Automotive Travel

Kuwait to Dubai and Abu Dhabi by Car – Everything You Need to Know

On Thursday morning I headed to Dubai in my car for the weekend and just got back last night. I had a few things I needed to do on this trip, first thing was to stop at Abu Dhabi since I have a car being restored there and I needed to check on it and take it out for a test drive. Then I needed to head to Dubai because I had some things I needed to install on my car at Arctic Trucks (Mountain Top roll cover and sports bar, and Rival4X4 skid plates). Finally, on my way back I also needed to stop over in Khobar for work.

Kuwait to Dubai is a very doable trip. Its long, and it’s not something I’d do often, but it would be something I’d be willing to do if I needed to get something from Dubai which we don’t have in Kuwait. Like a couch or something, I don’t know, I just like the idea that if I found something in Dubai that I can’t ship to Kuwait or bring back on a plane with me, then I can just drive there pick it up and come back.

So here is everything you need to know in case you want to do the same trip. This also applies to driving to Qatar since you drive by the Qatari border on the way to the UAE one.

Trip Duration
I left my place in Salmiya at around 6AM, and got to my hotel in Abu Dhabi by 6PM Dubai time (5PM Kuwait time). The trip took exactly 11 hours including stopping for breakfast, a few photoshoot stops, and all the border crossings. If you’re heading to Dubai directly just add another hour on to the trip.

Google Maps
Trusting Google Maps will take you on the best route is not the best idea in the world but it’s something we do. At one part of the trip it made me exit the main highway and go through a tiny road where I swear I read a sign that said for use by ARAMCO contractors only. I wasn’t sure if 30 minutes later I’d end up at a security gate and have to turn back, I just hoped I’d end up back on the main road eventually. It did take me back to the main road but this brings up an important thing which is my trip could be different from yours. Yesterday coming back from Khobar Google sent me on a different and nicer road than my last trip back so just be aware of that.

Kuwait to the UAE Borders
I’ve already covered driving through Saudi in my previous post and the same rules apply here again. The Saudi leg of the journey although long actually passed by really quickly. The thing about driving in Saudi is the roads and scenery change very frequently. There isn’t just one straight highway from here to UAE and so the journey feels a lot more interesting since you drive through a variety of terrain and road types. You could be on a highway for 30 minutes, then a back road for 30 minutes, then driving through a coastal town for an hour, then through sand dunes for another hour, etc. The only issue I faced on this trip was the lack of fuel stations.

I think I counted 8 fuel stations that were open from Kuwait to the UAE borders, and that’s including both sides of the highway. This was the only thing that made me anxious on the way because I didn’t know if I’d find a gas station on the road ahead or not. Google Maps isn’t helpful and at one point when I needed fuel I used Google Maps to find one in a village I was driving by and Google Maps took me to a gas station under construction, and then another gas station that turned out to be a garage. So in case you need them, here are some fuel stations where I filled up at:

First stop after the Saudi borders. There is a McDonalds there so you can also have breakfast:

Second station I filled at. This was in a village when I wasn’t sure if I’d find another station on the highway ahead (turns out there was):

This is to where you should fill up instead of the village station I mentioned above:

For my third stop I used this station. It’s located on the other side of the road but it’s easy to U-turn to and get to. It’s located in a beach town called Salwa and it’s near the Qatar border:

Last station before UAE border. You should fill up here before crossing into the UAE.

So basically there were around 4 fuel stations on the way to the UAE with the rest all closed down, abandoned or located in villages and towns out of your way.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, you need to drive by the Qatar border to get to UAE. At one point you’ll get to a roundabout where if you go straight you get to the Qatar border, or if you turn right you head towards UAE. Because I didn’t cross into Qatar and experience the trip to Doha, I didn’t make this a Qatar guide as well.

UAE Border
Once I got to the UAE border the process was fairly easy at the Saudi side. It was just me and another car crossing at that time. The guy at the window didn’t even take my passport, I had opened my passport to the visa number page and held it out of the window to give it to him and he just looked at the number and typed it out on the computer and handed me a slip. The UAE side of the border was super nice, multiple lanes and looks like a proper border. I had to drive through an X-ray machine first before arriving to passport control. Even though I usually use the eGate when I arrive to Dubai, after giving the border guy my passport he told me I needed to drive around to the immigration building and get my passport stamped there. It wasn’t busy so the process there was also fast, I filled up a paper and had my iris scanned and then got the passport stamped. I got back into my car and then drove through the border. I had to get car insurance before leaving the border, the minimum duration was 2 weeks and it cost 210AED.

