Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Because we can

What are the requirements for buying a car? Hand over the money and, assuming you want to drive it on the road, ensure you have a driving licence and some motor insurance. Simples.

Not in Dubai it isn’t. At least, not when other emirates are involved.

Stage 1: Find out the rules.
    The very nice Big Cheese in Tasjeel advises that if you have an Abu Dhabi residence visa, normal procedure would be to register the vehicle in Abu Dhabi. But if you live in Dubai (because Abu Dhabi is way too expensive) there’s a workaround.

    Produce proof of a Dubai residential address. A tenancy contract is good. Then registering a vehicle in Dubai will be no problem.

Stage 2: Find a suitable vehicle.
    Enter Dubizzle, the small ads, the Goat who knows about cars, and a lot of weeding wheat from chaff. Eventually find one and agree a price, with terms and conditions. “The vendor ensures it passes inspection, and pays for any work needed to achieve this.” etc.

Stage 3: Check with the Goat who knows about cars that you have everything.
    The Goat suggests that, in addition to your UAE driving licence and a copy of the tenancy contract, the buyer should also bring his passport and visa copy (because his Emirates ID card won’t be acceptable), a letter of no objection from the Company confirming the buyer’s employment status, another letter asserting that he actually does live where he says he lives, and that it’s OK to buy a Dubai-registered car and re-register it in Dubai. All letters must be originals on headed notepaper with the stamp of a major, multinational Company that’s been trading in the UAE for 30 years.

Stage 4: Hit a brick wall.
    Confront the Official behind the counter who says that the paperwork is not in order.

    “Don’t blame me; I’m only a minor peon, flexing my minuscule muscles by blindly applying invented rules because I can.”

    The NOCs from the Company are essentially not good enough. The Official requires a DEWA bill in order to prove that the buyer lives where he says he lives. With a DEWA bill, or an original rubber stamp from the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (that is closed at 8pm, obviously), there will be no problem getting the car registered. It would be possible to deal with the problem today, but the Big Cheese is off sick and is therefore unable to waive this Official’s recently-invented requirement.

Stage 5: More brickwork.
    The following morning, the lady behind the counter says that it’s impossible to register a car in Dubai if the buyer’s visa is Abu Dhabi. It will shortly turn out that this assertion is in fact a lie. She initially suggests that the buyer and seller return at 3pm (when, because it’s Ramadan, the office will be shut). Then she says that if the buyer can produce a telephone landline bill in his name, it will be no problem.

    Returning with a phone bill, ...and a DEWA bill, ...and an NOC, ...and the tenancy contract, ...and the passport, ...and the visa, ...and the driving licence, another seat-polisher spends a good five minutes apparently scrutinizing every character on every sheet of every document before he starts to mistype the details into his computer terminal.

    Payment is made, and the buyer is now the proud owner of a Land Rover Discory. [sic]

As anticipated, each stage of the car-buying process is subject to many variations of the rules, regulations and requirements that are interpretations of the real rules, and occasionally made up on the spot. And having made something up, no matter how ridiculous or unreasonable, it’s impossible for Officialdom to back down again.

The Goat had explained that a one-stop shop where the vehicle is inspected, tested, and checked for ownership, insurance and any outstanding traffic violations is basically a very good idea. How embarrassing that in practice such a simple procedure required four separate visits to Tasjeel and about twenty separate sheets of paper.

The reason for this frustraneous experience is easily explained by Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity.”



Keefieboy said...

I think your problem here, Mr Goat, is that nobody's ever seen a Land Rover Discory, before.

James O'Hearn said...

That's just the beginning of the fun, Mr. Goat.

If you get your vehicle through a car loan, after you have finished paying the last payment, you have to drag yourself down to the bank, beg and plead (and wait three days to a week if you are lucky) for someone to give you a letter saying that, yes, you do own the vehicle after all.

And that is only if you don't learn that due to a rounding error by the salesman, unpaid interest had been accruing during your loan period, which the bank had not informed you about, ever, and which may have resulted in your car being seized and you heading to Al Slammer as a result of "defaulting" on your paid off car loan.

I was lucky to avoid this twist of fate only due to pure providence, where someone just happened to mention the existence of something called a loan release letter, after which I ended up in the bank on the day in which my account, or so I was told, was being sent to collections. Luckily a kindly bank employee took pity on my looks of horror and the apparent onset of uncontrollable tears and allowed me to pay the buck and half of interest that I had formerly "neglected" to pay, and the vehicle was officially mine... that is, after I went to the RTA, paid my dues, fees, and got a shiny new car saying that this was so!

shafeena said...

Haha.. i have been LOOKING for a blogger in the UAE who actually KNOWS what living here means... yup.. ur amazing... will be back always :D

Gnomad said...

its not just stupidity, its arrogant stupidity. There's nothing quite so infuriating as dealing with idiots who think they are being clever.

Paraglider said...

That sounds almost as much fun as losing your passport in Qatar...

(and the word verification test for this post was most appropriate - IRKER !)

Dave said...

And no doubt if you told your friends back home that this is how business is conducted in the UAE they may think you are somewhat exagerating..... but we that does live here know the truth of this place.....

Jayne said...

Reminds me of the 1st time I applied for a phone in Abu Dhabi - I went armed with the application, copy of lease, copy of Hubs contract of employment, copy of his visa, copy of my visa, copies of both passports, original NOC from the company employing my husband & anything else I could think of. Nice enuff chap at the counter said everything was in order, but I had to get a letter from my husband, stating he gave me permission to apply!

GlenW said...

Or Grumpy, you can just pay someone a couple hundred to do the waiting for you and carry on with your day. I've never been to Tasjeel in 6 years, and it's been money well spent.


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