Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ducks, ducks! Kwak-kwak, Kwak-kwak!

Having checked with Classic Motorcycles that I had every piece of paper in order, I dropped off the bike and all the paperwork on Saturday 3rd September. I was promised that a carpenter would come the following day and build a crate for the bike, and it would be shipped on Monday to arrive in Doha the following Thursday, 8th September.

So much for the theory.

The first thing to go wrong was that the usual courier had ‘temporarily’ ceased to do overland shipping, and Classic Motorcycles was soliciting alternative quotes. Mr P. Staker’s Dh4500 (plus packing materials, insurance and service charge) was rejected before I even heard about it, so full marks to Nelson there. Mr Staker’s friend, Allied Pickfords, wanted over Dh6500. The next problem was that the carpenter desired over Dh600 to build a crate. Nelson acquired a metal pallet from Harley-Davidson down the road for a fraction of that, and as it’s designed for a Hog, it’s surely strong enough for a Kwak. More brownie points for Nelson. And DHL eventually came up with a much less unacceptable quote for overland transport that was merely twice the original estimate.

A further obstacle then appeared. It came in the form of a Certificate of Origin, an esoteric document that is only obtainable from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and then will only be delivered to a bona fide member. DHL told me that shipping to Qatar overland without a COO would incur a fine starting at QAR1000. Apparently, the COO is only required for overland transport but travel by sea would take several weeks and cost a fortune, so said Pickfords.

When Nelson returned from his travels in India on Saturday 17th September, he obtained the COO and the bike was picked up by DHL on Sunday. I was promised delivery by Wednesday 21st September, presumably 2011. According to the on-line tracking, the bike got to Abu Dhabi on Sunday night, and by Monday lunchtime was in a state of ‘Clearance delay’. Conferring with DHL in Doha, I learned that they needed a copy of my Qatar ID card, my passport and Qatar residence permit. These are documents that DHL in Abu Dhabi already has (and were required before they’d pick up the bike from Dubai), but it appears beyond the wit of Man for Abu Dhabi to email copies to Doha. Neither is it possible to pick up the phone and ask me; Muggins chased it up by telephone after noticing the delay reported by on-line tracking, and emailed further copies.

DHL was supposed to present the paperwork to someone down at the Ministry of Rubber Stamps for pre-approval, prior to schlepping the bike across the UAE/KSA and KSA/Qatar borders. This happened the day after I emailed my papers to DHL Doha. I was told that from clearance of this latest layer of bureaucracy to delivery would take four days, but when I rang on Tuesday I was advised that the bike would be on its way later that day.

On Wednesday, the bike was still in Abu Dhabi. This was because there was yet another problem: it didn’t have an export plate. Not that DHL contacted me about it. So much more appropriate that they allow my machine to gather dust in Abu Dhabi until I shout.

The Ministry of Rubber Stamps, the Directorate of Paperclips, and DHL all seem blissfully unaware that motorbikes can’t get export plates; at least, not from the UAE authorities. The official line of non-joined-up thinking: “You can’t transport the bike to Qatar unless you provide something that is impossible to obtain.”

The promised four days would be working days, of course, so the estimate of Wednesday 21st would become Sunday 25th September. As the bike was actually delivered on Saturday, I feels as though I should be grateful. But I’m not. Relieved, yes, but not grateful.

Fundamentally, what I object to is paying people considerable sums for the privilege of running around and doing their jobs for them. Every time there’s another flaming hoop, an additional misaligned duck, or some unsolvable problem, it is incumbent upon Muggins to notice the delay, ask what the problem is, and then to provide a solution. Whatever is so wrong with the principle of handing over my cargo, my written requirements, and my money to a professional firm, and simply instructing, “Make it so.”?

Perhaps what I should have done is obtained a Saudi transit visa, then got the bike inspected for export. Then ridden it to Qatar “for a vacation”, removed the number plate and flown back with the plate in my luggage. After that, I’d have got the export certificate from Tasjeel Sharjah and returned by air to Qatar with all the paperwork. Presenting the bike for registration, I would only then have learned why this procedure was impossible, for it must surely be impossible.

The struggle still isn’t over. I arranged insurance today, so the bike could be registered. When I checked through the paperwork, I discovered that Classic Motorcycles has typed up an official invoice in the sum of the bike’s value when it was new. This is despite my providing a priced inventory at current estimated values, as Nelson instructed. I’m told that Classic Motorcycles had to create an invoice to the same value as Liberty Automobiles’ original invoice otherwise Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry wouldn’t issue the vital Certificate of Origin, and export would become impossible. How very exasperating.

