Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Learning to Drive in Oman pt. 1

I have been learning to drive in Oman. I have been about this for a while because... I did learn how to drive in my home country and I have difficulty unlearning what I learned before.

How is this done? You take some passport style photos of yourself, take your residency card, and 5 rials and head down to the traffic safety ROP station near the Exhibition Center (and the Golden Tulip-Seeb hotel) and get yourself a "ketcha" [learner's license]. Then you phone a driving school and set up an instructor who speaks your language. I am Muslim, so I wanted a woman instructor also, so that took extra trying. You also have to choose if you wanna learn automatic (then you are only allowed to operate an automatic vehicle), or manual (aka standard-then you can drive both). Apparently there are no female english speaking instructors who teach manual close to where I live, go figure.

First thing you have to learn how to do is reverse between two rows of barrels, left and right. Using your mirrors and not necessarily looking over your shoulder as you reverse. Different than my home country. Then, how to drive halfway up a hill, stop, pull the emergancy brake up, gas it to 1, and then put the e-brake down and go. Got that? Then you are ready to be tested, either in Muscat or Sumail.

To my benefit, more or less, I suppose, my driing instructor didn't exactly spppppppeaaaak that much english, so I learnt most directional & driving terms in Arabic. Though I admit, I said I understood alot more than I actually did. I mean, I'd understand a word, but not necessarily the whole sentence.

In the ROP testing center you will be tested on Omani signs before they let you do the barrels. My tester didn't understand much English so he only asked me three signs. Yep. The Omani girls I was with got asked 20 more signs than me. Good thing I am good with signs right?

For the barrel test you have to present your residency card and your ketcha book (the green one). If you pass that you do the hill and e-brake test. Then voila! You are qualified to take on the roads.

But beware, apparently shoulder-checking (you know, for your blind spots) is totally not allowed, and you don't always stop at stop signs. They are more like "yeild" signs. Yep, I got into trouble for coming to a complete stop. Apparently you don't do that if there aren't any cars. WHy, why why I don't know. Why even bother with having a stop sign?

Pt. 2 coming soon.


MaRia said...

oh the driving tests drama, I know the feeling it was a stressful time for me back in the days of learning!

I don't know about some points u have mentioned here about u r not allowed to look back just use the mirrors and not stop at stop signs if there are no cars!! where I come from if you did these things the police officers responsible for testing will definitely fail you. especially for not stopping at stop signs or road lines!
but there are always exceptions.
hope you get over this drama soon cuz it really sucks your energy and spirit! LOL

♥ααℓiα♥ said...

OMG I'm scared to drive in UAE!! Alhamdulillah for our awesome driver S. He is used to driving in Abu Dhabi/Saudi Arabia AND Peshawar so I am safe he will know how to deal with other drivers in the Gulf better than me LoL

Boxie said...

Inshallah you will get it done next time. ill help with anything you need :D

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Maria: we have different laws here.

Aalia: the drivers are less scary than in UAE. But not everywhere;)

Boxie: InshaAllah.