For those who are applying for a driving license in the UAE, here is a small note on what you have to go through. Before I got my license, I asked a lot of people on what the procedure is and how is the test given etc, I got various answers, I give you a detailed report of where to start and how to successfully obtain your license.
I live in Abu Dhabi, so I had to open a file first in the Traffic and Licensing Department (Muroor). You need to go for an eye test and once you pass that, you open a file, pay 800 AED and you get a card, which you will use as a permit for learning to drive. You can opt for a manual or automatic car. Better to opt for a manual one.
If you already have an existing driving license from another country, then before you open a file, get it translated to Arabic from a typing centre by submitting your original DL and passport copy. Once you get the papers, you can submit it when you open a file.
Once you get the learner’s card, go to Emirates Driving Company (Musaffah) and enroll for theory classes. You need to attend five classes and attendance is a must. You will be taught road rules and some sessions of safety lessons will be done. When you finish, you will have to apply for a theory test date. The test lasts 45 minutes with multiple choice questions and results are announced once you finish the test.
If you pass, you can proceed to the next step. If you fail, you have to attend a few classes again.
Now there are two things. One, if you have a valid DL from another country, you can apply for a direct road test. You will be given a test date and one chance. If you pass, you obtain a driving license. If you fail, you have to learn driving from the beginning. Which means you start fresh and spend a lot of money. The second one is, those who don’t have a DL and don’t know driving, will enroll and learn practical lessons from basics after their theory test.
Remember that if you fail that one chance road test, you have to learn from basics. Now this basic includes parking, reverse parking, bridge, learning how to drive etc. And there is a test for each part. You have a parking test which you need to pass, then a bridge test and then finally the road test. You get three chances.
Now I had an Indian DL, so after my theory test, which I passed in the first attempt (37/45) where 36 is pass mark, I applied for a direct road test (one chance). The test date is usually given after one month. If you are lucky, you might get it earlier. So you have plenty of time to practice driving before the test. You need to contact a driving instructor, available in plenty. They are usually parked outside the driving company. You can take lessons from them, just to get a feel of driving on the road and familiarising yourself with the rules.
I feel it is mandatory that you learn driving from an instructor because you don’t want to ruin that one chance. Usually you pay upto 60-70 AED for an hour’s driving. I took two hours of driving everyday for one week. They take you on the same roads where the test will be usually given. Roundabouts are galore here. Learn all the rules and practice as much as you can. This is your preparation for the final test.
On the day of the road test, arrive early at the driving company, take a token and get yourself registered. Make sure you carry your test paper. You will be marked on this paper. A bus will be allotted where you will be seated with 20-30 other applicants. The police inspector will call your names and do a final check and then you are ready to go. A car will go in front of the bus, where one by one, you will be called to give the test.
When your turn comes, be confident. The car will be parked on the side of the road with engine running. There will be two inspectors in the car, front and rear. Sit, adjust seat, check rear mirror, adjust if necessary. You have to hold it in such a way that your fingers don’t touch mirror (the driving instructor will tell you about this). Wear seatbelt. Put first gear, release handbrake, turn indicator on and go. Drive confidently. Most importantly, keep checking the rear mirrors. The inspector in the rear is placed just to see if you are checking all three mirrors.
One chance. I passed in my first attempt. Driving confidently is the key. Follow the rules, use indicators, use the lane rules properly and you are sure to pass. Results will be marked immediately. If you pass, you can take the paper to the police station and get your license. Of course I was nervous, but I was humming Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ song in my head. For some motivation!
Don’t get disheartened if you fail. You will have to go back and learn from the beginning. There will be a pre evaluation test and then you will be given practical lessons. The only drawback is that it is time consuming and you have to wait months and pass several other tests (parking and bridge) before the final road test date is announced. Don’t give up. Just keep trying. If I could do it, so can you.
After getting your license, be sure to drive safe. You have to be very careful for the first six months. Accidents will get you black points and they may lead to your DL being cancelled. So, be patient while you drive and be safe.