Can Women from Other Countries Drive in Dubai?

27th October, 2022, in Travel Advice & Guides

Much like Saudi Arabia, Dubai has often been thought of as a country with strict rules around women and their rights, particularly around working, driving or how they dress. Many of these rules stem from the Islamic beliefs these countries adhere to. Most of the judgments we make in the west are quite flawed, though, especially when it comes to driving.

Current law states that women can drive in Dubai, whether they are tourists or residents. Much like every other country, though, there are certain rules to follow and for some people, these rules are relatively new, especially as women only started being allowed to drive in Dubai as recently as June 2018.

Dubai is part of the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and has risen in popularity over the years as a haven for tourists and ex-pats. As a result, it’s important to get the rules right before setting out in your car.

Can a woman drive as a tourist in Dubai?

Driving in Dubai as a tourist is perfectly fine, as long as you have the correct driving licence and are of the required age.

In Dubai, if you are 21 or older and hold an international driver’s licence as well as a credit card, you are legally allowed on the roads. For a long-term stay where you could potentially become categorised as a resident, you can transfer your UK licence to a UAE licence.

What is the International Driving Licence?

An international driving licence, also known as an international driving permit (IDP), is a form of licence that allows you to drive in certain countries. You can apply for them at the post office for just £5.50. Before applying, check whether the country you are travelling to requires you to have one. Dubai, for example, requires you to hold an IDP.

Which side of the road do you drive on in Dubai?

When visiting Dubai, you will need to make sure you drive on the right-hand side of the road. Your hire car will have the steering wheel on the left.

Does Dubai have speed limits?

There certainly are speed limits in Dubai, and it is important they are adhered to. Punishments for breaking driving laws can be severe.

The speed limits vary, just like many other places in the world, depending on how the road is classified and what its size is. Residential roads tend to have limits that are between 25-45 km/h, whereas many of the highways have limits of 100 km/h.

Keep an eye on the signs to ensure you don’t inadvertently drive too fast.

What are the roads like in Dubai?

The roads in Dubai can be extremely busy, and could be intimidating for a new driver. Much like many other places in the world, evenings and weekends tend to be busy, but Friday daytimes are among the quietest.

Distance rules aren’t thought of so highly in Dubai and it shouldn’t be a surprise to find someone sneaking into a space between you and the car in front of you. If you find this happening, it is your responsibility to reintroduce the safe distance by dropping back a little.

Speed cameras are common in Dubai and as a result, many people are caught out. In addition, the police are frequently on patrol and will stop you if you are seen to be going too fast.

Further to these pointers, keep an eye out for how lanes are used. The rules tend to be forgotten here and many drivers end up going too fast in the slow lanes and drive slowly in the fast lanes. There is also the chance you will see people driving on the hard shoulder when they should be in the lane.

What should you never do when driving in Dubai?

Drink driving is not allowed anywhere, but some countries have a level of alcohol that you are allowed in your system before an offence is committed. In Dubai, it is illegal regardless of how much you have drunk. If you are caught and found to have even had a sip, you could find yourself in prison.

Some drivers may act irrationally on the road and as a result, you may make a frustrated hand gesture as they pass you. This is hugely offensive, regardless of the gesture, and can lead to you being arrested.

Is Dubai safe for women?

Overall, Dubai is the most liberal of all the UAE states and allows women perhaps more freedom than other places in the region. That being said, it is important to understand that certain laws still apply. One thing to understand is that if you are visiting Dubai, the state laws rather than the Islamic laws apply to you, and respect of this should be adhered to at all times.

If you are heading to Dubai, use a hire car to get around and explore the variety of incredible sights. With the roads being as busy as they are, and the inconsistent driving styles of some residents, it would be advisable to ensure you are protected from any additional costs connected to your hire car. Taking out a car hire excess insurance policy means that there won’t be any unusual extra charges added to your hire car bill and you can travel around worry-free. We offer single or multi-trip cover meaning that whether you are away for business or pleasure, we have you covered. Get a free quote today.

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