Salik Road Toll in Dubai, UAE
"Reports about the road tolls in Dubai are baseless as there are no immediate plans to impose tolls either on internal roads in Dubai or highways connecting other emirates," Maitha Mohammad Bin Udai, Chief Executive Officer of the Traffic and Roads Agency at the RTA, said in a statement issued yesterday - Gulf News 14 September 2006. Less than a year later, on 01 July 2007, the Salik road toll system was launched in Dubai.
RTA Salik Services Offices
- Abu Dhabi
- Al Ain - opening announced 09 August 2012
- Ras Al Khaimah
List of Salik toll gates in Dubai (total of 6 as of 15 April 2013)
- Airport Tunnel toll gate
- Al Barsha toll gate
- Al Garhoud Bridge toll gate (Al Garhood)
- Al Maktoum Bridge toll gate (Al Maktoom)
- Al Mamzar toll gate (Al Mumzar) - one gate either side of the interchange but motorists only charged once, not twice.
- Al Safa toll gate
Salik surcharge for rental cars illegal (Dec 2013)
Rental car companies in Dubai usually charge customers an extra dirham as an administrative fee for each Salik trip they make.
- 09 Dec 2013 - The Khaleej Times reported that this fee was illegal according to the Dubai Economic Department (DED), quoting the Director of the DED Consumer Protection Department Abdulaziz bin Hathboor as saying "It is not permissible to levy additional fees on the Salik service (though) a number of car rental offices take advantage to add into it extra administrative fees"
- Customers can complain to the DED but unknown how effective that is in terms of getting the charge removed, or obtaining a refund. The CPD Director did say that violations could result in warnings and fines, and closure of the company was also a possibility.
Salik road toll increase 4 to 5 dhs per trip (Dec 2013)
- 09 Dec 2013 - The Khaleej Times reported that "The fee to cross a Salik road toll gate could increase from Dh4 to Dh5 from next year under a proposal by the Roads and Transport Authority - but the plan has not been endorsed so far." The KT did not name a source, except to say it was from the RTA, or provide a quote.
Salik daily cap or limit no more (July 2013)
- From 15 July 2013, there will no longer be a daily limit on Salik toll fees charged according to an RTA statement 30 June 2013. Previously there was a limit of AED 24 per day charged to Salik users (i.e. after 6 trips past a Salik toll gate in a day, further trips on the same day would be free).
- The RTA press release said "... the underlying objective of this decision was to encourage motorists to use alternative roads such as Al Khail Road, and the Mohammed bin Zayed Road in order to ease the pressure on the traffic corridors subjected to the toll gate system." But the press release also said "... the ordinary user of these gates would not feel an effect for this decision since 95% of private vehicles do not pass under Salik gates more than 6 times a day."
- So did we understand that correctly? The point of the decision was to reduce traffic on Salik toll roads, but there will be minimal effect since most people don't make more than 6 trips per day through Salik gates. Erm, so what was the point again?
New Salik toll gates (April 2013) - Phase III
- 15 Apr 2013 - the new Salik toll gates became operational (some reports said 14 Apr 2013?), one on the Al Ittihad Rd on either side of Al Mamzar bridge or intersection (motorists are only charged once), and one on Beirut St near the Dubai Airport tunnel.
- 16 Feb 2013 (press release) - the RTA announced that the start date for tolls through the two new Salik gates would be 15 April 2013. Toll bridge locations will be Al Mamzar interchange (near Al Mulla Plaza) on Al Ittihad Rd, and Beirut St at the Dubai Airport tunnel.
- 16 Jan 2013 (Khaleej Times report) - two new Salik toll gates will become operational in April 2013 - one on Al Ittihad Road (Dubai-Sharjah highway) near the Dubai Police headquarters, and the second near the Dubai Airport tunnel. The KT did not give a source for its information.
