Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Passed the Driving Test

I had my road test today at Abu Dhabi. I went to the Muroor (traffic dept) early this morning and after paying 50 dhs for renewing my learner's license (green card) and another 40 dhs for the test car, I found myself a seat on a crammed minivan, tightly packed with male test-takers.

Female test-takers do not get packed in a van, they get their names called for the test and they drive in and around the Muroor compound.

A uniformed officer took a roll call inside the van and off we were. The first test-taker from our batch was called outside the van, and he was asked to drive the test car. There were two police officers (examiners) inside the test car - one in the front passenger seat and the other in the back.

The van carrying us followed the test car, and from time to time the test car would stop and a new test-taker would be picked from the van. Each of us in the van would have a turn to drive the test car. Each 'test' lasted about 2-3 minutes and results were given in hand immediately. On finishing the test, the test-taker can hop back in the van.

My turn at the wheel was somewhere near Carrefour on Airport Road. I was asked to take a U-turn at a traffic light and then drive straight across a roundabout and then the officer asked me to stop the car, and my test appointment was returned to me with a remark stating that I passed the test.

I got back on the van, and they took me back to Muroor where I showed the appointment slip (with the 'passed' remark), one photograph, copy of passport, and 200 dhs. Within an hour, I received my UAE driving license. The license is valid for 10 years.

Most important things for the test:

  • Use mirrors well. Look at the rear view mirror even when not necessary.
  • Indicator lamps.
  • Entry and exit of roundabouts. Follow all rules, and indicator lamps again.
  • Making U-turns. Control of the car during and after U-turns.
  • Out of a batch of around 11 people who were on the van, only 3 or 4 failed the test. The examiners were reasonably polite and professional.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bringing the spouse to Abu Dhabi

I got married and brought my spouse to the UAE in July. I'm sharing the process here for anyone who might find it useful.

Being an Indian citizen there was some paperwork that I had to get done from India. Like any Muslim wedding, mine was recorded in the register of a mosque at my home town in Kerala. In order to obtain a "Marriage Certificate", I had to print the contents of the certificate on a Rs. 50 stamp paper. I then took it to the Khateeb/secretary of the mosque that conducted the wedding and he signed it, and placed the seal of the organization.

Next, I had to get it "attested" by District Notary, then send it to the state capital (Trivandrum), where the Home department will attest it. Next, it has to be sent to the Home Ministry in New Delhi for a further attestation and then, the UAE Embassy at New Delhi, where they attest it again and stick a AED 100 UAE revenue stamp on it. This process (from District Notary attesting it till the UAE embassy attesting it can be done through an agent who will take care of the hassles for you). I paid the agent Rs. 2700 (Indian rupees) to get it all done and I believe it was worth the cost.

Then, I brought the marriage certificate (which by now, is covered with seals and signatures) to the United Arab Emirates. Next, I took it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abu Dhabi (on Airport Road, next to Carrefour) and paid them AED 100 to stick another stamp and attest it (again). I came back to collect it the next day.

Tip: You can reach the Ministry by taxi or you can take bus number 54.

Once I had all this done, I got the marriage certificate translated in Arabic (the organization I work for got this done for me, at my expense) and then my employer applied for the residence entry visa for my wife. Under the urgent track (100 dhs extra or so), you should receive the visa the next day.

The process is not very complicated (except the attestations part). The important thing is to make sure that both your name and your spouse's name is EXACTLY as per your passports. This is really important - I've heard that even a minor spelling error can cause your application to be rejected.

Once I got the visa in hand, we booked tickets and I asked the airline to send a visa on arrival message after showing them the original visa. On the day of arrival, I just delivered it at the Visas section in Abu Dhabi Airport (with a fee of 25 dhs) one hour before the flight arrived.

It is good to inform your spouse that a retina (eye) scan will be done at the airport on arrival.

Once my wife entered Abu Dhabi, I took her for medical tests at the New Medical Center. After obtaining medical insurance, the Residence can be stamped in the passport.