Friday, 30 December 2011

Doha to Dubai for NYE

We left Doha at 6:20am and arrived at the border to exit Qatar just over an hour later.  Painless process which took 10 minutes maximum, then a drive through no-persons land to the Saudi border post.  We arrived at the Saudi border to find one side blocked because two locals in big 4x4s had had an accident in one of the customs inspection lanes!  You stand in a queue at the little window to get a number, then if you're woman you have to get a number written in your passport and then walk over to another building to have your fingerprints done and a photo taken.  This was only done 6 weeks ago but I had to be fingerprinted and photographed again.  Why the Saudis wanted to do my fingerprints again I don't know, they can't have changed *that* much in 6 weeks surely?
The drive through Saudi takes about 1.5 hours, there is nothing to see except for truck tyres in various states of burial in the sand on the side of the road. They are known as 'desert dolphins'.  The condition of the road is, umm, suboptimal.  Customs will give you a small piece of paper that looks like a supermarket checkout receipt.  Guard this little piece of paper as, even though nobody tells you this, you will need it later on and heaven help you if you don't have it as, first off, you need to show it to the official at the final Saudi exit point who'll give it back to you.
Entering the UAE involves parking your car, going inside (do not feel tempted to use the loo around the back, its a health hazard) the UAE official will stamp your entry visa into your passport and ask to see the Customs paper that looks like a supermarket checkout receipt.  Show it to him and make sure when he gives you back your passport that he gives you the little piece of paper too.  Now you have to buy temporary car insurance from one of the bored gents in the insurance company booths around the corner from the immigration building, its 70 dirhams for a week.  You get back in the car and if you're a woman you can get behind the wheel again at this point, only to have to muscle your way through the queue of trucks down to the final exit check where the man will give your passports the onceover and takes the Customs paper that looks like a supermarket checkout receipt from you.  He keeps it this time and you can get on your way.

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