United Arab Emirates Road Network

By | December 24, 2022

The highways in the United Arab Emirates.

An example of the very large-scale road infrastructure.

According to wholevehicles, the United Arab Emirates has an extensive network of roads, especially around Dubai and Abu Dhabi there is an extensive network of highways that are often wide, with 2×4 to 2×6 lanes, occasionally up to 2×8 lanes. Almost all places in the country are served by motorways. Besides the motorways there are quite a lot of dual carriageways with 2×2 to 2×3 lanes with roundabouts. The road network is most extensive in the north of the country, where there are many cities, industrial areas and new developments. There are fewer roads in the south, there are no significant cities to the south of Abu Dhabi and the country consists mainly of uninhabited desert. Roads here often lead to oil installations.

The main and longest highway in the United Arab Emirates is the E11, which runs along the entire coastline from the border with Saudi Arabia via Abu Dhabi and Dubai to the border with Oman. Along Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman there are two bypasses, the E311 and E611. The main east-west connections from Dubai are the E84 and E88 which lead to the east coast around Fujairah. From Abu Dhabi, the E20 and E22 form the main east-west routes to, among other things, the inland city of El Ain. The E44 and E66form routes from Dubai to the southeast.

The network of motorways is quantitatively very extensive. The highways are often wide, several highways have between 2×4 and 2×6 lanes, occasionally even 2×7 to 2×8 lanes. The road network is mainly built on quantity, and less on quality. For example, roads with 2×4 lanes sometimes cross each other via roundabouts and motorways are sometimes not yet completely grade separated. Very wide highways sometimes cross each other via cloverleaves.

However, many nodes are broadly designed, the stack shape is not found in the United Arab Emirates. Many nodes are cloverleaf or turbine nodes. Although the country has impressively wide highways, the interchanges are not as high as, for example, in the United States. Many connections to the underlying road network are also designed as junctions.

The secondary road network in urban areas consists of streets, often with two to four lanes in each direction. This is often built in a grid. Outside the cities they are mostly dual carriageways with 2×2 to 2×3 lanes, which often still have roundabouts. Intersections controlled by traffic lights are relatively rare outside the cities.

Motorways in the United Arab Emirates
E10 • E11 • E12 • E20 • E22 • E30 • E33 • E44 • E45 • E66 • E77 • E84 • E88 • E311 • E611

Toll roads

There is an electronic toll system in Dubai called Salik. This is a congestion charge that was introduced on July 1, 2007 to reduce extreme congestion. Originally there were only two toll plazas on the E11 (Sheikh Zayed Road) but later expanded to more roads.

Road numbering

Mashreq

The Mashreq route numbering is a system of international road numbers in a number of countries in the Middle East. The United Arab Emirates is also participating. It is comparable to the E-roads in Europe. Three routes partly run through the UAE, but are usually not (yet) signposted.

Emirates Routes

The Emirate Routes are a network of roads with the prefix “E” connecting all Emirates. The E11 is the main coastal road connecting most of the Emirates and major cities. Other numbers are two digits and have the same numbers, for example the E44 from Dubai to the border with Oman and the E66 from Dubai to El Ain. Three-digit E-roads also exist and have the last two digits of the main route. For example, the E311 and E611 are bypasses of the E11 around Dubai.

Emirates

Per Emirate there is a third layer of road numbering, where roads are prefixed with the Emirate, e.g. “D” for Dubai, “F” for Fujairah and “S” for routes in Sharjah. In Dubai, for example, even numbers run from west to east, and run up to the coast. Odd numbers run north-south and rise east. Three-digit numbers come from the two-digit numbers, with an extra number at the end, which is the reverse of the E-road numbering.

Signage

Signage in the United Arab Emirates is generally bilingual, in both Arabic and English. Because Arabic is read from right to left, portals have Arabic text on the right and English text on the left.

Motorways

Motorways have blue signs with white letters, which are fairly similar in layout to those in the Netherlands. The blue plates also have a white frame. The arrows point downwards and are the same as in the Netherlands. Exit numbers are indicated with riders on top of the sign, with the distance to the exit below in a white area with black lettering, along with a black arrow and the text “exit”. Road numbers are indicated with rather large shields. Some highways are so wide (7-8 lanes in each direction) that portals are no longer used. Road numbers do not appear on distance signs.

Non-motorways

Other roads have green signposts, with white letters. Brown surfaces are used for tourist destinations. The signage is often similar in layout to that of motorways.

Maximum speed

Since 2018, the speed limit on the E11 from Abu Dhabi to the Saudi border is 160 km/h.

Road safety

Road safety has improved significantly in the United Arab Emirates in recent years. In 2015, there were 675 road deaths, a number of 60 per 1 million inhabitants.

United Arab Emirates Road Network