Monday, April 11, 2011

Residing & Driving

Today was a very productive day! I am now a legal resident of the UAE (not that I was ever illegal, just that I was only a visitor) AND I am the proud owner of a UAE driver's license ... all in the same day. Here's how the rest of the story turned out.

Last I wrote, we were missing just one more stamp on my visa application. Well, our PRO (Public Relations Officer - remember? the guys with the wasta) got the ever elusive stamp and Brian headed back to Dubai to again visit the immigration office and sign my visa application. I didn't go this time - I didn't need to be there anyway and I'm sure I had something important going on ... like a pedicure! ;)

Once the application had been submitted, it was time for my health exam. To get a visa here in UAE, you have to complete a medical test, which includes a blood sample and a chest x-ray. In short, they are looking for HIV, Hepatitis and TB. I can't even imagine how awful it would be to find out that kind of a diagnosis while completing a medical exam for your visa! The exam wasn't too difficult. Brian had to work that day so I headed to Dubai on the Emirates Express bus, which is a lot like the Van Galder or Badger bus back home, but only costs 35 dhiram round trip (less than $10!!) The trip was about 2 hours, so a little longer than driving yourself, but the coach is comfy and I had my audio book to keep me occupied. I got off at the World Trade Center and tried to find the metro, but failed so hailed a taxi to take me to "Knowledge Village" which is where you get the medical exam.

We had to find gate 12 in Knowledge Village and I realized quickly that my taxi driver either couldn't read at all or couldn't read English because the road signs were pretty clear, but he didn't know where to go. I tried to help, but the language barrier was too great so he stopped in front of one of the security guards. Soon we were again on our way and I was dropped safely at Gate 12. There I met our PRO who took me through the paperwork process (that's the huge benefit of the PRO - he knows exactly where he's going and can field any questions or problems).

The "exam" was first a blood draw (expertly done I might add) and then a chest x-ray. Pretty straight forward and we were out of there in maybe 20 minutes. The PRO dropped me at the Metro station and after a short side trip to the Dubai mall, I headed back home. Piece of cake!!

Today, then, we again met up with the PRO (Brian driving this time) and headed to the immigration office once again. Brian went in and signed for my visa and all was well (and the counter guy wasn't surly this time ... maybe because we had all our stamps?:) Oh, and have you noticed that the only time I had to be there for MY visa was during the medical exam? Otherwise, only my sponsor, Brian had to appear in person. So, I now have my husband-sponsored residency visa, which is good until 2014 and lists my occupation as housewife ... don't even start!

Next up was the driver's license, which I've actually already written about when Brian got his. It was exactly the same process except I got to be in the "ladies only" line so was done in about 20 minutes compared to Brian's 40. I think I'm gonna miss the "ladies only" lines when we return home. :)

We headed back to Abu Dhabi and Brian is finishing out the rest of the work day. And me? I had to take the car for a spin of course! :)

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