You want a new car but you’ve decided to buy secondhand, whether from a dealer or direct from the current owner. Where do you go?

A whole bunch of car sites have sprung up to rival the old favorites – Gulf News classifieds, Dubizzle and the supermarket noticeboards. We took a test drive, doing a quick comparison of both the way the site works and how many cars were actually advertised, using my own 2011 Mini Cooper S cabriolet as a benchmark. *** the winner ***

  • Countries: Saudi Arabia, UAE, 12 other Middle Eastern countries
  • Languages: Arabic and English
  • Buy or sell?: Both
  • Total number of used cars: 51,365 in the UAE, 20,384 in Dubai
  • Plus points: You can choose seller type to buy from owner only, show ads with photos only, set up watch lists and save search (with email alerts), and filter by some nice badges – full service history, negotiable price, car still under warranty or urgent sale. Although you start on an emirate-specific site, you can search all cities.
  • Minus points: Not easy to navigate through each car’s ‘gallery’ selection of photos – would be nice to have those in search results.
  • How many Minis?: I could filter to a Cooper but not a Cooper S as I could with There were a massive 78 Mini Coopers on sale in Dubai alone (all made in 2010 or since), 124 in the UAE, and 104 Minis in Dubai of the same ages, 180 in total in the Emirates.
  • We say: Still the biggest selection of cars and lots of nice features – particularly like the badge filters. **runner-up**

  • Countries: Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE
  • Languages: Arabic and English
  • Buy or sell?: Both
  • Total number of used cars: 13,366 in the UAE, 10,098 in Dubai
  • Plus points: Photos are mandatory (nothing worse than half the entries having no image) and you can flip through each seller’s selection of photos from the search results. You can browse cars by make, body style, color and region and filter by price, year, condition, mileage and verified sellers, and login with Facebook to save time. Email alerts available.
  • Minus points: If you’re selling, you have to fill in fields in both English and Arabic (title, description, image titles) – not so good for the UAE where many people only speak English. Quite a lot of ‘contact for price’ results – two of the six Mini Cooper S results I looked at didn’t give a price (both were dealers).
  • How many Minis?: listed 19 different Mini models (I didn’t know there were that many!) so you can be very selective in your choice! It listed six Mini Cooper S 2010 or newer in the UAE, and 71 Coopers of the same ages, 48 in Dubai – not far off the Dubizzle numbers. ( listed 77 Minis in total.)
  • We say: Not quite as big a selection as Dubizzle, but still a great choice with plenty of search options. A strong up-and-coming competitor to Dubizzle, Carmudi was only founded last year in Germany but appears to be spreading fast around the world.

[Related: Is a new or secondhand car better?| How to get the best deal on a secondhand car | Buying a car: Cash or loan? | Why shopping around for a car loan pays off] *third place*

  • Countries: UAE
  • Languages: English only
  • Buy or sell?: Both
  • Total number of used cars: 3,407 in the UAE, 2,530 in Dubai
  • Plus points: Very user-friendly and simple to use, very visual. You can filter not just to make and model but versions – so I could (apparently) filter right down to Mini Cooper S convertible. Tells you as you are filtering how many results you’ll get. Results can be sorted by newest, lowest price, highest price, newest model and lowest mileage. You can save searches.
  • Minus points: You can’t filter to exclude ads without photos, which is a great feature to have.
  • How many Minis?: 17 Mini Coopers in the UAE (11 in Dubai) and 23 Minis in total (15 in Dubai), all 2010 or newer.
  • We say: A famous US/ UK site brought to the UAE, this doesn’t have a wide enough choice of cars – yet.

[Compare car loans in the UAE | Compare car insurance in the UAE]

The rest

  • Countries: UAE
  • Languages: English only
  • Buy or sell?: Both
  • Total number of used cars: 1,414 in the UAE, 1,400 in Dubai
  • Plus points: Search by city or search all UAE. You can refine search to ads with only prices shown and sort by date, make, model, price, city.
  • Minus points: No car images in the searches I did, and even just 12 results were split into two pages.
  • How many Minis?: I typed in Cooper S (model is a free-text field) but got all Coopers including the S model – three in all, none with images and only four with prices – and the same three results for all Minis too.


  • Countries: UAE
  • Languages: Arabic and English
  • Buy or sell?: Buy only
  • Total number of cars: 2,479 in the UAE, 1,412 in Dubai
  • Plus points: Can select ‘with pictures’ only.
  • Minus points: Not many results – and old ads are not expired.
  • How many Minis?: Only 1 Mini Cooper S convertible – only three Minis in total, one of which was posted in 2012!

Drive Arabia

  • Countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE
  • Languages: Arabic and English
  • Buy or sell?: Both
  • Total number of cars: 1,645 in the UAE, 1,080 in Dubai
  • Plus points: Can filter by city. Price tags are really clear on each result.
  • Minus points: Could not filter by model. Year and mileage are not displayed in search results unless written by the seller into the title.
  • How many Minis?: Six Minis altogether in the UAE, of which four were in Dubai and four were Coopers.