Understanding Dubai Road Signs

If you are a stranger to Dubai and have yet little proficiency with the language, you have to brush up on the meanings of Dubai road signs. Ignorance of the language or the law is no excuse for not following the road signs if you are driving in Dubai, or anywhere else in the UAE. It is not only because you want to avoid fines and penalties. Road signs are there to make the roads safer for everyone, including drivers, commuters, and pedestrians. Following them is simply the easiest way to get to your destination without mishap, especially in Dubai where traffic is getting worse, and the roads are becoming more complex.

The great thing about road signs is they provide clear pictorial guidelines for traffic flow regulation. You don’t have to be fluent in the language to understand them, as long as you’ve taken the trouble to learn them. Most are familiar to anyone that drives in the US or the UK, although some are peculiar to the UAE. To take guesswork out of the equation, here are some of the most common ones you will encounter in the Dubai. You will typically find them in a prominent position by the side of a public road, or overhead on footbridges far enough away to give you time to take the necessary precautions.

Control Signs

These signs show you the right of way or the direction of travel. For instance, if you are new to the area, you may not know that a particular street is a one way, so you may see a no-entry sign, which means cars can only go out but not in. Here are some of the most common control signs:

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Warning Signs

On the other hand, warning signs are there to alert drivers about the potential for danger or hazards. Some roads, for instance, will start with two lanes on each side, but narrows at a certain point to one lane, which means your road may disappear entirely and you should be ready to merge. You will see three types of warning signs : advanced warning, hazard marker, and diagrammatic. Familiar road signs in this category include Give Way, Maximum Headroom, Roundabout, Pedestrian Crossing, Road Curves, Road Narrows, T Intersection, Slippery Road, Steep Hill, U-Turn, and Road Works Ahead. These signs exist so you will know what to do in the next few seconds so that you will not be caught unawares and get into trouble. These are especially important if you are driving in unfamiliar territory, and don’t know what to expect.

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Mandatory signs

Some signs indicate actions drivers must do when they are on a certain road. The purpose is to ensure that all drivers sharing the road are on the same page. For example, if there is a roundabout ahead, you know that you have to travel in a counter clockwise direction. If you see a sign with two speed numbers, you know that the lower number is the minimum travel speed. Here are some samples of mandatory signs:

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Prohibitory Signs

As you can probably deduce, prohibitory signs indicate what actions you cannot take on a certain road. In most cases, a prohibitory sign in enclosed in a red circle. If you see a no left sign, then you know you have to go to the next corner, make a U-turn, and then turn right. That is, unless there is a no U-turn sign at the next intersection, or there is a no-entry sign on the street you want to enter. Below are some common prohibitory signs you need to know:

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Note: “Qualification Plate” means there may be special circumstances in which the prohibition applies, such as only at certain times of the day, or only for certain types of vehicles i.e, trucks.

Parking Control Signs

Parking is becoming a problem in many parts of Dubai and the UAE, which makes these types of signs important. It tells you where you can park and where. If the sign says no stopping, it means you can’t stop the car in certain part of the road even if you are behind the wheel. Ignore these rule at your own risk.

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Handicapped Parking

Pay particular attention to signs in blue, which typically means it is parking for people with handicaps or special needs. In most cases, you will have to get a permit to park in areas marked “Parking area for handicapped drivers only.” You must display this in a prominent area on the windshield

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Here are other traffic signs you may encounter in Dubai and other areas in the UAE.

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