Getting a Dubai driving license with a driving test

In Dubai, since the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) took over the driver testing from the police in 2006, it sounds like it has become more difficult to pass a driving test, not that it was easy previously. Don't expect to pass first time round. Stories of people having to repeat the driving test 10-20 times are common. An additional irritation is that you may need to another 1-2 weeks of driving lessons which will cost you a few hundred dirhams.

03 February 2008 update: The RTA says, contrary to earlier reports, they are not increasing the number of lessons that learners need to do. It will remain at 40 lessons (there were earlier reports it would be increased to 120 lessons).

Usually you'll need to go to a driving school in Dubai for driving lessons. It is also possible to arrange these privately but make sure they're from someone qualified/registered and they have a proper learner's car - easy to recognise because they have dual control systems and are painted an awful color.
In early October 2006, the rule requiring an NOC (No Objection Certificate or letter) from your sponsor was reinstated. You need this before you can start taking driving lessons.
After the driving school has decided you're a good enough driver (that may depend more on how much cash they've received as lesson fees, than on your actual driving skills), they'll make an appointment for you to do a driving test with the Dubai Traffic Department.
You could try making an appointment directly with the Dubai Traffic Department but it would make sense to do a couple of lessons first. Not because you don't know how to drive (there are many licenced drivers in Dubai who obviously fit that category) but because the driving school will, in theory, prepare you for the driving test (as opposed to teaching you how to drive safely).
The Dubai driving test involves answering some multi-choice questions on theory and then a short drive around the block. A surprise for many will be that the driving test car will contain several applicants at once, and you take turns. The tester may be obnoxious and/or inconsistent but remain calm and polite. If you get failed the first time, you might get the same person next time round. Note also that you do the test in a different car than what you had driving lessons in, so the brakes, transmission, controls will be different. Try and practice short drives in different cars, especially if you're being tested in a manual car . The clutch always seems to be difficult for beginners to get used to.
When you do the test, make it obvious that you are adjusting seat and mirrors before starting, checking mirrors and over your shoulder before changing lanes, checking the rear view mirror, etc (same anywhere really).
The driving test results are notoriously random - anyone who's attempted it is bound to have a story. Most people take more than one try before succeding. There was supposedly a wait of six days before you could do a re-test. The RTA changed this to one month late in 2006. It may be reduced according to comments in Mar 2007 from the RTA.Check also if there is an extra fee for urgent applications to speed it up.
Although it's true that many people complain that it's impossible to pass the driving test in Dubai, you'll find it interesting while doing the test that some of your fellow examinees obviously have no idea how to drive in Dubai and should not be let anywhere near a car. Ever. Unless tied up, enclosed in a large bag and deposited in the trunk. You may have less sympathy for those who tell you stories of making their 20th attempt at getting a driving licence in Dubai after being in the car with one of them while they do their driving test in Dubai.
If you pass the driving test, then you'll get your Dubai driving license there and then - you'll need all the documentation listed in the previous section though.


MrAli Ahmed said...

Thanks for sharing very useful information with us its a great post. Dubai driving rules are so strict as compare to other international city. Safety is so important specifically when you are driving in Dubai "UAE" for this purpose kindly follow driving rules properly always beneficial for avoiding so many certain or un-certain risks.

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These rules are specially developed for every one safety who travel on road in Dubai "UAE". Kindly during drive must follow driving rules and regulation.

Ramees said...

I failed today at police road test in RAK.

When he told me to get the car out of the Police building, I try to EXIT through the ENTRANCE gate!!

It was an immediate fail. He did not ask me to drive further, he just said NEXT!

Poor me ;) Good luck to me for the next time.

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Thanks for sharing such an informative Post :)

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