Buying a New Car in Dubai as an Expat

Last Updated on May 14, 2024 by Jamie Marshall

Owning a car in Dubai is a must as the public transport system, even though continually developing, is still limited. Car prices in Dubai are cheaper than those in the UK or the US with the added advantage of living in an oil-rich country in which petrol is highly subsidized and vehicle maintenance is typically more affordable.

Therefore, most expats who own cars here can usually afford to get more exotic models than those they would opt for at home. Whether you choose to buy a sensible ride or prefer to ride in style, owning a car in Dubai is the most convenient means of getting around.

Which car to buy?

The answer to this question is a personal one and will vary greatly from person to person, income levels, reason(s) for buying a car as well as lifestyle.

In Dubai 4x4s are very popular and it is common to see tons of them on the roads. Many people who own SUVs will swear by them and insist this is the best type of car for driving on UAE roads. They have a higher driving position, are safer in the unfortunate event of a crash, are perfect for driving in sand which is ubiquitous in a desert country and are ideal for beach or desert camping where you can load your car and set off on your adventure.

On the flip side, they are cumbersome to park, use a lot more petrol than a sedan, take a longer time to stop (especially in high speeds) and the higher driving position requires extra care when backing up particularly in residential neighborhoods or in school car parks.

Sedans, on the other hand, although more compact, contribute equally to Dubai’s flamboyant car culture. If you’re going for a regular car, you have the option of going for something ‘wild’ that you may never dream of back home. If you have that extra bit of cash, the options are unlimited: you could go for the awesomely powerful Dodge Charger, the flamboyant Ford Mustang, a beautiful Mercedes coupe or the incredibly fast Corvette – the list is endless.

Things to consider before buying your new car

If you opt for a new set of wheels, here are some things to think about before going out and buying the car of your dreams:

  • Resale value: The reputation of a car in the local market can greatly affect the re-sale value of a car. Considering that most expats tend to change their cars several times during their stay in Dubai, this is an important consideration. The bigger and better known car companies in Dubai such as Honda, Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Ford and Porsche tend to hold their value over a period of time and will usually re-sell for a competitive price. Cheaper but lesser known Korean makes such as Kia and Hyundai will usually depreciate much faster as will some European makes such as Renault.

  • Shop around for good deals: Although the more coveted brands are pricier, most car dealers can be persuaded to give buyers a good deal which includes a service warranty period (you will see a lot of deals like 3 years or 100,000 km worth of servicing) as well as insurance coverage for at least a year if not more. There are plenty of dealers in Dubai and you are sure to find a promotion or offer on something you like or is close to what you are looking for.

  • Go for a slightly older model: On some cars, even the more popular brands, buying a slightly older model can fetch you a great deal compared to the newest one coming out. Look around for unsold one year old models especially around the time that the newer models are slated to come out. At this time, dealers are anxious to get rid of their older stock to make way for newer cars so you might end up with a better deal on a slightly older new car.
  • Car dealers: The Sole Agency law in the UAE stipulates that there can be only one dealer per car manufacturer so if you have your heart set on a particular model, keep in mind that you will be stuck with that dealership for any servicing issues if your warranty is to remain valid. You may choose to get your car serviced elsewhere but this will negate the warranty. The above mentioned law applies to individual emirates so different emirates might have different dealerships for the varied automobile manufacturers.

  • Financing for your car: If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford a new car on a cash down payment then you can skip this section, but for most of us, getting a loan is the only way to buy the car we’ve always dreamed of owning. There are two types of loans: a bank loan means that the bank owns the car until the loan is paid off and you cannot sell the car unless you pay off the loan. A personal loan means you own the car; personal loans typically incur higher interest rates than car loans which can be obtained through some car dealerships that work with specific banks to offer help for financing. Your own bank might offer you a better loan option so do a little homework on your financing options.

Documents required to buy a car

Documents required to purchase a car in Dubai are a valid driving license, UAE residence visa, passport and valid insurance documents. If the car is financed through the bank or a loan company, a salary certificate or a letter from your employer as well as previous bank statements may also be required.

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