Tuesday, October 12, 2010

UAE Driving Licence- Part 1

I've always considered myself a pretty good driver. Not Schumacher good but maybe your typical soccer mom good. Before I came to Abu Dhabi, I was told that due to being a right-hand vehicle driver, I will need to sit for a driving exam to get a left-hand vehicle driving license. Well, that sounds fine by me.

US, Canadian, UK, Australian, European, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore or GCC license and passport holder are allowed to automatically convert their license. Otherwise, in order to drive, you are expected to sit for an exam to obtain a UAE driving license. Countries such as UK, NZ, Japan and Singapore who drives on the same side as we do are exempted from taking the exam and may convert their license automatically to a local license. Prejudice is rampant here. Life here isn't all a bed of roses.

Anyway, I was 6 month pregnant when I arrived and was turned away when I wanted to apply for my license. Apparently pregnant woman (even if she was 5 weeks pregnant!) are forbidden to drive in the UAE and if anything should happen such as her getting into accident subsequently losing her baby, then she will be held accountable (doesn't matter if it wasn't her fault) and it off to prison for her. Strange but true.

Then I had Baby H, obviously there was no way I'd be able to get a driving license as I've no one to care for her while I'm attending classes. After 2 years of living in Abu Dhabi, I am now ready again to take my driving license. Over and over again I went to the RTD website to check my necessary documents. Coloured passport size photographs (check), photocopy of residence visa (check), photocopy of passport (check), emirates ID card (check) and copy of Malaysian driving license (check). Just to be safe I threw in an english translation of my driving license, just in case. Oh yeah...Abu Dhabi Dadddy (check). They need the husband to come with you to ensure that the wife has her husband's approval. *rolling eyes*

So I entered the RTD building and was greeted with an overwhelming stench of BO. Can't blame these men though. If I was filthy rich, I'd dedicate my life to supplying these men with deodorant. Everyone deserves to smell like flowers. :P Oops...I'm digressing. So I'm inside and all I see is chaos. There were lots of counters but I couldn't find the information counter. So I just walked up to this Arab lady behind one counter and told her that I'm here to get driving license. She asked me "You passed?" I said " I haven't taken it yet, I'm here to apply." "Oh...you go open file there." Pointing to this large man seated at the back of the area. So I walked up to him and discovered, here's the information counter. Who in their right mind would put an information counter at such a hidden area? Rather than complicate other people's life, some people really do need a hobby.

I was greeted by a very arrogant looking man. Abu Dhabi Daddy asked where do we go to 'open file'? Without uttering a single word, he pointed to the room behind him. Information counter? For the deaf and mute perhaps. Heaven knows how he got his job.

We entered the room and there was another arrogant looking man seated behind the front counter and was engrossed with talking to a colleague standing next to him. We greeted him with the salam but this man totally ignored us and went on talking to his colleague. After like 5 minutes of us just gawking at this man waiting for him to finish his conversation, he turned to us and said "yes?" Told him I wanted to get my license and he said I was at the wrong place. He pointed to the right and said, "Woman. There. There. Right. There" Err..okay...

Went to the right and saw one room that bore the signage "Woman Traffic". I guess this is it and entered, but Abu Dhabi Daddy was barred from entering and had to wait outside. Approached the front counter with 2 female officers behind it and inquired about opening a file. The woman glanced at me while conversing with her colleague and then refocus her attention back to her colleague. How rude. After 5 minutes of just standing there waiting for the officer to grace me with her attention, she then looked back at me and asked for my papers. Btw. I was the only 'customer' there at that time. She went thru my papers, looked up and asked, "Where is your husband?" I said outside. She just nodded in reply not even bothering to glance at the door. When everything seems to look like its going well, she hands me back my papers and said go back and get translation for license. Told her I have a translation there, she said, "Yes Om Abu Dhabi Daddy. Now Give me arabic translation. You go get legal translation. You know legal translation? Go get legal one okay?" And just like that she dismissed me.

So here I am, no better than I was 2 years ago. They say 3rd times a charm. RTD...I'll be back!

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