UAE Border to Abu Dhabi
As soon as you get into UAE you’re suddenly on a proper 3 lane highway with a speed limit of 160KM/h. The fuel stations on this road are also a lot nicer than Saudi, and the convenience stores and bathrooms at the stations are proper. I stopped at the first one to fill up and get a sandwich and coffee for the remaining leg of the trip. This was actually my least favorite part of the whole trip. It was around 3 hours of driving in a straight line going 160km/h with the exact same scenery. It was super boring.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai Toll Gates
So this is something I was hoping to work out but couldn’t really do it properly. So Abu Dhabi has toll gates on the road called DARB. I couldn’t figure out how to get it working with my Kuwaiti license plates and I need to check and see if I have any tolls so I can pay them before I get at fine. In Dubai they use Salik and I picked up a Salik tag with 100aed on it from a gas station on my way to Dubai. I couldn’t get it set up. Firstly I couldn’t access the Salik website using my phone data (you can’t use the App btw if foreign plates). Then when I did access the website using a shops wifi, it wouldn’t send me the OTP to my phone to verify. Luckily Google Maps has an option to avoid roads with tolls and I used that. Next day I set up Salik with my friends phone number who lives in Dubai and it worked. But it also told him that it would take up to 5 days to activate. They then called him this morning because they needed my car chassis number, he gave them my number and they spoke to me while I was typing this post up. My Salik is now active and any toll gates I passed under while I was in Dubai will now be deducted from my Salik account.

The best option to keep things simple is tell Google Maps not to use roads with tolls.

UAE to Kuwait
On the trip back to Kuwait I stopped in Khobar. I was meant to spend the night there but I ended up arriving quicker than I expected and once my meeting finished I realized I could make it to the Kuwait borders by 6PM (when there would still be some light). On the way back I left Dubai at 6:20AM (so 5:20AM Kuwait time). I headed to Khobar first, took the scenic route and stopped a few times for photos. I got to Khobar at 1:40PM (so 2:40PM Dubai Time). I was done with my meeting by 2:50 and figured if I skipped lunch and stopped for fuel only once I could make it to the Kuwait borders by 6PM. You do not want to drive on Saudi roads in the dark. I crossed the borders by 5:53PM. What sucked was that Google this time took me through a very scenic seaside road back to Kuwait and I couldn’t stop to take pictures because of my schedule.

Cost Breakdown
Here is the cost for the journey that includes my fuel stops and car insurance:

138SAR – Saudi car Insurance
78SAR first fuel stop
95SAR second fuel stop
50SAR third fuel stop
53SAR forth fuel stop

210AED – UAE car Insurance
155AED – fuel stop

on the way back:

190AED first fuel stop
113AED second fuel stop
145AED third fuel stop
37AED forth fuel stop

61SAR first fuel stop
111SAR second fuel stop
65SAR last fuel stop

I liked the trip and I didn’t find it really that exhausting. I’m not sure how many speeding tickets I got on this trip. On the UAE road where the speed limit was 160KM/h, I got flashed twice going 155KM/h. I was on cruise control and Waze was saying 155, and my car speedometer was saying 155 and I still got flashed, but only on by two cameras. I’m hoping those were just average-speed cameras that take photos of every car, I hope. Then in Saudi, the speed limit is mostly 120 so I would drive under 140. I’d pass by 20 cameras with no issues and then one would randomly flash me. No idea whats going on there. But, I did get flashed at one point for going over 140 but that was my mistake since I didn’t have it on cruise control and didn’t notice my speed.

Hopefully this guide is helpful in case you want to make this trip. I might have missed something or not covered a subject so if you have a specific question, let me know in the comments.

92 replies on “Kuwait to Dubai and Abu Dhabi by Car – Everything You Need to Know”

1- there are no lights
2- during the day people drive like crazy, at night has to be worse
3- more than once saw a stray dog cross the road
4- camels might cross the road
5- more than once avoided random obstacles on the road
6- harder to spot the speed cameras

Mostly its a safety thing.

Visa is free for GCC residents in Bahrain, pay only the fees for using the causeway and car insurance. I just did my trip last week from Kuwait to Bahrain and back. Super enjoyed. Driving night time in Saudi is like riding with MadMax group.. some will enjoy it. But the best thing is to avoid it. 😁

In Saudi, you drive through a variety of terrain and road types. Do you think a Mustang can do the trip from Kuwait to these other GCC countries or not recommended and use a 4×4?

Was not too sure since you said highway, back road, coastal town then through sand dunes, etc. How about driving without front end paint protection?

sorry I meant driving on roads that had sand dunes on both sides.

