Planning the Trip to Dubai: Things You Need to Know About the Difference Between Highway Driving in the USA and UAE

Last Updated: April 15, 2024

The United Arab Emirates is different from the USA in many regards and one of them is certainly when it comes to driving. This information is crucial for those who plan to go on a trip to Dubai or any other part of the UAE because it will ensure that you drive safely.

The driving side

We know that in the USA, cars drive on the right side and that is the case for most of the world but when it comes to Dubai and the UAE, they drive on the left side, which means that the driver is driving on the right side. This can be really tricky for people who have never driven a car on the left side because they are accustomed to something different. Since people in the UAE like to drive cars really fast, we would suggest that you take it easy at first, at least until you get used to doing the opposite. It would be smart for you to rent or get a car that does not work manually because you do not want to think about too many things at the same time; you want to concentrate on the road.

Road accidents

This is something that you must consider when driving on the streets of Dubai. This is a city where there are a lot of visitors from different parts of the world who implement different traffic rules so it is really common that accidents happen. If you are from a small town in the US, you may find it hard to navigate the fast traffic in Dubai. There are many cars that speed and drive recklessly, so be extra careful when you are on the road. Also, the road conditions are very different from what you can find back home. Frequent high temperatures and occasional sandstorms can considerably affect the driving conditions. When you get into an accident in the UAE, you are obligated to call the police. So if you are a truck driver, it is really helpful to have someone like the truck crash lawyers of Thomas Law Offices who can handle any difficulties that you may face. There are many things that are different in the US so you need someone to handle it all for you.

The traffic rules

We already mentioned that you need to drive on the left side but there are many other rules that you have to know that are different from the ones you have in America. The speed limits are usually lower than in America. In urban areas, you can drive somewhere between 25 and 35 miles/hour while on highways, from 60 to 75. It is well known that in Dubai you will see many luxury cars and the people in them love to show what they have, but if you do not have millions in the bank, you should avoid breaking the speeding limit there. There are rules about slower-moving vehicles staying in the right lanes while the left is for overtaking. If you fail to adhere to these results, there is a high possibility that you will be fined. They are also stricter when it comes to wearing seatbelts. If you want to use your phone, you need to have a hands-free device, so texting, calling, or using the internet is prohibited unless you have one of these devices. You can get fined but also deducted points from your driving licence. When it comes to roundabouts, there is a huge difference in how you should act. If you are in the roundabout in the UAE, you have the right of passage, while in the US, it is the opposite. The other traffic rules are more or less the same; just be careful because in Dubai there are a lot of cameras to enforce these rules, so drive safely!


Your driving licence

Before you hop on a plane and go to Dubai, it is necessary to say that you should check all your documents to see whether they are still valid, and if you intend to drive while you are there, you need a valid driver's license. You may also be required to get an international driver's licence. You should inform yourself about this; perhaps at the place where you will rent a car, you can call ahead and they should know what you need to do.

Do not get lost

Dubai is a vast city and the rush hour can be a real problem for people who are not familiar with the city or for those who are there to visit. What you need to do is always use a GPS system and avoid big crowds if you are not too comfortable driving in them. Also, it may sometimes be better for you to get a cab than to try and navigate this city.


When you are in the UAE, you may find different ways to pay for parking. Some areas have a time limit, and if you do not leave the designated area, it can lead to fines or maybe even your car being towed. In the US, there are different rules for parking depending on the state in which you live so pay attention when you are in the UAE because you do not have to pay any unnecessary fines.

Road etiquette

It is really important that you understand that in the US, what you do on the road can mean something else in Dubai. For example, blinking your headlights, giving hand gestures, and honking can all be understood differently depending on where you do them. If you do not know what some gesture means on the road in the UAE, then try not to do it because it could get you into trouble.

There are many things that you need to learn if you want to properly navigate Dubai with your vehicle. Some things may seem strange but you will be accommodated quickly if you drive frequently there.

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