Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Driving in Dubai

One important part of the process of moving to any new city is to be able to drive in the new place which includes having the necessary permit, getting the car you like, the relevant insurance on it etc etc. A 'short' recap of what I did to get my license:
  • My husband and I were stuck in an odd situation the last few months here since I was on a residential visa but did not have the appropriate license whereas my husband had the license but not the visa. The first few months were luckily very pleasant and we make-did (does that work?) with walking and the metro. 
  • We did rent a car as a temporary measure since March though. For all of you stuck in a similar situation, I highly suggest taking a stroll through Karama and get negotiating with some of the local car dealers. You should be able to hire a Toyota Corolla (2010 model) on a monthly contract for about Dhs 1500-1600. We rented a Mazda 2013 model for for Dhs 1800 and were very happy with the services.
  • Not having a choice about giving the test despite my British licence, I registered with Emirates Driving School at the Internet City branch where the staff helped me a lot. My training was to take place at Al Qouz. I went with EDI purely on the basis of recommendations and online research. All the driving schools offer pretty much the same services. At the top they are owned by the same management (the government of course). EDI differentiates itself on its supposedly high passing rate and the ‘crowd’ it attracts in general. Since I am a UK license holder, I wasn’t required to take any classes but needed to pass the theory and road tests in order to obtain the license.
  • I registered for a manual license since I have only driven manual cars in the past and I am not used to my left leg just sitting idle and observing the rest of my body drive the car. I did register for a few classes to get the hang of the school cars and to ‘prepare for the test’ with special tips and on the exam route etc.
  • My journey with EDI started with two theory lectures and the theory exam was really nothing to worry about especially if you have been driving for some time. Without exaggeration, I was done in 8 mins and passed with 95% score.
  • Next up for me was the practical two hour class. My instructor was Fatiha, an experienced lady originally from Africa. I really enjoyed training with her because apart from her knowing her stuff, she showed confidence in me and gave me honest advice for not needing any more classes and continue with giving the test on a manual car.
  • The test was scheduled for the morning at 8.30 which was convenient as I could continue with my day without any disturbance. The test was taken by a pleasant female examiner.
  • The test barely lasted 3 mins on the practiced route and it was really not difficult to maintain focus for that duration (compared to 40 mins in UK!). The only problem I faced was to give the exam in a car I hadn’t practiced on and so the gears kept getting stuck and the examiner asked me about it too. But in the end she said, “Good driving, Pass”. That’s all I needed to hear J

My major grouse with the whole system is that its a pure money making exercise not leaving any small loophole free in terms of registering, attending, changing their schedule or even collecting pass certificates or licenses. It is extremely frustrating but the sooner you make your peace with it the better.

I had to go collect my licence the next day and now I am a proud owner of three licenses (from India, UK and now UAE) on manual gearbox!

P.S: I have been told the only manual cars I would come across here in Dubai would be sports cars..never say never ;)

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