New Salik Tolls and Dubai Metro
- The Dubai Metro start date is 09 Septmber 2009. Rumours of more Salik toll gates are unfounded according to the RTA boss, Mattar Al Tayer, in a Gulf News report 03 September 2009. He said "We have no immediate plan to introduce Salik on more roads even after the metro launch," but didn't say for how long after the metro launch they wouldn't have plans for more Salik tolls.
- The Gulf News said the reports were "baseless". Which sounds like dubaispeak for no more Salik on the day the metro starts but maybe sometime after that ...
Some time after that ...
- ... on 21 February 2011, Gulf News reported that two new locations in Dubai had been proposed as suitable locations for more Salik road toll gates, in Al Ghusais somewhere, and on Al Ittihad Road (Dubai-Sharjah highway) near the Dubai Police HQ.
- A scheduled or planned start date for the new toll booths was not known.
- An unidentified "senior official" (apparently from the RTA) was quoted in the report as saying "Though there is no immediate plan to have more Salik gates, we have already identified the locations to install more gates. The gates will be installed only if the higher authorities approved the plan and give green signal"
- Arabian Business reported on the same day that the RTA refused to comment on media reports it plans to add two Salik toll gates
General Salik information
Salik (pronounced Sa-lik as in cat, not car, and not spelt as Salek, Salic, Salec, or Saalik) is the name given to the congestion charge or road user fee system in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), start date 01 July 2007. Dubai road users have to pay a road toll or fee of 4 dhs whenever driving past one of several checkpoints on the Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai Creek bridges, Al Ittihad Rd (Dubai to Sharjah highway), Airport Road, and any further new Salik toll gate locations. The system charged a maximum of 24 dhs per day for frequent toll gate users, but after the number of toll gates increased to six in April 2013, and the number of freqent users increased, the RTA removed the daily cap in July 2013, presumably to take advantage of additional revenue generation.
Prior to and during the launch phase, the Salik road toll system stirred up some passionate discussion in Dubai with a senior police official suggesting that the RTA (Roads and Transport Authority Dubai) was premature with implementing the Salik system. Residents put Salik at the top of their whine list as the launch date approached, and there were a couple of online petitions against (not for) the Salik road tolls. Many residents said it was just a revenue collection exercise, not a traffic problem solution. Whilst the RTA obviously does collect revenue from Salik, it is worth comparing what they spend on road infrastructure compared to what they collect.
- In 2006, the RTA said they expect to generate annual revenue of about 600 million dhs from Salik.
- In October 2006, the RTA said they had plans to develop 500 km of roads at a cost of 44 billion dhs (44,000 million) in Dubai, and traffic would flow smoothly within 3 years.
- So income from Salik offset the road construction bill from 2006-2009 by about 5% (probably less since there are costs associated with operating the Salik system). Or instead of looking for AED 44 billion by 2009, the RTA only needs to find AED 42 billion. Nevertheless, there are still other ways to complain about Salik.
As with anything new in Dubai, there were a few teething problems that needed to be ironed out, or a complete shambles in the opinion of some residents. Problems include major traffic jams around the Garhood Bridge and MOTE intersections as people try to avoid the toll gates, Salik tag shortages as the toll system was launched (for residents, taxis and rental cars), delays in receipt of account number required for online login, mobile telephones flooded with text messages from Salik (along with spam from unrelated companies), unhelpful instructions for motorcyclists, contradictory statements from various authorities about Salik.
Accident potential increased with some drivers braking sharply before the Salik toll bridge - presumably thinking it's a new speed camera, or that they have to stop to pay the Salik toll somewhere, or changing their minds about paying the Salik road toll and wanting to reverse to the previous motorway exit - a typical Dubai Driving maneuver. Stay alert and good luck.
Adding credit to your Salik account - top up options and online payment website
- Tel 800-72545 (800-SALIK) (toll-free in UAE).
- Send SMS from mobile phone (see below).
- Log in to your Salik account online (pay by credit card). Website is a bit user-unfriendly. Try using Internet Explorer if things don't work as expected in other browsers. In Google Chrome some of the links don't work for example, or if you have pop-ups disabled then things might not work properly either but you won't get a message telling you that.
