UAE resident are now allowed to take driving lessons without obtaining permission from their employers. Image Credit: ATIQ-UR-REHMAN/Gulf News/Archive

Dubai: Anyone in the UAE can now start taking driving lessons without obtaining a no-objection certificate (NOC) from his or her employer.

The rule came into effect last week across the UAE, making it easier for all, especially those in the low-income group, to learn to drive and enhance their chances of employment in the country.

Earlier, only people from 66 select professional categories were allowed to open a file for driving lessons without obtaining an NOC from their employers. Low-income group workers such as waiters, domestic helps, shop salespersons and blue-collar workers — to name just a few — were not allowed to start taking driving lessons without obtaining a permission from their employers. Now, the new rule has ensured equal opportunities for all.

Federal decision

Following the federal decision, Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has issued a circular to driving schools in Dubai, informing them about the new regulation.

“This is a very positive step because it will make it easier for all those who want to obtain driving licences to open a file at any driving institute,” said Fatima Raees, director of Customer Service and Marketing, at Emirates Driving Institute (EDI) in Dubai.

Benefits low income group

She said that a number of people from low-income groups, especially those who had lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 impact, have started taking driving lessons to increase chances of their re-employment. “A lot of people are interested to take lessons for motorcycle licences due to increasing demand for delivery services and online shopping,” she noted.

Driving schools in Dubai, which were closed on March 26 due to the coronavirus pandemic, were re-opened on April 30 with a new set of guidelines to be followed to ensure social distancing.

An official with a driving school in Sharjah also told Gulf News that applicants do not need to provide NOCs from their employers. “All we need is their valid Emirates ID and other related documents,” he said.

Boost business

A driving instructor in Abu Dhabi said that the new rule would not only help improve their business, but also provide greater opportunities to low-income people to change jobs and increase their income. “People with driving licences have better chances of getting employment,” he noted.

Documents required to open a file with a driving school:

Copies of passport and residence visa pages.

Copy and original Emirates ID card.

Two photographs.

Eye-test report.

Some of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) followed at driving schools:

1. Use separate entry and exit doors, making sure that the number of customers in the facility does not exceed 30 per cent of the facility’s capacity.

2. Provide remote temperature thermometer devices and avoid using ear thermometers.

3. Provide sterilisation material and devices at different places in the institute

4. Ensure disinfection of chairs and door handles.

5. Ensure sterilisation of testing areas and training vehicles after every use.

6. Stop accepting cash payments and ensure the use of e-payment for all types of transactions.

7. Ensure visits/appointments through SMS or social media accounts.

8. Monitor the visitors’ temperature before entering the institute.

9. All visitors and staff members must wear masks.

10. Children (between three and 12 years) and adults aged over 60 years are not to be allowed entry for their own safety.

11. Encourage customers to pay through smart payment channels.

12. Reduce the number of students in the assessment vehicle for driving tests to one student for each appointment.

13. Encourage attending e-theoretical lectures.

14. Instructors above 60 years and pregnant women are not to be allowed to work.

15. Commitment to social-distancing between employees and customers by no less than two metres.

16. Masks to be used at all times during work, training and tests.