Muscat: Men will be able to apply for an automatic transmission driving licence starting from January 2019, Royal Oman Police announced.

Currently, men in Oman are not allowed to take driving lessons or driving licence test in an automatic transmission car. They have to learn to drive and take the test in a manual transmission car. After they obtain their licence, they are free to drive automatic vehicles, if they so wish.

Women, however, can learn to drive and take the driving test in an automatic or manual transmission vehicle. Also, some people with disabilities are allowed to take driving tests in automatic vehicles.

Brigadier Mohammad Al Rawas, Director-General of Traffic, said in a statement, the decision was taken in response to demands from teachers, drivers and members of the community.

He added those who wish to apply for the manual transmission driving licence can continue to do so.

Al Rawas recently met with driving instructors and discussed with them a number of issues related to allowing men to take the driving test using manual or automatic vehicles with effect from January 2019.

“The decision was based on a study conducted by the General Directorate of Traffic and included driving teachers in all governorates of the sultanate,” the brigadier added.

Many Omanis and expatriates have welcomed the move, saying that they prefer to sit for tests in automatic vehicles.

Ahmed Al Hashmi, an employee at a government agency, told Gulf News that he will wait until next year to apply for a driving licence. “I couldn’t apply for a driving licence as I found it (tough),” he said.

Rafeeq Mohammad, an expatriate worker, said he applied for a driving licence and failed the test more than five times.

“I spent too much money trying to obtain a driving licence. I hope next year that I will pass the driving test,” he said.

The cost of driving tests ranges between 100 riyals to 800 riyals or more depending on the number of attempts.

The minimum age required for acquiring a driving licence in Oman is 18.