region’s history. The Fort Museum and the Archaeological Museum are two must see sights. Jet skiing is also possible around tranquil Khalid Lagoon. There are also plenty of places in which to entertain the kids. Wild Wadi Water Park is an Arabian adventure of wave pools, slides, rapids and rides. It is located just 20 minutes north of the centre of Dubai. Alternatively, adults can enjoy some child free shopping by dropping the children off in Kidzania – a miniature city where it’s the kids that are in charge. They can dress as pilots, policemen, firemen and doctors. For kids that love underwater wildlife Dubai Aquarium is mesmerising. This colossal aquarium is filled with exotic marine life, sharks, manta rays and giant shoals of fish. There are tunnels to walk under, an underwater zoo, spectacular corals, giant lizards and seadragons and so many other thrilling things to see.