Driving License in Muscat - A steep learning curve

I wanted to use this forum to share my experiences and my understanding of the whole situation regarding getting a driving license in Oman.

Its been 4 months since I have been attempting to get the coveted piece of plastic. Below I am listing down a few points that I have realized and would want people to know/ internalize [especially if like me you come from India with considerable driving experience]

(1) Your India driving license and experience counts for nothing here.
I have come to believe that the India experience is actually a barrier. I waltzed into this country full of confidence as I had over a decade of driving experience. 6 tests including the drum and slope have shattered all that confidence. My first advice to people is to tell yourself that you are as bad as someone who has never held a steering wheel in their life. Its the best starting point and you can slowly build up your confidence from there.

(2) Test location and instructor is key to getting the license soon.
Al Khoud [5 tests done there] is the most difficult location. My advice is, if possible don't do tests there. Qurm [my last test] is much simpler. Don't know about Ruwi test location.

Get an instructor who can speak and understand English or Hindi. No matter how well recommended [unless the instructor has big time wasta] do not go with only Arabic speaking instructor.

(3) Inshalla is the only reason you will pass.
You make lots of mistakes, you will fail test.
You make no mistake, you will fail test.
The police does not like something about you, you will fail test.
Its just a bad day, you will fail test.
He's had a fight at home, you will fail test.
He's not had a fight at home, you will fail test.

You will pass when Inshalla.

That does not mean you don't practice or make mistakes. Just don't have any expectations of passing. You will get it when you need it and not when you want it.

(4) It's a 'wolf in sheep clothing' business
Making people give repeated tests is good because it helps put good drivers on the roads. But as you keep failing [sometimes for no mistake at all] you begin to realize that while that is the motive its not the only one. The ROP wants your money. The driving instructor wants your money. Nobody wants you to pass in the first attempt. The more failures the more money to be made.

You can't do much about this, expect realizing this helps in not having unrealistic expectations.               

(5) Number of failures does not make you a bad driver
In a driving test rules are rules that are meant to be followed to the T no matter how silly some of them may sound.
In the real world rules are just guidelines meant to ensure your and other travelers safety.

Most 'so-called-mistakes' are when you have not followed the rule to the T. I'll enumerate some that have led to my/ colleagues failed attempts: [Make no mistake, I am all for having and following rules. But the excessive rigidity is incomprehensible]

a) Give right indicator even if there is only a right that can be taken: Silly rule for an experienced driver but I got failed for it [this is while getting into a fuel station]

b) Down-shift in descending order - 5, 4 ,3, 2 and 1: Who ever does that in real life, but I was failed for it.

c) At the signal keep the car in first gear ready to take off: Another silly rule. It does not matter if the car is in gear or neutral. Whats important is if you get going smoothly when the lights turn green. But the cop will not care for that. He will fail you if you forget to put the car in first gear. Besides with over 90% cars on road being automatic why have such pointless rules.   

d) Don't change lanes immediately after giving indicator: Here's what the cop said:
Step 1: Give indicator;
Step 2: Check mirror;
Step 3: Move into other lane &
Step 4: Stop indicator.

Now according to me there is absolutely nothing wrong in the doing the following:
Step 1: Check if lane is empty i.e. no car in lane;
Step 2: Give indicator and move in to lane
Step 3: Stop indicator

I failed as I did not follow the above rules [all 4 steps]. It does not matter how well you changed lanes or how safely you did will fail since you did not go by the book.

e) When taking the left you need to do the following:
Step 1: Slow down at the left turn and give left indicator
Step 2: Check for on coming traffic
Step 3: Take the left if there is no on coming traffic

Simple and correct way of taking a left. But Step 3 has no guidelines to it and when you take the left is completely up to interpretation by the cop. I have stopped at the line and waited for cars that are far away and was told 'Why you waiting so too far so just go'. OK. Next time car still far and I go and another cop says 'That's mistake...You wait when you see a car on that road'.           

Well thats all for now. I'll add to this as and when such gems decide to reveal themselves to me. Till then so long. Keep paying through your nose and like I said you will get it when you need it and not when you want it.

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