United Arab Emirates

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This section has been established to optimize the efforts to map the United Arab Emirates.

VTE
United Arab Emirates, Western Asia, Asia
Wikidata

latitude: 24.520, longitude: 54.286
Browse map of United Arab Emirates 24°31′12.00″ N, 54°17′09.60″ E
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United Arab Emirates is a country in Western Asia, Asia at latitude 24°31′12.00″ North, longitude 54°17′09.60″ East.

Flag of United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates Mapping Project,
the home of United Arab Emirates on the OpenStreetMap wiki.
Hello! Welcome to the project for mapping efforts United Arab Emirates!
You can find here national events, ongoing projects, map status and mapping guidelines, as well as links to other pages directly related to the mapping of United Arab Emirates.
You may also find a list of contacts and mappers involved with the OpenStreetMap community United Arab Emirates.

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General

Getting started

First of all, before starting to map, be sure to read the guidelines and all available info. Can seem like a lot initially but really isn't that much: Map_Making_Overview

Also read and understand the different Map Features. There is also an Arabic version of the Map Features page. This translation is not yet complete, please help if you can.

For editing, JOSM is highly recommended. Alternatively, the latest pre-release of the iD Editor is quite powerful as of 2020, allowing more advanced operations such as multi-element bulk tag editing that speeds up the process of ensuring the consistency of tags across similar elements (e.g. a single road that has been necessarily segmented due to turn restriction relations).

For a daily updated Garmin/MapSource map of the entire GCC area, check the United Arab Emirates#Maps Maps section below.

Observed mapping errors

Preparing weekly compilations of the map have revealed a few problems with the current mapping being done. Please check the following:

  • That roads are correctly connected via nodes, merge nodes at intersections instead of leaving them close to each other, intersecting roads have to be connected to the SAME node to be valid (MUST BE IN ORDER FOR MAPS TO LOOK RIGHT AND AUTOROUTING TO WORK CORRECTLY).
  • Don't use excessive amounts of nodes on straight roads, it just makes them seem curvy for no reason (if the road is straight you only need 2 nodes, one for the start of the road and one for the end of it (not taking into account any intersections of course)).
  • There has also been numerous occassions of DUPLICATE ROADS AND NODES, when uploading, check that you don't upload the same data several times since this creates erronous duplicates. (Record so far is 7 duplicated roads on top of each other, be careful with submitting over and over again!)
  • Adding a node and only giving it a name does NOT create a valid POI (Point Of Interest). Be sure to use the right category, for locations that are not suburbs but worth mentioning, use: place=locality.
  • And one more time; check again that roads are CONNECTED CORRECTLY!!

Map Alignment

One of the least well-understood (and oft ignored) challenges in the community is the never-ending map alignment challenge faced. Like it or not, all users face this, and the issue is that many don't (know to) actively acknowledge this. In general, three layers need to be aligned: OSM data, GPS traces, and Imagery. In many cases, contributors skip the step of aligning layers before beginning editing, and it causes major issues when the edits are based off tracing misaligned satellite imagery. In most editors, there are ways to quickly achieve the alignment of all three layers (JOSM Imagery Offset). Often in the UAE, mapped OSM features are traced from multiple misaligned satellite imagery sources, so whenever mapping, it's very helpful to take the extra time to ensure all three layers align and work to correct existing errors.

Using Satellite Imagery to trace features

  • Many satellite image providers offer good coverage of the UAE, but all suffer from slight offsets. In other words, a Bing image may be offset from a MAXAR image, and both may be offset from the true geographical coordinates. Make sure to use GPS traces to check image alignment and, when necessary, use tools to correct the offset before you start tracing.
  • A lot of Al Ain has been traced from Yahoo images which have a major offset from true coordinates. This offset can be verified from GPS traces or from the more recent Bing images. A major clean up of Al Ain is required to shift all the existing roads to their true positions.
  • Tracing of features from images with offsets is not preferred but is acceptable when an insufficient number of GPS traces are available in proximity to the edit to ensure alignment to true coordinates. However, it's helpful to tag these with fixme=resurvey to flag others to help correct alignment. Only do this for special cases of mapping "greenfield" areas that are wholly unmapped wehre bulk realignment of entities would be feasible.
  • As of 2020, the most up to date and highest resolution imagery sources for the UAE are "MAXAR Premium Imagery (Beta)" and "ESRI World Imagery (Clarity) Beta". Note: both require alignment.
  • Satellite Imagery is taken at inclinations that vary across datasets. This makes it challenging, especially in dense urban areas, to conforming with OSM mapping standards for placing building outlines at the point where the building meets the ground. In completely unmapped dense urban blocks, draw the roofs of multiple buildings and move the group into alignment in reference to the base of one or more building that is visible. When mapping a single new entity in an already mapped urban block, trace the roof and move the outline into proper position relative to existing buildings, ensuring appropriate spacing, rotation, and alignment.

Guidelines

Naming

The only official language of the United Arab Emirates is Arabic. However, English is also a very widespread language, used especially in trade and business, and in the large immigration communities. The common usage is now that Arabic is used as primary language in the name=<default name> tag.

The following name tagging scheme should be used:

  • name=<default name> Arabic name, except in cases that a name in a different language is the more common locally used name
  • name:ar=<arabic name> Arabic name, should be identical to the name=<default name> tag
  • name:en=<english name> English name, should be always added to make sure that users with Latin alphabet are able to understand the place name

Please join the discussion for other opinions on this one Talk:United Arab Emirates

Locations

For places that aren't suburbs, tourist attractions or any other kind of amenity, use: place=locality. The UAE does not have smaller administrative divisions within the cities that would typically be classified as districts or boroughs in other countries. Within Dubai and Abu Dhabi are populated urban areas that are best described as suburbs, quarters, and neighborhoods. These should be labeled as single points (not areas), as they are not necessarily enclosed by well-defined boundaries.

Examples in Abu Dhabi:

Administrative boundary of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi
Key Value
ISO3166-2 AE-AZ
admin_level 4
boundary administrative
is_in:continent Asia
is_in:country United Arab Emirates
is_in:country_code AE
name أبو ظبي
name:ar أبو ظبي
name:en Abu Dhabi
state_code AZ
ref AZ
type boundary
place state
Administrative Boundary of the City of Abu Dhabi
Key Value
boundary administrative
admin_level 5
name أبو ظبي
name:ar أبو ظبي
name:en Abu Dhabi
place city
type boundary

Roads

Road Classifications in the UAE
highway tag Characteristics Directional Flow Separation Min Lanes (per direction) Max Lanes (per direction) Traffic Signals Roundabouts Traffic Calmings Speed Limit (km/h) Interchages Pedestrian Crossings Shoulder Access Examples
highway=motorway Major Inter-city multi-lane roads with directionally-divided and distinct traffic flows Yes 3 6 No No No 140, 160 Limited, numbered, one-way Overpass or underpass Yes, often both sides Motor Vehicles only, time-based restrictions on HGV access Mashreq international roads, Major E roads, e.g. Sheikh Zayed Road (E10 Abu Dhabi->Dubai)
highway=trunk Lesser Inter-city multi-lane roads with directionally-divided traffic flows Yes 2 5 Few Few Rare 100, 120 Infrequent, flow controlled by roundabouts or traffic signals Overpass or underpass, occasional surface level crossing Yes, typically only on right Motor Vehicles only Smaller E roads, e.g. E-33 (Abu Dhabi->Al Ain), Longer D roads, Abu Dhabi International Airport Road
highway=primary Major multi-lane road within a city with directional flows separated by green space or median Yes 2 4 Limited Limited Few 80,100 Frequent, flow controlled by roundabouts or traffic signals Infrequent, surface level Yes, Typically less than one car width Typically Shared Access Abu Dhabi Corniche Road, Shorter D roads, e.g. D611 in Dubai
highway=secondary Major multi-lane surface road within a city with directional flows separated Yes 2 3 Frequent Limited Few 60,80 Frequent, flow controlled by roundabouts or traffic signals Frequent, surface level No Typically Shared Access Abu Dhabi Electra Street
highway=tertiary A minor paved road within a city, directional flows separated only by lane markings. (Note: a very rare case in the UAE) No 1 2 Frequent Frequent Frequent 60 Frequent, flow controlled by roundabout or stop sign Frequent, surface level, potentially unmarked No Typically Shared Access Note: generally the tertiary highway has limited meaning in the UAE; if you think a road should be tertiary odds are it really is either secondary or residential/unclassified
highway=residential Street or road generally used only by people that live on that road or roads that branch off it. Directional flows separated only by (implied) lane markings. No 1 1 No Frequent Frequent 40,60 Frequent, flow controlled by roundabout or stop sign Frequent, surface level, potentially unmarked No Typically Shared Access Roads in residential neighborhoods. (Note: not preferred for urban roads with
highway=service Generally for access to a building, service station, beach, campsite, industrial estate, business park, etc. This is also commonly used for access to parking, driveways, and alleys. No 1 1 No Frequent Frequent 60 Frequent, flow controlled by roundabout or stop sign Frequent, surface level, potentially unmarked No Typically Shared Access Driveways, roads within an industrial site, temporary construction roads, access to service stations.
highway=unclassified Minor public roads typically at the lowest level of the interconnecting grid network. Unclassified roads have lower importance in the road network than tertiary roads, and are not residential streets or agricultural tracks. No 1 1 No Varies Varies 60 Frequent, flow controlled by roundabout or stop sign Frequent, surface level, potentially unmarked No Typically Shared Access Roads for which no official designation can be determined. Small road connecting parts of a town or suburb, but not generally used for access to residential property.
highway=track Defacto roads in the desert in various states of maintenance. (Note: very helpful to specify the surface material) No 1 1 No No No No No No No Typically Shared Access Unmarked desert track to a campsite
highway=service

service=parking_aisle

The lane within a parking lot from which you enter parking spaces. (Note: segments in a parking lot without access to spaces should be tagged highway=service) No 1 1 No Not Typical Frequent 15,20,30 Frequent, flow controlled by roundabout or stop sign Frequent, zebra and raised crossings No Typically Shared Access Row in a parking lot.

highway=motorway

Major highways connecting cities and regions.
Characteristics: dual carriageway with central reservation, tends to have emergency phones for use in case of breakdown.
Lanes: multiple (3-6) traffic lanes, emergency lanes on the outside
Traffic signals: none except in temporary construction areas
Roundabouts: none or very few
Speed limit: 120 km/hour
Exits: limited and tend to be numbered
Some examples:

highway=trunk

Important roads that aren’t motorways. Often suitable for long journeys at relatively high speed and connecting cities and major towns.
Characteristics: dual carriageway with central reservation
Lanes: multiple (3-5) traffic lanes
Traffic signals: few or none
Roundabouts: few or none
Speed limit: 100 or 120 km/hour
Exits: frequent
Some examples:

  • Smaller E roads, e.g. E-33 (Abu Dhabi->Al Ain)
  • Longer D roads
  • Abu Dhabi International Airport Road

highway=primary

A major highway within a city.
Characteristics: dual carriageway with central reservation
Lanes: multiple (2-4) traffic lanes
Traffic signals: limited
Roundabouts: limited
Speed limit: 80 or 100 km/hour
Exits: frequent
Some examples:

  • Abu Dhabi Corniche Road
  • Shorter D roads, e.g. D611 in Dubai

highway=secondary

A major road within a city.
Characteristics: dual carriageway with central reservation
Lanes: multiple traffic lanes
Traffic signals: frequent
Roundabouts: frequent
Speed limit: 80 km/hour
Examples:

highway=tertiary

A minor road within a city.
Characteristics: usually single carriageway but sometimes dual carriageway
Lanes: one lane in each direction
Traffic signals: frequent
Roundabouts: frequent
Speed limit: 60 or 80 km/hour
Note: generally the tertiary highway has limited meaning in the UAE; if you think a road should be tertiary odds are it really is either secondary or residential/unclassified

highway=residential

Street or road generally used only by people that live on that road or roads that branch off it.
Characteristics: single carriageway
Lanes: one lane in each direction
Traffic signals: frequent
Roundabouts: frequent
Speed limit: 40 or 60 km/hour

highway=unclassified

Small road connecting parts of a town or suburb, but not generally used for access to residential property.

Characteristics: single carriageway

Lanes: one lane in each direction

Traffic signals: frequent

Roundabouts: frequent

Speed limit: 60 or 80 km/hour


Salik Roads

  • Salik roads: toll=yes


Intersections

The road structure of the UAE presents a number of challenges when considering how to represent both the physical and logical configurations of the system, and nowhere is this more tru than intersections. While many people use the data of OpenStreetMap primarily to understand the logical structure of the built environment, others rely on the coded metadata behind the scenes as well as physically-accurate representations of roads for navigation. In the simplest cases, intersections can be drawn as crossing roads with a shared node with appropriate traffic signals and restrictions demarcated.

In more complex cases, it's advantageous to add details about the location and nature of pedestrian crossings, true location of traffic signals, turn restrictions, automatic enforcement cameras, etc. Additionally, as many intersections in urban areas of the UAE include dedicated turning-only lanes with access blocked to through-traffic lanes by barriers or curbs, these are best mapped as separate connector roads as opposed to simply tagging lane restrictions on the thru-traffic road.

The goal is to have in-map representations of both the physical and logical traffic flows that match as closely as possible with current and future GPS data. This strategy does, of course, result in intersections with numerous road fragments that need to be separate in order for turn restrictions to be implemented correctly. Please use an editor that allows bulk tagging when modifying such complex structures.

Traffic Enforcements

Speed Limits

The existence of the "buffer" is a somewhat unique feature of speed limits on UAE roads. It's been present as a concept for much of recent history in the country and implies that drivers are legally allowed to drive at a speed 20km/h over the posted speed limit. While this can be confusing to visitors and recent transplants, it was the norm across the country until August 2018 when Abu Dhabi removed the buffer from all posted speed limits within the emirate. Other emirates did not follow suit, and as of 2020, this remains the case.

For example, when crossing from Abu Dhabi to Dubai on E11, the posted speed changes from 140km/h in Abu Dhabi to 120km/h in Dubai while it is completely legal to drive at 140km/h in both. When mapping speed limits on road in Abu Dhabi, it is important to check the currently posted speed limits, as the replacing of signs was also used as an opportunity to change the speeds on certain roads. Unless current posted speeds are otherwise known (e.g. from a personal survey), it's essential to use recent (post-2018) OpenStreetCam or Mapillary street-level imagery to verify current signage.

Speed Cameras

The roads of the UAE are peppered with automatic speed enforcement cameras of various types and configurations, and over the years, many approaches for mapping these have emerged within OpenStreetMap. The most robust and descriptive way, as of 2020, is to map three nodes and create an Enforcement Relation.

First, map two nodes on the road (way) that is monitored (typically taged as enforcement=maxspeed) to demarcate the points between which speed is monitored as well as a single node beside the way (or on the way in the case of overhead cameras) at the location of the speed enforcement device (typically tagged as highway=speed_camera, maxspeed=###, direction=###). Add each of these to a new Speed Limit Enforcement (enforcement=maxspeed, maxspeed=###, type=enforcement, name=Road_Name_and_Direction). The roles of the three nodes within the relation are "from", "to", and "device".

This method creates a speed enforcement with a well described set of parameters allowing us to know where the device is, which direction it faces, which road it monitors, and which precise segment of the road in monitors. (Note: Starting in 2018, the posted speed limit and the speed at which cameras issue automatic citations is no longer uniform across emirates, and as of 2020, this remains true. Ensure the details tagged for the camera and relation reflect the true speed at which a violation is triggered when it differs from the posted speed.)

Red-light Cameras

TBD

Protected areas

  • /Protected areas — upcoming list of protected areas and current mapping status

Issues and Goals

  • Improve data quality
    • many errors and warnings in JOSM
    • inconsistencies in the name tagging
  • Add Arabic name for POIs
    • many POIs miss the Arabic name
  • A lot of smaller towns and villages are only poorly mapped
    • sometimes even important roads and names of villages are missing

Discussion

Talk:United Arab Emirates

Maps

Monthly updated Garmin maps (gmapsupp.img and MapSource/BaseCamp map installer) for the GCC area.

Openstreetmap - UAE

Worldwide autorouting maps