- Online account login link is customers.salik.ae (check you have correct spelling and https:// not http:// at the beginning).
Latest news about the Salik road toll in Dubai
Salik charges for Dubai taxis - 06 December 2012 press release (and conflicting news reports ... as usual)
- From mid January 2013, Salik toll charges will be automatically added to Dubai taxi fares ... unless or until the RTA changes their mind again. Taxis were charged Salik tolls when the system was introduced in July 2007, then exempted from December 2008.
- Eisa Abdul-Rahman Al Dosari, CEO of RTA Public Transport Agency, was quoted in the press release as saying "The decision will be applied gradually as RTA concerned staff will be working on upgrading taxi meter systems of a specific number of taxis on daily basis starting from the mid of next month."
- 05 Dec 2012 - the Khaleej Times reported that The Public Transport Agency of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) on Wednesday announced that it has decided to reapply the toll charge for cab rides.
- 05 Dec 2012 - the Khaleej Times reported that The Roads and Transport Authority CEO has said the organisation has not decided whether the Salik toll will be charged by cabs or not, despite media reports to the contrary.
- 03 Dec 2012 - the Gulf News reported that Taxi users will no longer be exempt from the Dh4 toll when crossing Salik gates beginning January 1, (01 January 2013).
09 July 2012 - Top up Salik by mobile phone (again)
- A new Salik top-up by sms service was announced by the RTA (there was a previous service using the mpay system announced in October 2008).
- According to Engineer Maitha Bin Udai, CEO of RTA Public Transport Agency, "The new service is so simple as it only requires the customer to write in the text message the following data, and in the following order: Number of Salik Tag, Salik Account Number and Salik PIN; and then send these contents to the service-dedicated number 5959 ..." (quoted in the Khaleej Times). The report didn't say how to enter the amount or how you would pay it.
Sunday 23 November 2008 - Dubai Taxis no Salik charges
From 02 December 2008, Dubai Taxis will be exempt from all Salik toll fees (so passengers should not pay either - watch out for taxis trying to tell you otherwise). Eisa Abdul Rahman Al Dossari, CEO of the RTA Public Transport Agency said: "Exempting taxis of Dubai Taxi Agency and franchise companies from Salik charges contributes to upgrading the level of taxi service." The press release from the RTA said they "announced its decision to exempt all taxis from the toll fees (Salik) starting the 2nd of December 2008", however it's not clear if the RTA definition of "all taxis" includes taxis that are not part of the Dubai Taxi franchise. One report the next morning in The Xpress said "The exemption, however, does not apply to taxi units registered in other emirates."
Monday 20 October 2008 - Top up Salik by mobile phone
The RTA says you can now top up your Salik account by mobile phone, if you've signed up to the Dubai e-government mPay service which was launched a few days previously in October 2008. Sign up at mPay website (mpay.dubai.ae): free registration, receive an email with activation code, send SMS with activation code to 4488 from the mobile phone you registered, and you'll receive a PIN number to use for all mPay transactions (not just Salik).
Salik phase 2
- Salik phase 2 (forum topic) started Tuesday 09 September 2008 on Al Maktoum Bridge and at Safa Park.
Thursday 28 August 2008 - no Salik charges at night on Maktoum Bridge
- No Salik tolls will be charged from 2200-0600 (until 0900 on Fridays) on the Maktoum Bridge as the Floating Bridge is closed during those hours, according to the Xpress newspaper.
- The single trip charge for passing under Al Barsha Gate and Al Safa Gate is if the second gate is passed "within a specified normal time required to do cover the distance" according to the RTA Salik website FAQs, and you're going in the same direction through both gates. Unhelpfully, that "specified" time is not specified. The Xpress report quoted an unnamed senior official as saying "motorists will not be charged an additional Dh4 if they pass a second gate within an hour of passing the first gate on the same journey" which sets things up for a pleasant dose of Dubai Irony. During rush hour, traffic can slow to a crawl between Al Barsha and Al Safa with a possible journey time of more than 1 hour, resulting in a double Salik toll charge for getting stuck in the very traffic jam Salik was supposed to alleviate.
