The journey of a “hard-earned” driving license in Oman!

Getting a driving license in Oman is not an easy task. Since the day I arrived here, I have heard the tales of hard-earned driving licenses. You think you were an expert driver back home or you have been driving since ages, so you can ace it like a boss. Well chances are you might get it easily by third attempt. Yes, third attempt i say, it is by far a very good average. Dont be so upset because sometimes if the lady luck is with you and its a very good day of your life, you might as well get it on the first attempt. There have been such instances. If you are a scratch learner than 6th attempt is the average to pass. Overall, my suggestion would be to keep your hopes at a considerate level. You never failed in school, well you can now. Good news is there is no limit to re-attempts but remember your goal is to “learn” the driving. So let it be a 12th attempt but make sure you learned it well.

In Oman, there are limited driving schools to teach. Usually driving is taught by individual driving instructors who are licensed to teach by the ministry. The tests are taken by the Royal Omani Police (ROP) directly, who sit in the car with you during the test and instructs you to move around and there are no major and minor mistakes option. Every single mistake is major and is entitled to doom you.

So the process starts of by getting your green book made from any of the ROP stations. The male drivers are mandated to give test on manual cars while the girls can opt for an auto transmission. Payment can be made to the chosen instructor per class or you can do a contract to pay a lumpsum amount to them until you get the license. Test fees are separate for your instructor and ROP. It is a common belief that if you do a contract, you tend to gain the license early, because this way the instructor earns more and strives to get you the license earlier. Whereas, in per class payment you might get realtively late because the instructors earn more with the number of classes. By the way, both of these notions doesnot hold true, in every case.

So the first step is to pass three tests: oral test of traffic signs, drums test and slope test. All three of them are given on the same day. If you flunk in any one of these, you just have to retest only that one, after ten days. Drums test is a bit trickier. The best way to pass it easily is to focus on the technique your instructor teaches you. Basically you have to reverse your car and pass it through drums without knocking them down. You have to do it from both sides, left and right. This may seem easier but when you do it, unless you follow the half-second-drum trick, you might hit any drum and fail just like that. So when you are ready, you can take the drums test. These tests are conducted inside ROP stations. Wake up at 5 in the morning, go stand in the queue and finally give the test. If you pass it welldone, if not, no worries you can retest. The mandatory time between any two tests is ten days.

When you are finished with the drums, than comes the road test. The areas to focus are control on wheel, seatbelt, road signs, turnings, indicator, road speed limit, hazards, stopping lines, roundabouts, yellow line, watching out for other cars or pedistrians, taking the side lane before you go into the main road and parking. These are some of the keypoints to watch where you might fail. So anyway, wake up at 5a.m., go to the test area, practice a little and than wait for your test. When finally your turn comes, the ROP officer will come and sit beside you, your instructor will sit behind. ROP officer will instruct you around on the roads, asks you about road signs and speed limit etc. Finally the test will end and you will get to know the verdict.

Miraculously you might have passed, but if not trust me its ok, its the first attempt, what did u think. The reason to fail seems lame or you think you dint do it at all. Well just accept it though it will be difficuilt to accept. After the mandatory ten days time, you can re-appear. You will be hopeful for the second attempt but you still might just fail again or luckily pass this time. It can take one more attempt or several more attempts to pass, no one can bet on that. You just have to go through this, the anxiety, the pain, the denial, the failure, the torture. The reason could always be minimal but remember something minimal can cause a huge accident. So its in your best interests and you will eventually pass. 

Yes, you will “pass”. You will hear this word, “yes”. You will be in disbelief. You would want to tight hug the ROP. You will be so happy like you have never been in your life. You will be over the moon. You will be on cloud nine. As if you got your PHD, as if you got into an ivy league or as if you are the king of the world. Go ahead enjoy your day and celebrate. But dont forget to pick up your license from the ROP station. And when you will have it in your hands, trust me you will forget all the sufferings, all the trouble you went through, because all is well that ends well. The process may get stressful and takes a long time but this is to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being. With a 120km/hr speed limit it had to be a “hard-earned” license. Now, go find yourself your dream car and drive safely.

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