Sunday, May 18, 2008
Getting a driving license in Abu Dhabi
If you have a driving license from one of the listed countries like GCC countries, USA and UK, you can directly get a UAE license without further ado - but ONLY if you are also a CITIZEN of one of these countries.
What this means is that an Indian citizen like me, who has a Bahraini driving license (a GCC country), cannot get a driving license straight away - while a Bahraini citizen with the same license can get a UAE license straight away. Kind of ironical, but that's the way it is. Maybe the roads here can make out what passport you hold, so its not safe for you to drive on them if your home country is not the country that issued your driver's license. :-)
Well, rules are rules. So you need to follow them.
If you have a driving license from another country (or if you are not a citizen of one of the privileged countries), you are allowed to appear for a road test straight away after undergoing mandatory 'theory classes' worth Dhs 780 at Emirates Driving Company (EDC) in Musaffah, Abu Dhabi. Before registering for the classes, you need to spend a few hundred dirhams to "open a file" at the Traffic dept, get an eye test, etc. This can be done at EDC or at the Traffic dept.
Once you complete the 4-day theory class, you need to appear for an online exam at EDC and you need to pass the test to get a 'course completion certificate'.
After that you pay 50 Dhs. to get an appointment for a driving test at the Traffic dept. (commonly known as Muroor). On the date of the test you pay Dhs. 40 rent for the car, and get on the car with 2-3 police officers. They are very strict and keep talking to you in a mix of Arabic and Urdu/English while you drive, which is kind of distracting. You basically need to take the car out of the Muroor compound through one gate and get it back in thru the other, but this involves getting on the road, and making a free right at a traffic light or two. The officer may even ask you to drive fast and overtake other cars.
Here are some things I learnt:
1. Dont panic no matter what the officer says. Be cool. (Yes, it is tough!)
2. If you've been driving automatic gear for the better part of your driving experience, apply for an auto gear license instead of manual gear. It really helps you save your time and money.
3. Look in the rear view mirror every 5 seconds for no reason. The guy sitting in the back seat is watching. Make sure you move your head towards the mirror to show him that you're actually looking at it.
4. Try not to overtake, unless the officer shouts at you to overtake. Be careful, and overtake only if its simple to do. Make sure you look in the rear mirror, left mirror, and out the window, again in a way that's evident to them that you're looking.
Unfortunately, I flunked my first attempt. So, off I went to EDC in Musaffah, where I registered for further training.
Part 2: The driving course at EDC