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October 14, 2012 11:51 AM   Subscribe

Where can I rent a campervan/RV in Dubai for a road trip around Eastern Europe?

My friend and I are investigating a potential trip but are having trouble finding hire companies that offer collection of the campervan from Dubai instead of the US/UK, which is all I'm finding.

Has anyone dealt with this?
posted by ellieBOA to Travel & Transportation around Dubai, UAE (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Getting from Dubai to Eastern Europe seems logistically highly challenging (and a whole trip in itself.) Hiring one starting somewhere IN Eastern Europe may be easier and more accessible? Is Dubai a required part of this trip?
posted by gingerbeer at 11:58 AM on October 14, 2012

So you're looking for to rent an RV to go the 4000 km from Dubai to Istanbul through tourist- and RV-friendly places like Saudi Arabia, Iraq (or Iran!), Syria(!) to get to Turkey and Eastern Europe? Even if you do want to make this route, a Land Rover or other 4x4 vehicle might be better for the journey. I don't think there's an RV rental company (or even passenger car hire company) on the planet that would let you drive into countries under active military conflict. The one campervan company I found in the UAE will let you go to Oman with their vehicles.

If you're dead set on seeing the Middle East and Eastern Europe by RV it is most likely you'll need to buy one in Dubai and then sell it at the end of your trip in Eastern Europe. This is what a lot of travelers do with trucks/jeeps/Land Rovers in the Americas to go from Alaska to the tip of South America (an RV could never make the trip due to the nature of the roads). However, given the rarity and cost of campervans in Dubai you'll probably take a huge loss when you try and sell it in Europe.
posted by birdherder at 12:40 PM on October 14, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks Birdherder, it probably makes more sense to buy a campervan rather than rent one.
posted by ellieBOA at 12:42 PM on October 14, 2012

Can you maybe elaborate on why you want to drive through these countries? Otherwise, for the safety of you and your friend, I'd really advise flying out of Dubai and renting/buying a camper in Turkey. Not just because you're considering driving straight through several unstable regions, but because the road networks in these countries will very likely make this trip near impossible with this type of vehicle. Perhaps Syria had the infrastructure, but seeing as you definitely can't enter that country, you may not have any options.
posted by Patbon at 1:02 PM on October 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

This doesn't make a lot of sense to me. To start with, if the goal is Eastern Europe, why would you start further away than necessary? The closest city to Dubai in what I would think of as Eastern Europe is Burgas, Bulgaria, which is 2,500 miles from Dubai but only 1,800 miles from London. And, of course, depending on where your definition of Eastern Europe starts, the closest part to London is even closer.

Moving on, the minimum number of countries you pass through (assuming you are driving the RV) is UAE -> Saudi Arabia -> Iraq or Syria -> Turkey. Long stretches of this drive are through desert conditions, which are unforgiving if your vehicle breaks down. Drivers in the UAE and KSA in particular are renowned for driving like absolute lunatics. I was once driving ~120-130 km/h in the UAE to pass a bus, and was blown by on the centre median (inches from a concrete barrier) by a dude in a sports car like I was going still. There are camels on the road, which are hazardous like deer, except somebody may own them, exposing you to a punitive justice system.

But this is hypothetical, really. Your profile says you are a woman, and you say you will be travelling with a friend. If your friend is also a woman, neither of you are legally allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. If your friend is a man (and by calling him friend, I'm assuming neither brother nor husband), it is not legal for you to travel with him in Saudi Arabia. In any case, the fact that you can't legally travel in Saudi Arabia is also moot -- Saudi Arabia essentially doesn't issue tourist visas, and doesn't issue visas for independent travel. If you and your friends are both Muslims, you can get Hajj/Umrah visas, but that is a very different trip. If you're not familiar with Saudi culture, there are a number of landmines for you to step on culturally, from dress codes to going into the wrong side of the McDonald's to wearing nail polish. And I think I mentioned the punitive justice system.

And I haven't even gotten to Iraq (former war zone, current terrorism hotspot, travel not recommended except to Iraqi Kurdistan), or Syria (active shooting-people-in-the-streets war zone, the UK has shut down its' embassy for safety reasons, official warning is get-the-fuck-out-of-Dodge).

You could probably find RV rental places in Croatia or Greece or Turkey, and start from there. If you want a Middle Eastern trip, start from Dubai and go to Oman, which is much more tolerant and frankly nicer than Saudi Arabia.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:29 PM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you are a woman, you will not be able to transit Saudi Arabia. In fact, Saudi doesn't offer tourist visas so even if you were a man you would not be able to do so.
posted by atrazine at 9:31 PM on October 14, 2012

If you do want to go from Dubai to Europe by RV, then the best thing to do is to take a ferry across the Gulf to Iran, drive North and then into Turkey. Make sure that you have all the correct documents to cross international borders with your vehicles. You may need a carnet to bring it across borders without paying import duties.

Gulf Coast RVs are the largest dealer here (full disclosure, they're a former client of mine). You will have to buy rather than rent, I'm afraid. I recommend that you buy a model that is also available in Europe so that you can re-sell it. Look around on, and the classified sections of local newspapers to see if you can buy something used. You're probably more likely to find a caravan used than a campervan/RV as those are quite unusual here. Caravans on Dubizzle.

It may make more sense to buy a car + campervan here in Dubai and either sell both at the other end or keep the car. Depending on how long you'll be travelling that may make sense because car sales are not taxed here. Alternatively, you could ship a car you already own from Europe here, that will cost a few thousand dollars.

I'll assume that you're sufficiently familiar with driving and field maintaining large vehicles over rough roads and with the characteristics of traffic in places like Iran and Turkey to know what you're doing.
posted by atrazine at 9:51 PM on October 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

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