9 tips for driving in the UAE

1. If you are brave enough to drive in the left lane on a freeway, however briefly, prepare to be bullied by people driving really nice cars. They will come out of nowhere (because they are driving approximately 200 kph), ride right on your bumper, and flash their lights at you until you move over. In other words, stay out of the left lane unless you really, really, REALLY need to use it.

2. Consider that if you come to a complete stop at a stop sign, you may be hit (or nearly hit) from behind by people who do not expect you to do so. Because stop signs are just guidelines here.

3. When traffic on a multi-lane expressway comes screeching to an unexpected halt (I'm talking to you, Emirates Road), punch your hazard lights button to warn the cars behind you. I picked up this little tactic in Europe but it is alive and well here in the UAE.


4. It turns out that you can use your signal in a roundabout to alert drivers to your exit intentions. I usually see this done by cars that aren't exiting when they're in an outside lane of the roundabout, or are exiting when they're in an inside lane. The blinking yellow signal works like an "FYI, I am about to be in your way." Beware these people...or adopt their ways and join them.

5. Realize that speed bumps can appear at anytime, on any road, in any form, without any warning. Constant vigilance is essential. One strategy is to always keep a car in sight in front of you, so you can look for the sudden appearance of brake lights (this works well at night when visibility is poor).

6. If you encounter a construction detour, you're on your own. The detour sign may lead you to believe that there will be arrows guiding you on an alternate route. This is a lie. (Or the arrows will be inaccurate/unclear.)

7. Get the maximum number of legally tintable windows on your car tinted to the maximum legal level. Keep a spare blanket in the car to cover up car seats so they don't get hot in the sun and burn your kids when you get back in. And don't get leather seats. Ouch.

8. Gas stations are full service, and often have very clean bathrooms and full-blown restaurants inside. Also, they call regular unleaded gasoline "Special" here. And it costs something like $1.50/gallon, mwahahahahahahaha.

9. The shopping center parking lot car washer guys charge 15 dirhams in Ajman, 20 dirhams in Sharjah, and 25+ dirhams in Dubai. Choose wisely.

Tomorrow, when our world changed

Happy Easter in the UAE