Driving in the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) is the best way to see this fascinating mix of ancient desert landscapes and hypermodern cities. The nation's road network was recently ranked #1 in the world as per the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) for 2014-2015 prepared by World Economic Forum. But whether you're visiting on vacation or relocating here for work, you'll need to know the rules of the road!
As is the case in all countries in the Middle East, the rules in UAE are to drive on the right hand side of the road. Always bear in mind that the country has many visitors from around the world who may be used to different driving conditions, so exercise due caution.
Rapid development in the UAE means that, as the population grows and new roads are built, laws are updated frequently, and speed limits can and do change. Limits generally are relatively high; 50-60 km/h in towns and 100-120km/h on highways which may vary.
Third-party insurance is the mandatory minimum requirement, but comprehensive insurance is advisable due to the relatively high accident rate in UAE. If you have an accident and you've been drinking alcohol, your policy will be invalidated, this is where comprehensive comes in. If you intend to drive off-road—a popular activity in the country—check your policy coverage.
Licences and Points
An international driving licence (or a licence from an approved country) covers you to drive a rental car in the UAE. If you intend to drive a private car, however, you'll need to get a temporary or permanent UAE licence. "Black Points" are issued for driving violations; if you get 24 points in a single year, your licence will be suspended.
Use of the Shoulder
The government has recently decided to clamp down on drivers using the hard shoulder. The shoulder is officially designated for emergency vehicles, and drivers using it to overtake can now expect to receive six black points as well as a fine.
In April 2014, it was announced that new traffic regulations were being introduced across the country, including penalties for eating and drinking, or using a mobile phone while driving; wearing sunglasses after dark; and higher penalties for excess speed, including possible confiscation of the vehicle.
Finally, be aware that certain regulations may vary between Emirates. The governments of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, for example, publicise changes in the law on their own websites