You can drive without front protection, but if you get caught out in a sand storm you’re gonna get your lights, windshield and front hood sand blasted.

I had done a trip to baharain 2 weeks back. Honestly I wouldn’t find a sedan let alone a sports car comfortable for the trip.
On my way back I did meet a guy with a stang shelby at the fuel station in jubail. He too was heading back home to kuwait. I remember asking him how he felt the journey was. He said he had to get the stang from dubai hence he drove that. If not he would never drive the journey. Because of the suspension and harsh drive.
There are several segments of saudi roads under construction for 10km stretches. The bumps on and off that too get harsh.

I go to riyadh often with my sports sedan which is also lowered a little. Not an issue but you also need to pay attention to the road and be careful. tbh when i’m back in Kuwait is when my car starts to cry from the roads lol

1) Is there any separate permit required from kuwait traffic dept to bring car in another country??
2) Can expat drive in saudi, qatar.abu dhabi with kuwait’s car and kuwait’s driving license???is there any separate permission required???

I don’t think you or he needs to worry. There are many cameras in UAE, especially Abu Dhabi, that take photos of every car. They are checking the car is insured and registered correctly and that you’re not on a mobile and are wearing a seat belt.

Highly informative. A question: Since you have to buy separate insurances for Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is there an insurance product that covers all Gulf countries, which may be cheaper? Do local insurances cover a car breakdown to provide roadside assistance?

Thanks for the detailed explanation Mark!

I am yet to see someone doing a motorcycle ride to Saudi and back haha (Expat’s that is).

I’m thinking of doing a trip. Currently hunting for a good gs 1200 or 1250 . Once I get that.
But I am pretty sure the experience would be just the same as the car

the camera hat got you is probably the two before Dammam where the speed limit drops to 100 km/h, if you figure out how to pay your car violations let me know, because i got caught several times in probably March or April yet when I travelled two weekends ago i didnt get any comments on the border.

p.s you missed some really good camel meat

Hey mark, I went to dubai earlier in the summer and did not register for salik as I was told Kuwaiti plates they don’t care.
Why did you do it? Precaution or did something change recently?

Not sure who told you they don’t care. If you have GCC plates you need to sign up for Salik or else you pay a fine. That’s according to Salik. If you go to activate a tag on the Salik website you’ll see the option for foreign plates and Kuwait listed as one of the countries.

Great Trip. Did you have to present proof of car ownership during any border crossings? Also, would they take credit cards on those gas stations?

It’s a nice trip. I live in Kuwait since 2006. I did it many times since 2010 to Qatar and UAE and I’m still
doing it. Now it is very easy, but back in the days it was a hell on the borders (especially in Salwa, on the KSA-Qatar border) and I have to request the visa always from the embassy (I’m from Hungary). I love this trip, I do very often. First few times I made it with my manual tranny cammed Camaro, man that was fun. We always had street racing if I come morning near to Khafji lol. Good old days…

Right night I’m in Dubai. I just came an hour ago. No need to pass Qatar border. Just Kuwait-KSA then KSA-UAE. Roads are good now. I came with a Cayenne S so trust me the suspension in stiff as hell but still it was comfortable. Took me 14 hours with few pee a fuleing stops.

Is kuwait allowing to go expat to saudi in own car.
What document we need to keep with us and from where we can make that.

Car insurance is not mandatory at KSA border , did multiple trips to KSA without insurance. Just avoid going in insurance lane at immigration.

Please don’t spread false information, it IS mandatory. You need to have insurance to drive in KSA. Just because you aren’t getting one and haven’t been stopped by a cop or gotten into an accident, doesn’t mean it’s not mandatory. It’s like driving in Kuwait, you NEED to have insurance.

Over 10 years ago i did the same drive & it was much worse then. Back then it took 15 hrs each way but that was before many of the new roads today existed. Personally, i would never do that drive again. Going thru Saudi was stressful as locals cant drive & long flat boring roads with nothing to see. I agree with you once you enter UAE its a long boring drive as well but at least your in a more civilized country. Back then, today i hear its different.

I’ve read so many comments about bad drivers in saudi. Strangely I think I was lucky as on my way there and back I didn’t have any issues.

“At one part of the trip it made me exit the main highway and go through a tiny road where I swear I read a sign that said for use by ARAMCO contractors only. I wasn’t sure if 30 minutes later I’d end up at a security gate and have to turn back, I just hoped I’d end up back on the main road eventually”.

