Getting a driving license in Abu Dhabi | Part 2

Soooooo Sunday was an epic day for me, I bought my first car! Trust me when I say this – every member in my family still cannot believe this to be true! I wanted to dedicate this post to sharing my experience after getting my license because I feel that not enough people are sharing information, especially for first time drivers.

When I say – first time driver, I mean that literally. I have never had an interest in cars, the technology of cars, or the mechanics of a car. So after I got my driving license – I dove into a world of research to find what was right for me. That meant learning everything from what horsepower means, what a hatchback is, – oh and I am now a self proclaimed expert in car insurance!

Finding the right car

Credit: VNBNM

My research started with selecting the right car for me. I spent weeks looking into safety as a result of my insecurity on the open roads, and most of my friends recommended the bigger the better. Saturdays were dedicated to visiting different showrooms and absorbing all the info those sales execs hammer you with – without ever really looking into your concern. In a city where seeing a Ferrari or Lamborghini drive by has become a norm, most of my friends were shocked when I told them that I had decided to get a Kia Picanto – the smallest car in the UAE! It was love at first sight, and after I was assured of the new safety technology with the new models, I made up my mind.

My intention was to purchase a brand new car from the showroom as I didn’t want the hassle of buying a second hand car which might have come with hidden damages. I strongly believe in signs, and just as I was about to confirm to the showroom, a friend told me to have one more look at Dubbizle as so many people were leaving to go home. That weekend, I spontaneously searched and found a 1 year old model with a lighter price tag than what I would get from the showroom. I got in touch with the owner who seemed to be professional and legit (don’t mind my paranoia) – and was selling because he was going back home. After meeting with him and checking out the car, I felt so comfortable and immediately decided that this was the right way to go – especially for my wallet! After confirming my interest to him, we took the car to Arya Auto Repairs in Mussafah to do a pre-buy check up which consisted of an in-dept look at the entire car’s exterior and interior functions to rule out any damages. This is not required by the authorities, but it would definitely give you a piece of mind before you buy the car.

After that, I handed him a deposit (you can decide with the owner how much that is), and we were good to go! In my case, we agreed to transfer the car after a month, so I got a rental in the mean time to practice my driving (and my work is 20 mins away from home so imagine the taxi costs!).

Renting a car

Courtesy: Dollar UAE

There are countless rental companies in the city, all of which offer great prices, great cars etc. However, the moment you tell them you are a new driver (and after they have asked you a million times for you home license) – they become less interested. So allow me to elaborate. If you are a driver with less than 1 year of driving experience and are below the age of 25 – you will not be able to rent a car with full insurance (meaning in case of accident, both you and the driver are covered). The best you can get is third party which means only the other driver is covered, not you. I think this is pure discrimination on the part of the insurance companies – especially when you stop for a moment to consider: how many claims do they actually get from 1 person? Now think about how much money they make from you every single year. And the assumption that a new driver is more reckless than an experienced one (in this country) is wrong. Trust me the city is filled with idiots.

Anyway – enough ranting! Luckily enough, my friend works for Dollar UAE and they agreed to cover me fully. I paid a small additional premium of AED 150 which gave me the assurance that I am in safe hands. Dollar UAE have branches all over the city, their processes are so easy and streamlined, and their team is extremely professional – so I highly recommend them for all rentals!

Car insurance

Credit: AFIA insurance

Now, back to the topic of insurance – well the actual research of it was a mini nightmare for me, since I never had to actively pursue one, let alone understand one. After hearing so many adverts on the radio about Insurance Market, I decided to contact them for a quote. They sent it to me within 5 minutes which was great, however when I was ready to confirm everything – they informed me that they could not cover me fully with a comprehensive plan because I was a new driver with less than 1 year experience. UMMM WHY DID NO ONE MENTION THIS WHEN I INITIALLY INQUIRED? Especially as I have provided ALL the required documents so they could see my experience level – I was fuming! They had absolutely no problem following up with me almost every single day to check if I was ready to confirm – of course, they are sales people. But guys, let’s not be careless!

Luckily, a friend of mine had a great experience with Al Ain Ahalia and they agreed to cover me fully! The next steps were to enter information about the car on their website, which is found on the vehicle registration card (ask the owner to send you a copy of this), and your personal information as well as the amount you wish to insure. After payment, you receive the insurance automatically and it is valid for 13 months, which you need to have before you renew your registration or transfer the vehicle.

Transferring ownership of a vehicle

Credit: Flickr

To transfer a vehicle registration is a lot easier than I imagined, and especially as the UAE is moving towards a smoother electronic procedure, I was delighted to have spent only 10 minutes throughout the entire process. The car has be to taken to the Light Vehicles Registration Office on Muroor Street (opposite of Mushrif Mall) for an inspection, which takes only a few minutes (if its not crowded. If it is crowded, expect a minimum of 1.5 hours – and avoid Saturdays). The results are automatically linked to the vehicle registration file so there is no physical document which you need to present. After that, in the same building (just to the left) – the car owner and I took the following documents:

  • Emirates ID
  • Driving License
  • Vehicle registration card
  • New insurance

The process took us 3 minutes as the agent scanned all our documents and changed the ownership details – we were also lucky because at 8am on a Sunday, the centre was empty. Within 5 minutes, we were done, and I received the physical registration card – where else in the world do you receive a card almost instantly (certainly not in my country).

Recommended Apps, Mawaqif, Smart Tag

Credit: The National

After that, it’s best to download the MOI UAE and Abu Dhabi Police Apps where your registration and license will be linked so you can keep track of any fines, black points, and renewals. I also recommend that you set up a Mawaqif wallet where you can pay for parking directly through your mobile (if you don’t have private parking) and never have to worry about lose change. Or, you can always purchase a residential permit which costs AED 800 for the whole year, and never have to worry about spending hours looking for a parking spot near your apartment. Furthermore, Abu Dhabi has currently rolled out a Smart Tag for topping up petrol and I recommend that you make an appointment to get a chip installed which is amazing because that will be the end of cash / card payments at petrol stations!

This was a huge step for me and I am glad to have jumped out of my comfort zone and pushed my boundaries. With the world’s rising levels of stress and suicide rates, I think its important to celebrate the small wins – so I’ll be doing a happy dance from now until forever!

So here it is – my new baby! 🙂 I hope this post is useful for all new drivers and those new to the UAE seeking options with rentals, insurance, and transferring ownership after purchasing a used car.




More information:

  • Cost of pre-buy check up at Aarya Premium Auto Services: AED 300
  • Cost of mandatory vehicle inspection at ADNOC station: AED 165
  • Cost of transfer registration: AED 350
  • Cost of registration renewal: AED 350
  • Opening hours of ADNOC station: 24/ 7
  • Opening hours of Light Vehicles Registration Office Sun – Thurs, 7:30am – 2pm
  • Location map of Light Vehicles Registration Office: click here
  • Abu Dhabi Police website: click here
  • Information about the UAE’s driving and traffic laws: click here

Disclaimer: All views are my own and all photographs are © My Pink Diary, unless otherwise stated. A big thank you to V and M who have been extremely helpful and kind in getting this transfer process sorted as smoothly as possible. Best of luck in your new ventures! And a super duper special thank you to all those who coached, guided, and supported me through this process – you know who you are 🙂

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