How to get a UAE driving license if your UK etc one has expired

My UK driving license expired 2 days before my residency visa arrived. I tried to renew my UK license, but the DVLC or whatever said that, as I’m now living overseas, they wouldn’t renew my license!

So I had to cough up a fair amount of cash (I can’t remember how much at the moment: maybe £100-£150??) – and take 6 instructional lessons of about 90 minutes each over about 10 days, then sit a very easy multiple choice test which I completed in 10 minutes. I also booked one driving lesson.

This is what most of the learner driver cars look like…


I have been driving automatics for most of the time over the last 25 years, but my wife has a manual car in the UK. As I wanted to drive this when we’re in the UK for the summer, this meant that I had to take lessons and pass my test in a manual/stick shift car.

Boy, was that hard!

My instructor gave me HELL! He was a very nice guy, but he constantly criticised my driving during those 30 minutes. I was only planning to take one lesson to get a few tips – after all: I’m a good driver! 🙂

However my guy gave me such strong feedback about the quality of my driving that I decided to book 2 more lessons! I’m glad I did this as you need to know the official way to approach a roundabout, say, if you are going across it regarding which lane to be in, when and how you indicate etc.

The driving test itself was hilarious: around 7.30am about 30 of us piled into a bus, each of us with a numbered ticked. The coach followed a car with 2 officials inside. Person number 1 got out of the coach and into the car and drove off for his *5-minute* driving test which was just round the local area, negotiating roundabouts mainly. After 5 minutes he got out, was passed a certificate from the official in the back seat if he passed, and he was left by the side of the road to get a taxi. Then number 2 person got out of the coach and climbed into the car for his test. I was one of the last on the coach so I watched nearly 30 people before me take their tests. Almost all my fellow passengers were Pakistani or Indian men.

Some drivers drove so badly that their test was over in less than one minute!! They’d drive out into the traffic without looking in their mirror or indicating. One veered across the dotted line into the traffic coming in the opposite direction! It was like watching a comedy sketch on TV! For one of the guys who failed so spectacularly this was his third test. And I believe that you *have* to have 40 30-minute driving lessons if you are starting from scratch, so gosh knows how they can drive so badly after so many lessons

After an hour and a half of going round and round the same area of Al Ain, following this car, it was my turn. My driving instructor of the days before told me to show the official my expired UK driving license and explain that I have been driving in the UK for more than 25 years, which I did. I was very nervous as I was so desperate to be driving a car again, but the official next to me was quite chatty and I soon calmed down, and it was all over after 5 minutes, I got out and was given my certificate. I was now dumped by the side of the road.

However enterprising taxi drivers had been following our coach over the previous 90 minutes, picking up the dumped drivers, so there was one ready to pick me up and take me back home. He was manically happy for me that I’d passed. Back at my place he demanded a fee of 25 AED (£5), which I refused to pay, and gave him 6 AED which would have been about the fee if he had put his meter on. He was furious with me and ranted away, but I just got out and walked off!

I forget how I got the paper certificate transformed into a silver plastic credit card with my photo on it, but it was very straight forward.

7 Comment

  1. Aviator says:

    I failed thrice (yes, thrice!!) . at last got the license last week in fourth test after learning from an Indian driving instructor named Muhamed ali (from national driving school).he was well experienced and straight forward.

    First I tried three times with an instructor and just kept failing. Took more than 10 hours training with him. Then I went to Mr. Mohamed Ali and just took 4 more hours in two days as I need to make sure this time I pass. He taught me almost all tips and trick with in that time, specialized in roundabouts etc.

    At the time of test there were two police men in the car. One next to me and one sitting behind. I did a good start and once moved kept looking at the mirrors, well maintained speed ,two roundabouts, alas he asked me to stop in the side, so that I put hazard lights and stopped the car at the side of road. Well that’s all.

    I think the passing and failing purely depends upon how your instructor teaches you. My second instructor, Mr. Mohamed Ali was very professional and knows well how to make your driving suitable to UAE roads.

    I think anybody who’s struggling to get passed in your driving test should learn from this person. it’s not good to publicize his contact details here without his permit. So pls request with your email ID, I’m glad to help as I know the difficulties to get a driving license over here in UAE.

    He is almost engaged al the time so its difficult to get an appointment. But you can give a try.

  2. Aviator says:

    forgot to say, he is from Al-Ain area, Automatic transmission 🙂

  3. Thank you for your interesting story. I agree: learn from the right person. My instructor taught me several things which would get you a fail in the UK but a pass in Al Ain.
    One of them: when turning sharply into a tight parking space, you must cross your hands as you spin the steering wheel. If you pump the steering wheel through your hands, as I was taught in the UK, he said you would fail the test!

  4. alamry says:

    hahaa,realy you remind me of the long 3hrs we take to make road test for those who want uae driving license,i will correct your information we take the limit of 25 in each bus if not less,and realy its very hard for us becouse most people dont learn even if they take years learning!and sometimes we sruggle with them to control the veichle .you know its hard work but at the same time very exciting and also very funny.once a man after finishing his test (failed)became very angry and told me that he is going to report me to the police!i asked him what am i?he said u r just taxi drivers.very funny1

  5. admin says:

    Thanks for your comments, Alamry! I’d love to read more of your stories: do post them here, and tell us more about yourself and your job. 🙂

  6. pawan says:

    Hi all,
    actually i have cleared the reverse parking test in AL ain , and now want to learn the actual driving on the road . I have applied fro manual Transmission. Is anybody having contact details of good driving instructor for manual transmission car in Al ain area.
    Pls. let me know.

  7. admin says:

    Hi Pawan,
    I don’t have any names and telephone numbers. I suggest you ask around.
    If you find anyone, and they’re great, let me know and I’ll add their info to this site.

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