- Expect some confusion and traffic jams around the Safa Park interchange and Al Maktoum Bridge on 09 September 2008 as Salik Phase 2 kicks in and confused or un-Saliked drivers try to reverse, suddenly attempt to exit SZ Road, or just drive in circles. It shouldn't be as bad as the shambles when Salik Phase 1 started but stay alert.
Tuesday 27 May 2008 - More Salik gates at Al Maktoum Bridge and Safa Park
So finally after months of rumours of Salik expansion plans, denials of rumours, and "no comments" from the RTA, they announced that they had installed 2 new Salik toll gates on the Al Safa Park Bridge (interchange 2 on Sheikh Zayed Road, near Business Bay) and at the Al Maktoum Bridge. Don't panic just yet, the gates won't be activated until 09 September 2008 according to the press release from the RTA.
The RTA also said if a car goes through the both the Al Barsha toll gate and the Al Safa toll gate on the same journey, there will only be a single charge of 4 dirhams. How slow or fast you have to go was not specified. So if you stop to fill up at a gas station along SZ Road between Salik toll points, does that still count as a single journey?
- Mattar Al Tayer, the RTA boss, said "A pioneering project, Salik has proven to be highly efficient since its inception as a unique solution to resolve traffic issues."
- The RTA press release reported that a study showed how successful phase I of the Salik road toll had been, because traffic had been reduced "at toll areas by 25% and lowered the duration of the journey on Sheikh Zayed road by 50% and increased the average speed from 40 to 80 km/hour."
Erm, is there anyone managing an average speed of 80 km/hr between 5pm and 7pm on the Sheikh Zayed Road from Mall of the Emirates to the Garhood Bridge? Expect to see a few grumbling letters in the newspapers over the next few days.
Sunday 03 January 2008 - Dubai residents say they don't want more Salik
Arabianbusiness.com, a UAE business magazine and website, conducted a survey which saw the majority of respondents saying they didn't want more Salik toll roads. A result which is unlikely to surprise anyone, except perhaps the RTA. What was surprising was that 16% of those surveyed wanted more Salik toll gates as soon as possible. Then again, perhaps the surprise was that so few voted in favour, after all, according to a 29 January 2008 report in the Khaleej Times, Mattar Al Tayer, the RTA chief, said
- "The fact that Salik has done wonders by reducing traffic congestion by almost 30 per cent on Garhoud Bridge and Shaikh Zayed Road cannot be denied. People are happy and are praising the toll system,"
Tuesday 29 January 2008 - Salik expansion plans again
Following on from August, November, and December reports of Salik expansion plans, several newspaper reports appeared, commenting on the possibility of the Salik toll system expansion. A definitive statement was supplied to the Gulf News by the RTA boss, Mattar Al Tayer, who said "I can't say 'yes' or 'no' on the second phase of the Salik toll system on Dubai roads," which clears things up nicely.
He apparently said that the current Salik system was being evaluated and possible future projects were being studied, and so you aren't left wondering what that means, this is what else he said to the Gulf News and the Khaleej Times.
- "But it does not mean that Salik is being introduced on other roads,"
- "We have not taken any decision on the implementation of the second phase of the Salik. The toll system is in fact part of a series of integrated solutions worked out by the RTA to tackle traffic congestion,"
- "We will inform the public if there is any decision on introducing the second phase of Salik but so far there is no plan,"
- "We are looking at different options. The RTA is presently studying the phase 2 and 3 of the project. We would be announcing the decision soon,"
Sounds like it is definitely a certainty that the second phase of the Salik system could possibly be under consideration for future implementation in the fullness of time should the circumstances deem it to be necessary.
Archive of older news has been moved to the Salik Dubai news page.
Using the Salik toll system
Open a Salik account, put the Salik sticker on your car windshield (inside!), charge up your Salik account like a prepaid phone, and every time you drive past a toll point, the toll fee will be automatically deducted from your account.
