Monday, June 16, 2008

Don't drink and drive.

Don't drink and drive. The blood alcohol limit is 0.0  and the penalty if caught is jail and or a DHS 20000 fine.

Catch taxis or hire a chauffeur home. For this chauffeur service called "Safe-driver" see here. it is great.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words! The two below sum up driving here up. Now read below.


The roads here are excellent, but it is the mix of drivers that causes problems. people driving slowly on an eight lane highway can cause as many problems as speeding cars. however, many people drive very fast and at times recklessly,  take care.

  Lots of money, big powerful cars, many nationalities and young inexperienced drivers all combined, you can only imagine it till you see them in action, then it is terrifying.

Seat belts MUST be worn and there are heavy fines for not wearing them though the law seems to be ignored by many ignorant drivers. especially those with children standing on the front and back seats of their cars

NOTE When you arrive have an International Driving Licence with you as most  Car Hire companies need you to have one. Details on getting a UAE licence are below.

Comments from a staff member who has rented

A note regarding minor traffic accidents / scrapes, specifically with respect to rental cars: If you discover any type of damage to your rental car, no matter how minor you may think it is, call the police on the spot and get a police report. This includes scrapes and dents where another car has opened its door into yours. If not, the car rental company will not accept your car when you go to return it and send you off until you get a police report. Don’t try to go to the police station to get a police report (we did – actually, to four police stations before giving up…) and just do what, in the end, the police instructed us to do: dial 999 as soon as you find the damage, tell the police what you think happened, and get a police report on the spot. I would also call the car rental company right away in case they need any other type of documentation or want you to swap the car for an undamaged one.

 Speed Cameras 

Operate all over Dubai and the other emirates, both in fixed locations (that look like Grey Post Boxes or tall grey  traffic lights) and when set up by the police on small tripods or in cars like in Western Countries. The main highways between Dubai and Abu Dhabi and Dubai and Al Ain now have many cameras, but is still doesn't stop the speed maniacs who don't seem to care about being fined or drive fast until they get near a camera and then brake suddenly till they pass it.

Cameras in Dubai get you as you approach them if speeding. In Abu Dhabi/Al Ain/Sharjah they get from behind as you  pass them.

To have Dubai police notify you of Dubai fines, register by following  the steps here

 Staff who have a valid driver’s license (with at least 6 months validity before the date of expiry) from Austria; Australia; Belgium; Canada; Czechoslovakia; Denmark; France; Finland; Great Britain; Greece; Holland; Italy; Ireland; Iran; Japan; New Zealand; Norway; Poland; South Africa; South Korea; Spain; Switzerland; Sweden; Turkey; West Germany and the USA (check for more countries that have been added to the list with FAD) may apply for a Driver’s license directly at Dubai traffic department after your Residence Permit is stamped into your Passport.

All GCC licences are valid in the UAE when visiting. There is  no need to get a new UAE licence unless you become a resident as far as I know

Canadian Nationals must obtain an affidavit from the Canadian Consulate in Dubai verifying that the license is genuine before going to the traffic department. . You must go to Canadian Embassy, show your Canadian drivers licence and get a letter from embassy that your licence is valid  -  it costs 60dhs for the clearance letter ( this is done right on the spot)

Turkish Nationals must have a translation done at the Turkish Consulate before going to the traffic department.

Japanese nationals also need a translation which is available at the Japanese Consulate in the World Trade Centre open from 9-1 weekdays and costs Dhs 152 . (Why Dhs 152, who knows?)

Faculty and Management with licenses from countries other than those listed above, need special dispensation (which the HCT has organised already) to obtain a UAE license from the Abu Dhabi traffic department. Don't despair! It just takes longer than the other nationalities. This special HCT dispensation does not extend to spouse and other family members who will have to be tested in Dubai. special HCT dispensation does not extend to spouse and other family members who will have to be tested in Dubai.

There are special requirements for the dispensation; it is fairly straightforward - please see the Visa/Housing Officer for full details. Please note that the arrangements can take several weeks. For ease of processing, all employees falling under this category are generally taken to Abu Dhabi as a group.

 In due course you will be advised of the day and time when you will accompany the Visa/Housing Officer to Abu Dhabi to go through the procedures at the License Bureau. You will require the permission of your Supervisor as this procedure takes a full day and cannot be done on Thursdays (the Supervisors understand this and will be more than willing to help you).

 An International Driving License or your home country licence is valid for use ONLY up to the date on which you obtain your Residence Visa, (i.e. whilst you are on a visit visa) after which time you will need to apply for a UAE licence. If you are already in the UAE and need to obtain an International Driving Licence for an overseas trip here is how. 

