Rules for Driving in Dubai

This has been around the blogosphere and emails for Dubai residents and visitors for a couple of years now but thought that others would be interested in reading about it if they have not heard them before. It certainly created a few laughs here at work! I have made some annotations in brackets.

1. If your road map is more than a few weeks old, throw it out and get a new one.
2. If you are in Rashidiya and your map is one day old, then it is already obsolete.
3. Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Dubai has its own version of traffic rules, which can be summarized as ‘Hold on and pray!’
4. If it is your priority to cross, forget it and wait.
5. There is no such thing as dangerous high-speed chase in Dubai . Everyone drives like that.
6. When you plan to get a new car, ask first about its acceleration from 80 to 160 Km/h (recommended: 3 seconds). Very important if you frequently use the Emirates Road
7. All directions start with Sheikh Zayed Road , which has no beginning and no end.
8. The morning rush hour is from 5:00 AM to 1:00 PM, The evening rush hour is from 1:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
9. Thursday’s rush hour starts Wednesday morning.
10. If you slow down at a yellow light, you will be rear-ended and then given a ticket by the Dubai Police.
11. If you are the first one at the intersection, when the light turns green ignore the car honking behind you and count to five to avoid crashing into one of the cars running the red light in cross-traffic.
12 Construction on all main roads is a way of life and a permanent form of entertainment. (The road signs say “We are building the future of Dubai – Sorry for the inconvenience”)
13. All unfamiliar sights are explained by the phrase, ‘Oh, we must be in Sharjah!’
14. Car horns are actually toys for big boys.
15. Anyone in a Land Cruiser, Nissan Patrol, or Range Rover with 100% tinted windows has the right of way. Period! (they can’t see where they are going so best to get out of their way!)
16. If you are driving a Corolla, Sunny, or another small Japanese car, stay on the far right lane. No comment! (that would be me in the Yaris – I look in the rear view mirror as much as forward)
17. Most roads mysteriously change names as you cross intersections.
18. To ask directions, you must have good knowledge of Hindi/ Malayalam.
19. A trip across town will take a minimum of four hours, although Sheikh Zayed Road has an unposted minimum speed of 150 Km/h.
20. It is sobering to realize that local Arabs are taught how to drive by Pakistanis.
21. 18 wheeler trucks are one of the fastest vehicles in Dubai; they can do 120 Km/h on Hatta-Oman Road when fully loaded.
22. The minimum acceptable speed on the Emirates Road is 160 km/h. Anything less is considered downright sissy.
23. Al Khail Road is Dubai’s daily version of NASCAR.
24. Dubai Autodrome has a new extension: The Emirates Road.
25. Red light means don’t stop for locals, Yellow light means go through for other Arab nationals and Green light means wait, look right and left and go cautiously for Indians and Pakistanis.
26. Still, Dubai is the only place where buying a car is easier than getting a driver’s license.

And another one, forget about getting your children to wear seatbelts, especially if they are sitting on your lap on the front seat as you tear down the Emirates Road at 140 km/hr. I have seen so many cars with kids in the back seat jumping around.

But overall, my experience after driving about 10,000 km here in the UAE is that most people drive appropriately. It’s the rare few that do crazy things that stuff it up for the rest. Like yesterday, someone from the middle lane on a six lane highway deciding to slow down to 30 km/hr so that they could cut across the other three lanes and turn-off at an exit that they overshot. All I can do in my little Yaris is keep plodding along at the speed limit (100 or 120), keep my wits about me for the crazies, and whatever else, never ever drive in the outside lane where people think 160 is a minimum.


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