Car rental agencies may not tell you everything you need to know about driving in and around Dubai but there is an electronic toll system in the United Arab Emirates. Rental cars do come equipped with a gizmo because it is nearly impossible to bypass toll roads simply because they are everywhere. The electric gates are very close to each other, you could easily see five gates or more within a few kilometers but they only cost nickel and dime per gate. We drove over 1,000 kilometers in the Emirates and spent about $50 on tolls in 5 days but it was worthy.
Please note that there is another $45 charge for picking up rental cars at the Dubai International Airport. Nice, France does the same thing, think of it like a luxury tax.
Well, speeding is a must avoid. Fines are super high and you will get caught, if the police does not stop you, you will get photographed. Fines start from 600 dirham which is around $200 so it is better to slow down and keep the speed limit. The car rental agencies keep your credit card on file so eventually the fine will get to you one way or the other.
Lastly, driving in Dubai is very stressful. This is a very busy metropolitan city with a population of 2.5 million plus add visitors who are shopping and entertaining day and night. There are constructions on pretty much every corner so the city is expanding. Life does not stop, kind of like New York or Las Vegas; you will find supermarkets open at 1 AM with no parking, people walking with babies/kids in the middle of the night so you wonder what time they go to sleep.
Locals drive like maniacs and aggressive driving is not my strength; they tend to push you off the road. We picked side roads whenever we could to avoid the crazies on highways. We spent 5 days there and found at least 10 ways of getting to back to our hotel and 15 ways of getting lost. There are roundabouts at every end of the road and for a westerner it looked complicated first to understand how to change lines to exit from there and figure out when Arabs are flashing the turn signal in roundabouts. Chaotic for sure, similar to the traffic in Naples, Italy or Asuncion, Paraguay. Take the metro in downtown Dubai or pay for a tour if you can, there are not many tourists driving in the city. The country roads are fine just leave early and come back to Dubai late. Very late!