Remember to bring a photocopy of your car registration when applying for your Salik tag. Salik tag costs 100 dhs.
- Go to a branch of Dubai Islamic Bank or Emirates Bank, or an ENOC, EMARAT or EPPCO service station to open a Salik account.
- Fill in an application form to open a Salik account. The Salik application form is available at locations given above, also online at the Salik website but don't bother downloading it, since you'll have to fill in another one when you buy your Salik kit.
- You need your car registration card and a photocopy (some or all locations will not make a copy for you), and money - 100 dhs to get a Salik tag for your car which includes 50 dhs worth of toll credit.
- If you own more than one car, you register them on the same account but you still need to buy additional tags for each car.
- Your mobile number is needed so Salik can send you a text message or sms with your account number, and when your credit is running low.
- Stick the tag carefully on your windscreen by following the instructions in the Salik package (or get them from the Salik website, www.salik.ae), and you're all set to go. Usually the Salik tag should be stuck just below where the rear view mirror is attached (mount the Salik tag on the inside of the windscreen). Clean the glass first. Tinted windows will apparently prevent correct reading of the Salik tag. BMW, Mercedes, Range Rover, and Rolls Royce Phantom owners have to follow special instructions for Salik tag location - see the Salik website (www.salik.ae) for a document with the correct location of Salik sticker, or phone 800-SALIK (72545).
- When credit for Salik runs low, you'll be sent an sms reminder to top it up - once at 30 dhs, once at 20 dhs, and once at 0 dhs. Recharge/top up your Salik tags at the bank or petrol stations listed in item 1, also at bank ATMS, also online eventually. Salik RTA will send a PIN and account number to your mobile phone for online access ... eventually.
How to avoid paying the Salik Road Toll
- Well, one method is simply not to bother with the Salik tag. You won't be prevented from driving through the toll gates, nor will the police or anyone else chase after you, but you will collect fines that will catch up with you when you register the car and/or leave the country, or sooner if the Police or RTA decide it's worthwhile to come and find you. This method is not recommended.
- Catch a bus or taxi, or the Dubai Metro.
- Ride a bicycle in Dubai (but it's a bit risky, and very hot in summer). Or walk. Or skateboard.
- Use someone else's car (if it's without a Salik tag, it doesn't matter since it's the owner that gets fined).
- Drive a route that doesn't go past the Salik Road Toll. To get across Dubai Creek using a different route than the Garhood (Garhoud) Bridge with its Salik toll point, try:
- Al Shindagha Tunnel near the mouth of the creek - usually very busy.
- Maktoum Bridge (no longer Salik-free from September 2008) from Bur Dubai to Deira - usually very busy and more so after the introduction of Salik. Congestion should decrease when the Floating Bridge opens.
- The Floating Bridge - near Maktoum Bridge, was supposed to be open by the time Salik kicked off but was delayed a couple of weeks and opened on 16 July 2007. The crossing is from Oud Metha Road and Riyadh St between Creek Park and Dubai Courts, to Al Ittihad Road near Deira City Center. Hours of operation for vehicle traffic 0600-2200 (6am to 10pm).
- Business Bay Bridge - new in 2007 and relatively uncongested.
- Ras Al Khor Road and Al Khail Road - join Emirates Road and go around the back end of the creek. Not too bad but Emirates Road can get choked up, especially closer to Sharjah at peak hours near the National Paints roundabout bottleneck (is a freeflow interchange now but still gets gridlocked).
- Once you're on the Garhood Bridge coming from Sharjah direction, you cannot avoid paying the Salik toll charge - there is an exit before the main Salik toll point after the Garhoud bridge but it has its own Salik gate.
- To avoid the Mall of the Emirates toll point, exit Sheikh Zayed Road (SZR) at junction 5 if coming from Jebel Ali, or junction 4 if coming from Dubai direction. To get around the Salik Toll Station between junctions 4 and 5, either use Al Sofouh Road (Al Sufouh Rd) on the coastal side of the SZR, or Al Mafraq Road on the desert side of SZR. Bear in mind that you might use 4 dhs worth of petrol for the extra distance covered, and you'll be stuck in a traffic jam with all the other Salik dodgers.