At the border, the machine was imported with paperwork that may require 5% duty to be paid. I object, to paying import duty when it was previously paid by me when I originally bought the bike. I object to paying again after providing all the required paperwork that proves I already paid it.

But most of all, I object to paying 5% of the new value when the machine’s now worth half that. It remains to be seen if Officialdom will see reason and fairness, or if I have to pay import duty at effectively 10% in addition to what I paid two years ago when I bought the bike.

Edited on 30th September to add a footnote...

My bike was finally road legal the morning of Wednesday 28th September, after I'd been to the Traffic Police, shown my ID card, signed here and paid this bill. Perhaps it had all been a massive wind-up, or maybe I got lucky, but I didn’t have to pay any import duty. This was no small relief.

Took the bike to work on Thursday, and out for a bimble on Friday morning. Huzzah!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Simples! Just for a change

The Goat can confirm that a UAE non-resident can obtain an E-Gate card at Dubai airport. It's only worth doing for those who travel in and out of Dubai frequently, but the procedure is very, very simple when compared with everything else the Goat has been subjected to of late.

It is unclear what brands of passport merit E-Gate cards for non-residents; presumably those that are permitted Visa On Arrival.

At the top of the stairs upon arrival in Dubai Terminal 1 passport hall, there's a small desk on the right. Other Terminals doubtless have different arrangement. YMMV. The Man In White confirmed that the Goat could indeed obtain an E-Gate card, but would first have to arrive and have his passport stamped at the desk around the corner (on yet another fresh page, as usual). The queue at this desk, which is adjacent to the E-Gate terminals, was mercifully short, unlike the rest of the arrivals hall that was standing room only and breathing by numbers.

With passport stamped, the Goat was directed over to the National Bank of Dubai booth, there to hand over Dh220 and get a receipt.

Now back to the E-Gate desk, where the Man In White took a digital mugshot and scans of the Goat's hoofprints. In exchange for the NBD receipt, the Goat received his E-Gate card.

Easy peasy, lemming squeezy.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's that maritime of the year

A gentle reminder that Monday 19th September is International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

So, gulls and buoys, make ready with your curses and wannions, i'faith; be prepared to splice the mainbrace; sink the scurvy dogs with the bilge-rats that they are, or I'll wager a dubloon that there shall be a-walking of the plank. Et cetera.

And remember that when someone calls you "My Treasure", they think you should be locked in a box and buried on a tropical island.



Sunday, September 04, 2011

The pwnographers

It was around April when a pregnant cat decided to hole up in the Crumbling Villa’s back garden behind the water tank. She appeared to be a healthy house-cat rather than one of the scraggy feral strays that are more commonplace. Beloved Wife is of the opinion that Mother Cat got herself thrown out after Getting Herself Into Trouble.

Three kittens duly appeared in the back garden, and we studiously ignored them, figuring that they’d be weaned and then they’d clear off. And indeed this is what Mother and one of her kittens did. The other two have been hanging around ever since. The garden is enclosed, quiet, and behind the water tank is very safe.

Beloved Wife, who is allergic to both cat fur and litter boxes, and therefore “can’t have house cats”, gave these two balls of fluff names.

A gem of wisdom from Monsters, inc.: “You're not supposed to name it. Once you name it, you start getting attached to it!”

And sure enough, we have both grown a little bit attached to Bouncer and Tux.

Beloved Wife has been completely pwned by the pair of them, especially Bouncer. “We’ll only feed them occasionally so they hang around until they can be caught and neutered” has become “They are so thin; they need food every day.” Now, “They’re outdoor cats” has mutated into “...but only in the kitchen, and then only under supervision.”

Bouncer has discovered the delights of air conditioning, and appears to be angling to become a domestic pet. Why not, with food, attention and balls of alumininium foil to play with? Even her much more timid brother Tux came in through the kitchen window last weekend. Little do they realise what’s in store.

The plan is to get both cats snipped, inoculated, de-wormed and released once they’re old enough. Dubai has no shortage of Felis catus domesticus and needs no additional supply. But this can’t happen for at least another month.

I suspect that there is another plan out there: to make oneself part of the household, and never again be hungry, thirsty, hot or cold.


