Crazy Abu Dhabi Experience – No phone in the rain

Yesterday, Tiyaanah took me to acquire my Abu Dhabi driver’s license. Though this was not my first crazy Abu Dhabi experience, it was an eventful one. I spent over three hours at the Al Ain Traffic Department in an attempt to complete a simple task.

10 AM – Peaceful and Organized

We arrived at the traffic department around ten in the morning. The change surprised Tiyaanah. According to her, they had knocked down walls and installed a ticket system.

Not a functioning ticket system.

They called my number within minutes. I instantly fail an eye exam. Not surprisingly, I’m told that I’ll need glasses for the rest of my life. Done!

10:10 AM – 526?

Next, I return to the check-in counter and get another number, 526. I walk back into the room with raised eyebrows because the ticket says that there are only 13 people waiting before me, but the number displayed overhead reads 413.

I can math. This is crazy.

Tiyaanah wonders if I’m panicking.

Not panicking. I just see something really suspicious.

10:30 AM – Kids are hungry

Twenty minutes pass and nothing has happened. The kids are looking a bit anxious because they missed their snacks.

Me: Take the kids home. This is going to be a mess.

Tiyaanah: Don’t trip. We got this.

Me: I’ll call a taxi.

Tiyaanah: I’m too cheap for that, bro.

Me: You’ll see.

10:45 AM – I’m impatient

At this time, I start hunting down any and everyone.

Someone tell me why no 500s have been called!

The guy at the check-in starts hunting down people on my behalf. Tiyaanah finally listens to me and sends the boys home.

Over the next hour (yes I said an hour) the guy at the check-in sends me from counter to counter in an attempt to find out how I can register. It seems that I was magically supposed to know that I needed to register myself on Abu Dhabi Police Department’s website. Now, I need to get help, but no one knows how to do that.

Check-in Guy does it himself.

11:45 AM – He made a mistake

After running around for an hour, we realize that Check-In guy made a mistake, but no one knows how to fix it.

1:00 PM – Fixed

A little after one, the problem gets fixed using my phone. Actually, we used my phone for everything, so everyone burned through my 40% of battery and now I have no way of calling a taxi.

I try going out to the street to flag a taxi down, but they keep passing me up. After traveling for over a mile, it starts to rain.


I’m stuck on a corner with more taxis passing my black bottom for seemingly no reason at all. What to do? What to do?

Emirati Voice: Hey! Hey! Do you need ride?

Me: (whispers) Have my babies!!!

Yes. A random Emirati guy picks me up and gives me a fast charger. GIVES IT TO ME!!!

Lesson Learned

Here’s what I learned from this experience:

  • It can really suck out here.
  • They have no sense of organization or structure.
  • Everyone should take their time. Everyone.
  • No matter what happens in Abu Dhabi, someone will be kind to you if they see you struggling.

I’d love to write more about this post, but we’re about to hop on a plane to Thailand. I’ll try to tell this story in more detail in the future. For now, look out for pictures…even though I don’t have a camera with me.


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