New to the roads? Here's 5 helpful tips and coping techniques on how to handle driving in Dubai.
13 August 2017| Last updated on 19 January 2020
When it comes to driving in Dubai for the first time, it can be nerve-wracking - there's no denying that.
But between the lack of indicator use, cars that swerve across lanes and truck tyres that explode, you might find comfort in learning a few coping techniques on how to drive safely and stress-free in Dubai.
Once you know exactly what to expect when driving in Dubai, here are 5 pieces of tried-and-tested advice to help ensure your journey from A to B is a smooth one next time you venture out.
1. Stay calm
Although it is easier said than done it really helps if you stay calm behind the wheel- road rage gets you nowhere and you could make a driving mistake if you let yourself become angry.
If you drive knowing that people will undertake you, they will pull out in front of you, they will not indicate and just be ready for it- anticipate others' driving mistakes and you will be ready to deal with them.
It is going to happen and you shouting, flashing or honking at them is not going to make any difference apart from raising your blood pressure through the roof.
2. Learn your routes
Driving is always less stressful if you know where you are going. Dubai has a great road system which is ever expanding to cope with the volume of traffic on the roads.
It can be quite complicated when you first start to drive here- so why don't you learn a few routes to nearby places you need to go to- you can do this by taking taxi journeys and watching where they go or asking a friend or your husband to drive and you take note of the route.
Once you have mastered a few- add a few more and you will feel your confidence grow. Also... Don't panic! if you get lost or take the wrong turn there will always be a way back- even if you end up miles from nowhere there will always be a sign saying Dubai. Treat getting lost as a bit of an adventure and you never know what you might find along the way!
3. Practice makes perfect
You might feel you need some practice before you hit the roads here so ask a friend or family member to come out with you, be brave and go yourself as a quiet time like a Friday morning or book a mini course of driving lessons at a driving school to help build your confidence.
If you are used to driving on the "other side" of the road a top tip is to wear a scrunchy on your right wrist or even a glove on your right hand so you can quickly check if you are on the right side of the road or not.
The way the road system is set up here it is pretty difficult to be on the wrong side, except possibly on two way roads or roundabouts where you need to be careful if you're just getting used to driving on the right.
4. The roads
There are certain roads in Dubai that are busier or quieter than others so you can start off on the quieter ones until you build up the confidence to go on the busier ones.
Beach Road and Al Wasl Road have lower speed limits so are a good alternative to SZR. Al Khail Road and Emirates Road have quite a lot of trucks and are busy in the Abu Dhabi direction in the morning rush hours, and in the Sharjah direction during the evening rush hours but are mainly ok the rest of the times.
The Dubai Bypass Road is lovely and quiet but again just watch out for trucks. SZR has improved over the years- if you know which junction you are coming off at and keep calm and stay in the first 2 lanes it is doable!
Roundabouts or traffic circles can be tough as many people get impatient and lane discipline does not always apply- go slow around them and keep your eyes open for cars on you're inside going all the way around- don't panic- you can always go round again if you can't pull off.
Don't let yourself be bullied and panic if someone is honking at you to pull out at a roundabout... Go when you feel and know it is safe.
:: We really do hope this article has helped - we are not trying to over-dramatise the issues or put you off driving but mainly to point out the common events that do happen so you can be aware of them, prepare yourself for them and deal with them.
Don't forget that Dubai is such a melting pot of cultures that there are bound to be varying levels of driving standards and that Dubai Police and the RTA are working very hard to work out the issues and problems.
The roads have got better over the last 10 years and standards have definitely improved, but there will always be those who flout the law with a disregard for others' safety. It is up to you to be the safest driver that you can be.