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Transportation in the UAE

With 80% of the UAE’s population being foreign born, the country is often considered an expat’s paradise. Indeed, you’ll find that many aspects of living in the UAE combine to make settling in fairly easy for expats. Our InterNations Guide gives you a detailed overview of expat life in the UAE.
Much more cliché than reality: cars are the main mode of transportation.


As petrol is quite cheap in the UAE, the main mode of transportation is the car. International car rentals and local companies offer great deals to expats who want to rent a car. However, expats should not hesitate to shop around and compare prices as rates may vary. In order to own a car, you must have a valid residency visa.

Expats should make sure to exchange their driver’s license from home for a local one. The regulations for this process may vary from emirate to emirate. However, once the local driving permit has been issued, driving is legal throughout the entire country.

Expats also need to be prepared for plenty of speed controls with high fines. In the UAE, traffic regulations are strictly enforced, and even small violations can cause a lot of trouble.

As of April 2014, the UAE is planning amendments to driving penalties. For example, new penalties will be introduced against eating, drinking, putting on make-up, or texting while driving. Wearing sunglasses at night and getting dressed inside your car will also be punishable. 

Driving Conditions

The UAE has an excellent road network, which you can also access from Qatar and Oman. Desert roads, on the other hand, are rather bumpy and should only be travelled with off-road cars. This can be an amazing adventure and a great way to experience the desert landscape of the UAE.

For these types of tours, it is important to take precautions, though. A tow rope and a shovel should be among the equipment in case the vehicle gets stuck. Bringing enough water is also essential, as well as taking a GPS device and a cell phone. Some companies offer guided off-road tours and off-road driving courses for complete beginners.

The excellent infrastructure and high mobility within the UAE also have a dark side: The UAE ranks highly for road deaths. 

Public Transport

Those who do not want to drive themselves can always take a taxi. Taxis are available almost everywhere in the UAE at relatively cheap rates. However, rates may differ depending on location and company. Please note that, in Abu Dhabi, most taxis are metered, but it is also possible that the fare is negotiated in advance.

As most people travel by car or taxi, public transportation options are rare. Buses and minibuses are only available in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and some parts of Dubai. The Dubai Metro, consisting of two different lines, is also a public transport alternative.

The Dubai Municipality has taken it upon itself to improve the inter-emirate bus services as well. Some travel as far as Muscat, Oman. Buses in the UAE are generally clean and efficient. 

Cycling and walking is not very common in the UAE. Not only is it considered too hot to exercise in the open air, but there are not any bike paths for cyclists either.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Peter B. Krehmer

"There are so many expats in the UAE, but the InterNations Dubai Ramadan dinners brought some wonderful guests together. "

Suzanne Payne

"Dubai is such an overwhelming mixture of tradition and modernity that I was very grateful for all the support from other expats. "

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