Saturday, September 03, 2011

Biking UAE: The last huzzah

It wasn’t quite as painful as I’d first imagined to ship my motorcycle to Qatar. This wasn’t the favourite option; better would have been to sell the old one in the Emirates and then start again in Qatar with a new machine. But nobody likes big sports-tourers in the Gulf. Presumably the big-bike fraternity all prefer either crotch rockets or cruisers. Once I’d learned that a new 1400GTR was for sale for less than I’d want to get for my two year old example, it started to look like shipping it was a better option.

At one point I was looking into riding the bike back to the UK, but that plan foundered on the rocks of regular employment. No new employer was going to let me have a month off, and this assumes that obtaining the multiple import and export paperwork would be possible. Actually, I know that it is possible: witness Mike's trip a couple of years ago.

But would it be possible to obtain the paperwork from the UAE after my Residence Visa had been cancelled? You gotta laugh.

Back to shipping. It seems that moving the bike from the UAE to Qatar under its own power would be impossible. The machine has to be de-registered in the UAE before it can be registered in Qatar. In order to deregister it, I would have to hand over the licence plate, and it’s completely illegal to ride on the road without a licence plate. So I’d have to pay a man with a truck. DHL comes to mind. Export plates are not available for motorcycles for some unfathomable reason. If they were, I’d ride the thing to Doha.

The procedure is as follows:-

1. Obtain a Qatar Residence Permit and ID card.
Without this, I would not be allowed to import a vehicle.

The remainder of the steps can be completed in one day. I rather enjoyed the excuse to stick a couple of hundred kilometres on the bike, as I went back and forth obtaining the various bits of paper and all in the correct order. Once this was completed, I wouldn’t be able to ride the bike again until after it had become road-legal in Qatar.

2. Obtain copies of the original Bill of Lading and Customs Clearance.
Eventually I resorted to a personal visit to Liberty Automobiles in Sharjah, the place where I originally bought the bike. A very helpful gentleman rummaged through his computer and paper filing system, eventually unearthing the relevant sheet of paper. He photocopied it. The value of this document is that it proves that GCC import duties were paid when the bike first arrived from Japan, and I don’t have to pay 5% of the value new when I import a two year old motorbike. Full marks to Liberty for effort.

3. Visit Tasjeel in Sharjah.
I explained that the reason for the visit was to export the bike, and Dh100 later I had a document and rubber stamp that would make this possible.

4. Visit Classic Motorcycles in Dubai.
This is the Royal Enfield dealer in Dubai. Nelson had previously mentioned to me that he shipped bikes overseas, and could crate up my bike and arrange its transport. I removed the licence plate and awaited the arrival of Beloved Wife and my alternative transportation. That’s it, then. No more motorcycling for a little while.

5. Visit Tasjeel in Sharjah.
In addition to the old licence plate, the export test certificate and payment of Dh210, I was told I needed to produce copies of my passport and visa page (not my Emirates ID card, as per flamin’ usual), and my UAE driving licence. Why they need these latter two items was unclear. I obviously don’t have a valid UAE Residence Visa because I can’t export the bike to Qatar without Qatar residence, and I’ve just removed the licence plate so I can’t ride the bike anyway.

It turns out that what they actually need is some form of photo ID. Anything will do provided it’s got my mugshot on it. I was given two pieces of paper. One was an export certificate, complete with a dire warning that the machine has to leave the UAE within 96 hours, and the other was a certificate that should enable me to obtain a refund of unused motor insurance.

6. Visit Classic Motorcycles in Dubai.
I handed over the all-important Export Certificate and the Bill of Lading. Nelson queried why I needed the latter. “Of course the import duty has been paid. The export certificate proves that the bike’s leaving the UAE, and it would never have got in without the duty being paid.”

He’s right, of course, but I don’t fancy trying to argue that one with a recalcitrant non-English speaker in a week or so’s time.

7. Write a personal invoice.
I had to provide a typed, signed document that recorded the bike and accessories, plus anything in the hard luggage, all itemised and valued.

The bike now gets crated up and driven to Doha via Abu Dhabi and a small section of Saudi. It should arrive by next weekend.

Once it reaches its destination, the machine will need to be inspected in Doha’s Industrial Area and then registered at Madinat Khalifa, several kilometres away. And of course, because it’s illegal to ride it without a licence plate, the bike has to be moved across town on a trailer. I shall let you know, dear reader, if my meticulous planning that has worked impeccably so far continues to do so.


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