UPDATE: U drive is now available by-the-minute, head here for the latest.

Remember udrive? It burst into town in March, offering pay-per-minute cars to be driven around Dubai at a cost of just 50 fils per minute.

Well, it all went a bit quiet after hitting a regulations roadblock that meant it had to offer its service on a daily basis only (the rental was Dhs99 per day). 

“The previously offered service per-minute car rental scheme is currently put on hold until certain logistical, regulatory, and administrative issues are resolved,” the company explained on its website. “We are working very closely with the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) to offer this service in a way that is compatible with the rules and regulations governing car-rental activity in Dubai.”


Well, it looks like it’s about to come back: on Tuesday afternoon, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, issued a resolution that will allow people to rent cars by the hour (we’re still not sure if that means they can be rented by the minute, but we’ll let you know as soon as it’s clarified).

They decided to allow the system “to provide low-cost public transportation solutions that meet the needs of people in Dubai,” according to a statement put out by Sheikh Hamdan.

According to the RTA the new rules mean the vehicle mustn’t be rented out for more than six hours in a day, and that the car mustn’t be taken outside the UAE. 

The person renting the vehicle must have a valid driving license, and the company renting out the vehicle must obtain a special permit from the RTA.

Mattar Al Tayer, the Director General of the RTA, said the hourly leasing service was approved because it will help reduce private car ownership and will be particularly handy for people who want to drive to and from metro, bus and tram stations.  This means people can do the majority of their commuting on public transport, and then complete the final short leg in a car (ultimately reducing traffic).

Again, how this will work with services like uDrive hasn’t been 100 per cent ironed out yet, but we’ll keep you updated.


The new regulations will probably take a time to filter down to uDrive and it may alter its service (we’ll keep you updated), but here’s what the inital offering was…

How does it work? Well you download an app, pay a Dhs20 monthly membership fee and then book cars near you via the app. You can then open the cars with your phone (ah, technology). Once in the car you’ll find the key in the glove box, after you ‘unlock’ the key with a pin code sent to your app, the charge of 50 fils per minute starts. The charge stops when you’ve parked and the key is locked up again.

udriveBooking the car

The fee of 50 fils per minute adds up to be Dhs30 an hour, but after four hours you’re no longer charged anything for the rest of the day, meaning you can rent the car for 24 hours for Dhs120.

*READ MORE: Price of Dubai taxis go up*

Someone who has tried the service says a trip from JLT to Mall of the Emirates cost them just Dhs8 – although, because it’s by the minute, this is obviously very traffic dependent.

There’s a similar service in London, Go Drive, that costs 89 fils per minute.

udrive-story-pinUnlocking the key 

The by-the-minute Dubai rental cars are all Toyota Yaris models, and while the company currently only has 50 cars (meaning they’re quite scarce on the ground), they’ve just put in an order for another 150. So there will be 200 on Dubai’s roads within weeks. The company then hopes to continue growing their car fleet “significantly”. So, hopefully, by the time the scorching summer sun is out in full force, you’ll be able to find a car very close to you whenever you need it.

There’s one catch however, there are still two places in Dubai where you can’t park the cars – Dubai Media City and Deira Fish Market. So if you work near either of these, you’ll have to go further afield to find your car, and then you’ll have to park it elsewhere before you finish your rental period.

*GOOD NEWS: Soon half of all Dubai taxis will be hybrids*

What about other emirates? Well, you could rent the car for the whole day and drive it to any emirate, but you’d have to pay for parking while in the other emirate and continue to ‘rent’ the car, as it can’t be ‘dropped off’ until it’s in an area that udrive has an agreement to park in. Also, if you rent the car for 24 hours there’s a cap of 150km free – and you’ll then have to pay 25 fils a kilometre after that.

Also, if you often don’t have data, don’t worry, because you can buy an optional membership card for Dhs50 that can also be used to open the car. You can use this when you’ve got no 3G juice on your phone.

As you get into the car you rate its cleanliness, and check for any damage. If there’s a problem with the car, one of the 20-or-so-strong service team will come out and see to the issues.

And what about if the car’s low on petrol? There’s a VIP sticker by the petrol tank that means you can fill up at any ENOC or EPPCO station while driving the car for free. Just don’t try and do so in another brand of station, as you’ll have to pay. Because udrive know that filling up will take time, they’ll reward your account with a free 20 minute drive if you ever fill up a tank.

urdrive-story-petrolThe VIP sticker means you can fill up petrol for free at any ENOC or EPCO. 

Here are some of the costs involved…

– Per minute charge of 50 fils (this includes fuel, and public parking charges – except for in Dubai Media City and Deira Fish Market). This means it’s Dhs30 an hour, and after four hours you’re no longer charged for that day, so a full 24 hour rental is just Dhs120.

 Dhs20 per month compulsory membership fee  

– Traffic fines – you have to pay for the actual cost of the fine, plus Dhs50.

– If you get in an accident and get a white police report, you pay nothing. If you get a red police report you have to pay an excess of Dhs1,500.

udrive-storyA portion of the fleet 

What about signing up?

– Download the app from Google Play or Apple App Store, then click register now. A browser window will then pop up where you’ll need to upload your driver’s license and Emirates ID. You’ll also have to input the expiry date etc. of your Emirates ID and License (we were a bit tripped up when it asked for the issue date of our Emirates ID as it’s not written on the card, but just count back the years to figure out what it is).

– You’ll then get sent an email to put in your payment details, et voila, you’ve soon got an account and can straight away reserve a car. Once you reserve the car via the app you’ve got 15 minutes to get to it before your reservation is cancelled. If you need to reserve a car in advance call 800-837483 to book.

– For more on the car service visit udrive.ae.

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