  Documents required

    1.    Application form (from FAD) completed in ARABIC

   2.    2*Passport photos ( yes, even after your Eye test)

   3.    Original passport with valid Residence Visa plus one copy

   4.    Original licence plus one copy

   5.    License fee of Dhs100 (approx)

 For renewals of your licence you only need your eye test documentation and 2,3,4 and 5 of the above.


It may take 2-3 hours to obtain the licence. There are two main Licence Bureaus; one at the Traffic Department between the Al Bustan Residence and  Galadari Junction ( driving towards Sharjah past the Airport stick to the right hand lanes, at Galadari motors ( the big Ford/Mazda dealer) turn right and then turn left at the first set of Traffic lights. When you go in the gates, park at the left and go in in theGreen door. The other is near  Interchange 4 on the Shk Zayeed Rd in the   Bur Dubai Traffic Police Building (on the left as you go towards Abu Dhabi). The License Bureau is open from 7:30 am-2:30 pm, Saturday to Wednesday. Your application will be processed much more quickly if you go early in the day. There are licence bureaus being set up in shopping malls eg. the Pink Mall (Jumierah Plaza), just along from Jumierah Mosque on the left heading towards Abu Dhabi, usually operating from about 0900-0900 most days.            

See below from a new staff member

Yes, you can get license done (if transferring from one of the listed countries) at Jumierah Plaza (aka Pink mall), 1st floor on the Jumiera Road side of the mall and if you have all the bits n pieces it takes about 10 minutes as it isn’t nearly as full.  They are open 9am-9pm Sunday- Thursday.

 Before you start, Collect the application form from FAD fill it out in English and then it will be translated into Arabic for you by them . Take it to any optician, Most around the city will do them .

You must take a passport sized photo with you to the eye test. There is one in Al Mulla Plaza near the college and close to the licence testing centre who charges about Dhs 25. He/She stamps your form and then you can proceed. 

Take all the documentation to the Licence Bureau. Enter through the green door and follow the signs for “Driver's Licence”. Give the documents to the officer at the counter on the left of the main door.

Near the reception counter is a room where your documents will be translated for Dhs10 if needed.

You then go to a counter behind the control line where the officer will process the paperwork and return the documents to you.

Take the documents to the Duty Officer for signature.

Take the documents to the cashier and pay the required money. Then present all documents to the next counter (beside the cashier).

Your photograph will be taken and you will then be asked to either wait for the licence or return the next day for collection. 

After completing the eye test  beforehand the whole process takes about 40 minutes to an hour. The earlier in the day, the quicker it will be.

 The procedure is the same at all locations and the counters are well marked in English. There is a separate room for women, where the documents are handled by women officers and taken to each desk for you. It is easier BUT it may take longer this way

The procedure for renewal is the same as above. You will have to produce a valid UAE licence, and clear any pending traffic fines, before the licence is renewed.

You will need your car registration number or driver's licence number to find out how much money, if any, you owe. This comes about because you don't receive any fines in the mail you only find out by ringing, arranging to have a notification of a fine (when occurring)  faxed to you or checking at the "Fines ATM like" machine in the shopping malls.

 Temporary Licenses

If you intend to drive a friend's car ( rather than a Hire car) you need to get a temporary license from the Dubai Police. It is  best to produce your home license and an international one, when doing so. The procedure is fairly painless.  I'll check for the costs ASAP 


 A note on car insurance from a new staff member

When you go to purchase a vehicle and have it insured, you can get a discount on the insurance by providing a “no claims” certificate or letter from your current car insurance company. We got a letter before we left our home country. However, be sure to have all of the information on the letter, including the fact that you held comprehensive insurance. We had everything but that sentence in our letter and it was quite the feat to get another issued to satisfy the insurance company here in Dubai. The things that we were told need to be in the letter are: driver’s name(s), dates of no claims (they are specifically looking for 4+ years), something to say you held comprehensive insurance, should be on company letterhead with contact details, and it seems to be a good thing if you can get it stamped with a company stamp. Ours was accepted without the stamp but everyone kept asking if we could get another letter with a stamp on it.

 Road Tolls  ( Salik)

Dubai now has the Salik system which is a road toll on the Sheikh Zayed Highway between Gahoud Bridge on the creek and Mall of the Emirates( towards Jebel Ali) , There is a toll gate at each end and if you go through both you are charged Dhs 4 twice.

You can purchase a sticker for you car and top up your balance at most Service stations with Dubai.


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