Sunday, 21 January 2007

Bureaucracy - 1: Me - 0

Now that I've finally been granted a Residence Visa I can't drive on my international licence. The law here says that I must have a UAE licence. Both NZ and Australian licences can simply be transferred, no need to do a driving test. Anyway off I go out to the Dubai RTA at Al Basha with my completed application form, 4 passport photos, letter from my employer, copy of my employment contract, passport and driver's licence. First I have to go to a special area to have my application form retyped in Arabic. I had to wait in a queue but the translators (all Emirati guys) didn't want me sitting alone on a bench with all the 'bachelors' so they found me a chair and put it behind the reception counter. I then sat behind the counter with the local guys while the bachelors glared at me from the wooden bench. Unfortunately it was at this point that the translator told me that I couldn't get a local licence because my passport (NZ) and drivers licence (NSW) are from different countries. "Sorry Madame, that is the law, but you can sit with us for as long as you like...." He then told me I would need at least 20-40 driving lessons before I would be given an appointment to sit for a UAE licence. Oh, you can imagine how calmly I took that little piece of information! Anyway to get the UAE licence my choices are:
  1. Go back to NZ and resit my licence. When I first got my drivers licence Henderson didn't even have traffic lights and knowing that the speed limit over railway tracks was 15mph was important. Anyone who's ever hit the tracks at the end of Railside Ave in the old days will know why..........
  2. Take 20-40 driving lessons here (What will I learn? How to drive on the hard shoulder? How to cut people off? How to make left turns out of the right hand lane?) and then sit for the driving test; or
  3. Take Australian citizenship then apply for an Aus passport so my passport and licence are both from the same country which, apparently, makes me a far better driver.

So the most logical thing is to take the Aus citizenship. I want to be able to vote there and I regard Australia as my home and the Sydney Swans as my team. I can have dual citizenship so I don't have to give up my NZ citizenship, that just ain't happening any time. So at the moment I can't legally drive here not even on an international licence. This drives me totally nuts. I drool at the passing parade of local SS's and think "One day you shall by mine, my pretty". Colin just rolls his eyes and shudders.

Monday, 8 January 2007

I'll be baaaack....

Arnie isn't the only one who gets to say that!
My parents' health is causing concern so I am coming back to Oz for a week or so leaving Dubai in about 7 hours. It's 2am here and John the Best Travel Agent in the World has just called to say that he's booked what must be the last available seat on the Dubai-Sydney flight leaving at 9am today. So depending on who you are, you should either:
~Stock up your beer
~Hide your beer
~Polish your dancing shoes
~Do your time sheets and tidy your desk
I arrive in Sydney on Tuesday morning around 6am and will be unspeakably surly, grumpy and bad tempered for the rest of the day - some will say,"So what's new?" - but don't let that worry you, I'll have the mobile switched on so give me a call. I'll be staying with Donna for the night before heading up to the Gold Coast.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

I'm finally a resident with Residence.

The process for obtaining a residence visa here goes like this: unless a person is on their father or husband's visa (doesn't work the opposite way) they must be sponsored by their employer. The employer fills in all the paper work and submits it to the Immigration and Labour Departments here in Dubai who issue the residence visa.

This all went fine but its at this point my passport was stamped with a 'visa category in transition' stamp which meant that from that time until residence was actually issued, usually about 6 weeks, I couldn't leave the country as I was basically visa-less. If I left the country, the process would have to start again. Not that I actually wanted to go anywhere at that point but it was slightly irking that I couldn't go anywhere. But first before the paperwork could go to the government, I had to have my NZ University Entrance certificate attested. What a performance for a piece of paper that proves that when I was 17 I could draw a red-hot map of the Waipa River and write several rivetting paragraphs on the Unification of Yugoslavia (now totally useless knowledge.) First Raewyn had to take the original UE certificate and a photocopy to a Notary Public in New Lynn to be notarised. THEN she had to send it to Internal Affairs in Wellington to have the notary's signature attested. THEN Internal Affairs sent it to Foreign Affairs who attested the signature of the Internal Affairs official. THEN it was posted to me here in Dubai where I had to take it to the NZ Consulate to have the signature of the Foreign Affairs official who attested the signature of the Internal Affairs person, who attested the signature of the notary, attested. By the time I got the certificate back it seemed to have been signed, witnessed, notarised, attested or authorised by just about every Kiwi on the planet.
Next step, The Medical. Over to the Ladies Section of Rashid Hospital to have a blood test (AIDS) and then a chest x-ray (TB). Then there was the contract from the Labour Dept to be organised. I thought I had everything ready and went over today to submit it all to the Immigration Dept only to find that the person who was supposed to collect the results from the hospital had not done so. Into the office car and over to the hospital with the lady paralegal from work who's a local. We didn't have the official receipt to collect the results so, as we went into the hospital office, she told me "Just stand there and look silly (can do) and whatever you understand, don't say anything." She then spun a great story to the office guys about how I'd put the receipt through the washing machine ("Look at this woman, she's blonde, what did you expect, you shouldn't have given her the receipt in the first place"). Worked a treat, got the results and went straight back to Immigration and the residence visa was issued in about 5 minutes.

I've rung John the travel agent in Melbourne to get on the first flight back to Oz to go to see my folks asap.