In most countries, you would buy a car magazine if you want to see a wide range of the latest luxury and sports vehicles. In Dubai, you would just head down to the nearest car park. Mercedes, BMWs, Lexuses and Porsches are commonplace. Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Masteratis, Maybachs and Bentleys are also popular in certain areas of town. The popularity of these cars comes down to their price. They are significantly cheaper than they are anywhere else and many car enthusiasts just can’t resist.
The most popular vehicles are gas-guzzling SUVs. Relatively cheap gas prices combined with a desire for protection against aggressive driving lead most people to overcome any reservations they may have about owning such environmentally unfriendly vehicles.
You can only buy a car once you have a residence visa and a UAE driving license. Until then, your only option is to hire a car.
Buying a new car
Most of the car showrooms can be found along Sheikh Zayed Road. Although this is convenient for car shopping, it may leave you somewhat spoiled for choice.
The main showrooms are:
- AGMC for BMW
- Al Futtaim Motors for Toyota and Lexus
- Al Jazira Motors for Lamborghinis
- Al Nabooda Motors for Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen
- Al Tayer Motors for Ferrari, Ford, Jaguar, Lincoln, Maserati and Range Rover
- Arabian Automobiles for Nissan
- Gargash Enterprises for Mercedes-Benz
- Juma Al Majid for Hyundai
- Trading Enterprises for Jeep, Honda, Chrysler, Volvo and Dodge
Car loans are readily available on new cars and the dealership where you buy the car will do a lot of the legwork, for a commission, to help you arrange a good deal. Repayment periods are up to five years. The car showroom can also help you arrange insurance for the vehicle. You will need to have insurance coverage before you can register the vehicle in your name.
Buying a second-hand car
Before you buy a second-hand, it is important to do your homework. Look through the classifieds in car magazines, websites and newspapers, so that you have an idea of the market, prices and availability. When you are ready to buy, there are several other points to keep in mind. Firstly, you should bear in mind that many of Dubai’s cars have been in shunts or accidents at some point in their lives. If you are buying from a private individual, it is a good idea to have the car inspected by an independent specialist. Secondly, you should check that the car is built to regional specifications. Cars in the Gulf have different air conditioning and engine cooling systems to cope with the climate. If the car you are interested in has been imported from outside the Gulf, it may need to be upgraded. Thirdly, if you buying from a dealer, try and check out their reputation and insist on an independent check-up if you are at all worried. Most reputable dealers will give you a warranty on the car.
Newspapers and magazines with classified ads for second-hand cars:
- Gulf News Classified Section (AED 2, daily) http://www.gnads4u.com
- Auto Trader (AED 5, weekly) http://www.autotraderuae.com/
- Wheels (free, weekly)
Online websites for second-hand cars from dealers and/or private individuals:
- http://www.autodealer.ae – one of the largest sites for used cars.
- http://www.automalluae.com – Al Futtaim motors used car site.
- http://www.dubizzle.com – popular online classified ads website with a large used car section
- http://motors.souq.com – the used car section of the popular UAE online auction site
Used car dealers:
You should be wary of buying cars from even the largest and best-known of used car dealers as most have the same reputation that used car dealers have in most other cities in the world. Having said that, good cars at great prices can be found.
- 4×4 Motors, Al Garhoud – – one of the largest dealers in the city
- House Motors, Sheikh Zayed Road – specializing in luxury used cars.
- House of Cars, Sheikh Zayed Road– specializing in luxury used cars (http://www.houseofcarsgroup.com)
- Off Road Motors, Sheikh Zayed Road – one of the largest used car dealers
Supermarket notice boards:
Spinney’s, Choithrams and Park ‘n’ Shop all have notice boards with cars advertised by private individuals. These are typically from other expats.
Registering new and second hand cars
In order to legally drive your car, it must be registered in your name. If you are buying a new or used car from a dealer, they will usually do this for you. However, if you are buying from a private seller, you will have to do this yourself. You and the seller of the vehicle have to visit a police testing and registration center. The largest and best known service is available at the traffic department, located on the desert side of Sheikh Zayed Road just before you come to the Mall of the Emirates. You can find a list of other centers on the Dubai police website at http://www.dubaipolice.gov.ae/dp/english/e_services.jsp?Page=A26&Id=1954&num2=NWS&num=NWS&mainlayid=195. These centers operate on a first come first served basis. As you cannot book an appointment, you should be prepared to wait. The license plates stay with the car and thus, do not need to be changed.
You will need:
- a copy of your passport with a valid residence visa
- your UAE driving license
- a letter from your employer confirming that you work for them
- one year’s insurance cover (see the section about car insurance for details)
The seller needs:
- the vehicle registration card
- a copy of their passport with a valid residence visa
- to pay any outstanding fines