When some people head overseas on holiday, they are more than happy to simply head from the airport to their hotel and then spend the rest of their time away from home relaxing by the pool or on the beach.
Others however prefer to head out to explore a bit more and whilst some will be happy to stay relatively close to their hotel and stroll around on foot, some will want to head further afield and will need a set of wheels for the duration of their trip.
Whilst Dubai may conjure up visions of sportscars and luxury barges from the likes of Mercedes, Bentley and Rolls Royce, hiring a car whilst in Dubai doesn’t have to be an expensive affair as you’ll be able to rent something more modest for under £30 a day.
At the same time, you can easily spend more if you want something larger, or luxurious, to use during the course of your trip.
With most of the major rental companies having desks at Dubai International Airport as well as in the city itself, hiring a car for any length of time should be something you can do with relative ease.
But what do you need to consider if you’re going to hire some wheels during your Dubai adventure?
How old do you need to be?
Although you can drive a car from the age of 18 in Dubai, you will need to be aged at least 21 in order to rent one - and even then you might find your options limited.
That’s because drivers under the age of 24 are classed as ‘young drivers’ and there are restrictions on what kind of car you can rent, whilst there will also be surcharges to consider on the price.
Expect to be limited to smaller cars like the Toyota Yaris or Ford KA until you are over 25, when you will pretty much have free choice from whatever the rental company has available.
What do you need to hire a car in Dubai?
Obviously you will need to hold a full valid driving licence in order to hire a car, but you must also have held the licence for a period of twelve months. You will also need a Type 1968 International Driving Permit (IDP), which you must apply for before travelling at the Post Office and which will be valid for you to use for three years when visiting a range of different destinations.
As well as your driving licence, you will need to show your passport in order to hire a car and will also need a credit card - both to pay for the hire and also to act as a deposit. Be aware that a lot of hire companies will not take a debit card for this purpose.
How does insurance work?
Car hire will include insurance although don’t assume that this level of cover will be the same as your fully comprehensive policy that you have in place for your own car back at home.
A basic level of cover - sometimes referred to as the Collision Damage Waiver - will get you on the road but can include a hefty excess and doesn’t include things like windscreen damage or tyre damage.
Both of those can be added on as extras to many policies along with Personal Accident cover that would help to cover medical costs in the event of an accident. You can also pay additional fees to reduce the excess that you would be liable for in the event of a claim.
Where can I rent a car?
The best way to rent a car when going to Dubai is to do it in advance as you can usually then secure the best rates and may be able to benefit from special advance prices. You will also be able to make use of price comparison sites to check multiple companies at once.
However, you might not know that you want to hire a car before travelling, in which case you can either hire a car at the airport or once you get into Dubai itself.
Prices are usually lower if you are doing a walk in booking if you do it away from the airport.
Important rules of the road
The most obvious difference to back home is that you drive on the right hand side of the road in Dubai rather than the left.
As in the UK, seatbelts are mandatory whilst you will face a fine for things like using a mobile phone whilst driving, exceeding the speed limit or jumping a red light.
One thing of importance is that there is a zero tolerance policy to drink driving and even the smallest amount of alcohol in your system can result in prosecution and leave you facing a potential jail term.
Dubai is home to a number of toll roads and using these roads will incur charges that you can then pay when you return your hire car.
Road signs will feature English writing that will help you navigate your way around, and also to ensure that your driving stays within the law.