How to rent a car in Dubai

How to rent a car in Dubai or in the United Arab Emirates

Basic insurance or full insurance? Daily, monthly or yearly? Do you go cheap and most likely receive ‘monkey service’? Or do you go a little extravagant but receive quality customer service? Of the plethora of car rental companies in Dubai, which one do you go with?

These are just some of the questions you need to answer before renting a car in Dubai or anywhere in the world. But take courage, you need not bang your head over these questions. I wrote these tips on how to rent a car in Dubai so you don’t have to. Read on and hopefully your experience will be as easy as pie.

How to rent a car in Dubai - Chevrolet Malibu

Probably the most expensive car I had ever rented – Chevrolet Malibu. It was a whopping AED1,400 for a week. Not that I asked for it. It was the only available car at the time. Chevrolet Malibu was super smooth and quiet too. The handbrake was a touch button. Sleek. Thankfully my company paid for it.  Now that’s a great example of how to rent a car in Dubai.

Basic insurance or full insurance? If you’re a relatively new driver (less than one year), you definitely need full insurance. This is for your own protection and your passengers’. Full insurance basically covers you as the driver, your passengers and third party. In case you meet an accident (and you will, especially as a new driver), you will be covered regardless of whose fault the accident is. Full insurance can be quite hefty though (starts at AED200) but it’s well worth it. If you’re a more confident driver and have more years of driving experience then a basic insurance might suffice. Do weigh things heavily.


Consider your driving route. Are you planning to drive only in the UAE or are you planning to drive to Oman too? Some companies cover Oman, some don’t so you have to be clear about this. The maximum mileage per month is 5,000 kms.

Validity of your driver’s license. Remember that the newer your license is the higher you pay for insurance. Some rental companies don’t even let new drivers rent unless their driver’s license is one year old. The newer the driver is, the higher the risk so they’re extra careful. There are rental companies who do rent out to new drivers, for a much a higher rate.

How to rent a car in Dubai - Toyota Yaris

My reliable silver Toyota Yaris 2016. I was the first to rent it, big thanks to Angelica. I made sure I had it washed before I returned it out of my appreciation for her.

Pay less or pay more? Money, money, money. Of course this will always be a big factor. It depends totally on how much you can afford. But do remember that the lower the fee is the poorer the quality of customer service usually is. Why does this matter? Because there will be times that you will have problems with the car you’re renting. And if the customer service at your rental company is terrible it can drive you nuts. Remember the saying, ‘you pay peanuts you get monkey service’.

Small car or big car? Remember that in Dubai, people drive fast and walk slowly. They drive so fast that they often get fines for overspeeding especially the locals. So the smaller the car you drive the less safe you are. Do note that most often than not, renting bigger cars costs more than smaller cars.

Cheap car or expensive car? A wise man once told me that I shouldn’t worry too much about money. It’s my safety that I should worry about. And I agree. Ask yourself, would a cheaper car mean more safety risks? Is it worth it? If not, then go for a costlier but safer car.

Less known rental company or reputed company? Again, less known almost always connotes cheaper and poor customer service. But not always. Before signing a lease contract, ask friends, colleagues or peers who have already rented with that company. They’d either tell you their service was good or recommend that you go elsewhere. My own recommendation? Hertz is probably the most expensive car rental company around but I dare say that their customer service is stellar. If I have a problem with a car, I simply call them and presto. They come to my location and replace it. Free of charge. Should you go with Hertz, I highly recommend that you call Mrs Angelica Fajarito at +9714-4290915. Her office is in the Dubai Media City, on the ground floor of Radisson SAS Hotel. Rents start from AED1,400++ for a Toyota Yaris 2016.

Do note that rental rates do not include Salik (toll) fee which is at AED5. You’ll also be held liable for any damage to the rental car – new scratches, stains, tyre damage, etc. Check with your rental company for more details on this. My suggestion? Take care of the car you’re renting as if it were yours. Then you wouldn’t be worrying about extra costs when you return it.


How to rent a car in Dubai – copy of international driving permit.

Here are the basic requirements for renting a car in Dubai:

  • International Driving Permit (IDP) – If you’re a tourist in Dubai and holds no valid UAE Driver’s License, you will need to have an IDP. Otherwise your valid UAE Driver’s License will suffice. Tourists holding UK and USA driver’s licenses can also drive for a short period in the UAE without needing to convert them into a Dubai driver’s license.
  • Original passport copy or original Emirates ID
  • Credit card – This is a must. A debit card won’t be accepted.
  • Safe and responsible driving (attitude). Driving in Dubai is not as stressful as driving in Manila, Cairo or Ho Chi Minh. But it still is stressful. Drivers change lanes without indicating. They will cut you off, overspeed or drive extremely slow on the left most lane. Or have their headlights on to blind you. You’re better driving defensively rather than aggressively.

Here is an overview of the car rental companies in Dubai that might be worth considering:

Thrifty Car Rental, toll free 800-4770,
Diamond Lease Car Rental, +971 4 885 2677,
Avis, 971 4 2245219
Europcar, +971 (4) 8871113
Hertz, +9714-4290915

Now that you know how to rent a car in Dubai, enjoy (safe) driving. To me, nothing beats driving in Dubai with the windows down and with Chris Tomlin’s songs blaring. That’s only during winter of course. And don’t forget to pray before you drive. Prayer works!

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