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Glamorous and exotic Dubai is a city in the Emirate of Dubai, one of the seven states of the United Arab Emirates. Perched on the Persian Gulf and mixing Middle Eastern glamour with chic cosmopolitanism, Dubai is a glittering metropolis known for its architecture, nightlife and shopping. It’s also a great location for visiting nearby destinations by hire car, such as Abu Dhabi,Sharjah Ras,Al-Khaimah and Al Ain.
If you’re arriving via Dubai International Airport then it’s an eight-mile drive by rental car to Dubai. En route, you could stop off at WAFI Mall, an Egyptian-style shopping centre in the shape of a pyramid that includes a replica of an ancient Arabian market.
Finding a hire car in Dubai is simple. You can rent a car from a range of providers at Dubai International Airport and in the city centre itself. There is free parking at many shopping centres in Dubai, although not usually overnight. Various streets also have free parking if you grab a space early enough. Dubai also has a wide variety of hotels, including Armani Hotel Dubai, Novotel World Trade Centre and the eco-friendly Vida Downtown Dubai. Many hotels offer free parking so do check before booking.
There are various hire car providers to suit your budget and preferences, including Hertz, Budget and Avis. Many offer extras like free cancellation, unlimited mileage and a shuttle service to your rental car.
There are a host of things to see and do by hire car in Dubai, much of them awe-inspiring. The icon of the city is the Palm Jumeirha, an artificial, palm-shaped archipelago that looks unreal against the turquoise ocean and includes the ultra-luxurious Atlantis hotel. The World Islands, still under development, are a set of artificial islands in the shape of a world map. The jaw-dropping Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, is a staggering 2,717 feet high. Dubai Marina is a two-mile long, man-made canal where you can sometimes spot whales. Other attractions to visit by rental car in Dubai include the historic Bur Dubai area, which includes the Dubai Heritage Village with re-enactments of life in old Dubai, the Grand Mosque, the Dubai Museum and the dazzling Gold Souk. The city also has a fabulous and varied food scene, and you can enjoy Arabic, Indian, Chinese and European cuisine, among other options.
The Arabian Desert is a 20-mile drive by hire car from Dubai. Sweeping and mysterious, this untamed space of golden sand dunes is perfect for enjoying activities like quad-biking, sand-boarding and camel riding. If driving into the desert, make sure that your car has a first aid kit, a repair kit and plenty of bottled water.
Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, is an 86-mile drive from Dubai by rental car. You can reach the city along the epic E 11 highway, the longest road in the Emirates, though bear in mind that this route has tolls. Highlights of Abu Dhabi include the massive Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Abu Dhabi and Marina malls, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld and Qasr al-Hosn, an 18th century palace and fort.
Driving in Dubai is fascinating as there’s so much to see. Dubai is right-hand drive and make sure you keep a safe distance from other cars, as tailgating is common. Due to the bright weather, it’s common for drivers to tint their windows but this can reduce visibility so do take care. Also, drivers sometimes don’t turn on their headlights at night, so make sure that yours are always switched on. Speeding can also be common in the city.
Feeling inspired to explore Dubai and the rest of the UEA? Check out this City Guide and use the Expedia search tool to help you find the best car hire, flight and hotel deals and to research the best attractions and activities.