- XPRESS4ME on 28 June 2007 had a handy guide and map of alternative non-Salik routes.
Other Salik information
- Salik tags cannot be removed without damaging them which means you only get one shot at mounting the Salik tag in the correct place. Don't try and install it when driving over speed bumps...
- Window tinting - The RTA say that Salik doesn't work if your windscreen is tinted eg with V-Kool, but there are mixed reports from drivers with some saying their Salik tags weren't read, and others saying they were.
- Motorcycles are supposed to sign up and pay Salik road tolls and the RTA were trying to figure out where motorcyclists should attach their Salik tags if their motorcycle doesn't have a windscreen. They didn't suggest the helmet as a Salik tag location, and as of 29 June 2007 appeared to have given up trying to find a solution for motorcyclists. Although Wheels (a UAE car magazine) managed to obtain a comment from the RTA saying "However, they don't have to affix the Salik tags if the bike doesn't have a windshield. The system will deduct the toll by identifying the number plate."
- Manual toll payment of the 4 dh fee in cash through a separate lane, if you don't have or want a Salik tag, was reported in early June 2007 to be available. However, there are no such lanes at the Salik road toll locations.
- Salik timings are scheduled to be 24 hours per day although there was some discussion about reducing that.
- Penalties for driving through a toll point without enough credit, or without an active Salik account, will be a fine of at least 50 or 100 dhs (increases daily to 400 dhs per day for repeat offences) which will be waived if you sign up or credit your account within 2 days of the offence. Balances can be checked at salik.ae or by calling 800-72545. You'll receive an sms if you collect a fine says the RTA.
- Taxis are not exempt from the Salik road toll - if you're a passenger, you'll have to pay the fee. Taxis are not subject to the 24 dhs per day toll cap, according to the RTA in July 2007. Taxis were exempt from Salik tolls from December 2008 until January 2013 when the Salik charge was applied to taxis again.
- Rental cars also have to pay the fee - rental car companies should have an arrangement where they can bill you for the Salik toll charges incurred during your visit. They may charge you an extra 10-25% administrative fee. For long term rentals and lease vehicles, you may have to pay the additional administrative fee, or install a Salik card yourself. Ask what the arrangements are before renting or leasing.
- Visitors to Dubai with their own cars have to obtain a Salik tag and pay Salik tolls (said Mattar Al Tayer, the Executive Director of the RTA in an interview with the press in June 2007).
- Vehicles exempted from paying Salik toll charges are Public and School buses, ambulances, police and military vehicles, and vehicles belonging to Special Needs institutes.
- If you sell your car, notify Salik to deactivate or deregister the Salik tag. The new owner has to buy a new Salik Tag. Selling your car with an active Salik tag may sound like a clever bit of marketing but you're not supposed to, and remember that as it's your name registered, you'll probably cop all the fines the new owner collects since s/he has no incentive to top up the Salik card.
- Charges for the Salik toll card are 50 dhs for new, replacement or transfer. If you lose the Salik card, or damage it, or want to put it on a new car, you have to buy a new one. The RTA won't give replacement Salik cards for no charge.
- Cancellation is 10 dhs (which you have to do if selling your car), and to add an extra insult, they don't refund you any leftover credit.
- Fines are 50 dhs - 10,000 dhs depending on the offence (the big one is for "card manipulation", otherwise it's 50-400 dhs).
- Contact the RTA (Roads and Transport Authority Dubai) for official information about Salik - they are the organisation in charge of implementing Salik. Tel 800-SALIK (72545) - Arabic, English, Urdu speakers available.
Visit the Salik Road Toll discussion for more questions, answers and news, or the new one for Salik phase 2. Add your comments, ask your questions.
Last update Thursday 12-Dec-2013