Lmao Google took me down that same Aramco service road while I was driving on my way back from Oman a ew years ago. It was like 2 after midnight driving back home alone.

Is it possible to go friends in a private car. If all of them has saudi visa and car is in the name of one of the passenger. How many person can go in single car

How did you apply for UAE visa. I saw some links for UAE visa for GCC residents. Do we need to apply prior to travel or we can get upon arrival? Thanks

What is a GCC visa? I don’t think it exists.

Are you planning to go to UAE? If yes you need a UAE visa.

Some of the questions here are really bizarre. Isn’t it common knowledge that you require a visa for the country you are going to? A multiple entry Saudi visa has nothing to do with UAE.

Hi Mark,
How many restaurants did you find on your way to UAE and back to Kuwait ?
only fast food or any local restaurants r available ?

I am a UAE resident. Will I be able to drive to Kuwait? What about my exit and entry twice through Saudi border? Are they issuing visa on arrival?

i lived in UAE for 6 years between 2010 to 2015 and i had my kuwaiti car there the whole time.
first month i used salik. then someone told me GCC cars don’t need it.
i stopped recharging for salik since 2010 and every time i visit dubai always go through salik gates since it will be shorter distance.

never ever had a salek FINE. never.
only speed and parking Fines.

so i agree with the others who say Salek only apply for UAE cars not visitors cars.

p.s.: i think the reason is to boost tourism with visitors with cars from nearby countries.

I’m just stating what Salik told me over the phone and their website. If people want to take the risk and not pay 4aed to use Salik and risk getting fined a few hundred dirhams that’s up to them.

I would like to know your experience on using Google Map and Waze.

I started using Waze recently and would like to know which one is better especially while traveling to KSA, Bahrain, UAE or Oman.

i used waze from kuwait to riyadh and back several times and it was good have all roads names and almost all gas stations i.e google maps as in kuwait have much more data about markets and restaurants , but i was already know my way so i enter my stops regularly between cities cuz that the route i preferred than the suggested route.
not waze neither google have the road speed limits and cameras data in the map.

hi bro how r u ?

i am Pakistan national and i live in Kuwait and i wanna go to abu dhabi by road. could u guide me how can i apply visa for uae and how much cost or visa on boarder for pakistani.

furthermore kindly guide me that uae evisa is same can used to enter abu dhabi by raod or i need to get something special approval by uae.

kindly give me all details for getting UAE visa and saudia VIsa and everything which are good for me.

Thank u.

Hi Mark,
Thank you very much for taking time and sharing this information with us.
Just a question I’m planing to buy a car in Kuwait then drive over to Dubai (I’m resident in dubai), do you have any information what documents I need to drive over with a car purchased in Kuwait?

Thank you.

Hi @Mark,
as per the map i can see from Road 5 you have taken 6448 towards the west and, then road 615 which joins back had taken a longer route instead of straight -road 5. On the map when we zoom in we can see road 5 but not with much things on the way. Is it not advisable to take road 5? What do you suggest?

I was referring to the map added in your post. It shows the route via Al Hafuf. When you give the destinations on the google map you will see the road 5 going straight down south..

Hi, when you start your journey you just follow signboards its much better. because i went bahrain by car its amazing experience. and we just follow signboards yes sometime we used Google map. Now we have plan on HALA February for UAE trip. and we just confuse for UAE Visa its visa on arrival or we need to obtain before start journey.

Eligible Passport holders and Indian Nationals with US/UK/Schengen Visa / UK Residence permit can get Visa on arrival to UAE. However, not sure if Visa on Arrival applies at Land Borders aswell

hi, thanks for your information. one more thing i need to know about Dubai visa. Is Dubai visa is on arrival for Kuwait resident or we need apply before start journey???

Hi Mark, what is your opinion on driving in the summer? According to you, is it a doable drive to Dubai in the hot summer? Awaiting inputs.. Thanks

Hey guys,
Is kuwait sim network works in saudi & Uae
Kindly suggest and what package is applicable. Ooredoo

One more thing please..Altima is fine to we need any car protection..if yes then where can i find ?

Hi Mark
How did you go about getting your transit visa for Saudi?
I’m sure it’s much simpler that I’m experiencing.

Hi Mark,
My wife and I are Indian Nationals and have a valid USA visa. We are planning to drive to Dubai. Will be get UAE visa on arrival at the land border same like the airport? Thank you

I am planing a trip to Dubai (with family) from Kuwait by car by February 2024, If any one would like to join with us with their own vechile please contact me 66518615

Where can i apply for visa for U.A.E the Dubai GCC permit or do i have to issue a visa from Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *