With sand dunes perfect for off-road events like the Dakar Rally, and a car market that gives consumers more value for money, if you're a car lover or off-road enthusiast you may feel you've died and gone to heaven in the UAE.

When it comes to buying cars and car insurance, however, you should avoid making purchases faster than the car you want to drive.

Here are some things you should know before you get the car dealer to hand you the keys.

The Rules

First of all, like in any other country, car insurance is compulsory in the UAE, and you must have a valid UAE driving license to be out on the roads. There are over 200 different nationalities driving around the emirates. If only they were all good drivers!

Comprehensive insurance is the most recommended type of cover, since it covers the broadest range of circumstances that you may require insurance for.

Secondly, you can only register your car once you've insured it.

Going All Out — Not Easy

The UAE is one of the cheapest places in the world to buy a car. Due to the recent turmoil in the international economy, some luxury or sports car owners have simply abandoned them because they can't pay for them anymore. Often you can buy these vehicles later on for a very favorable price at an auction. However, fast cars, sports cars and luxury cars are expensive to insure, just as they are in the UK and US, because of the accident risks associated with such high-powered vehicles.

Incidentally, Nissan Maximas seem to be involved in an unusually high number of accidents in the UAE. This makes it tough to find an insurer for them. You should check you can insure it before you buy one.

In the US and UK, drivers under 25, particularly males, have trouble finding insurance coverage, especially for sports cars. UAE insurers are no less sympathetic in this regard. Unfortunately, the lack of driving experience makes these motorists a potential liability in their eyes.

When purchasing insurance, bring your original no-claims certificate, if you have one, with you. The insurer may be able to offer you a discount.

Off road — and off the policy

Read the small print in your policy. Whereas in the UK or the US, you may be covered wherever you drive within the country, in the UAE you need to be more careful. Some policies only cover you when you're driving in certain parts of the emirates.

Also, if you take your vehicle off road, you may find your insurance company no longer covers you. Before you thrash your vehicle in the dunes, on rocky terrain or other off-road locations, consult the insurer first. Note that even if they say they do, they may not actually be willing to when it comes to the crunch.

So if you're heading out to the UAE and hope to buy your dream car, keep to the rules. Do a few checks before you make your purchase too and you can enjoy the fruits of your labors a lot more. If not, the car could become much expensive than you bargained for.