How to renew a Dubai Driving Licence in 1970s
Someone who knows how things work is helpful when dealing with local Agencies. Most Dubai based Companies, whether foreign or local, had someone on their Staff who could guide and assist when dealing with these Agencies. These "Mr Fix Its" weere essential to a Company's "smooth" operation. This is how it worked.
Hajji. - Friend and Colleague
Hajji. was a friend and colleague. Dubai born and bred, he had been an Engine Driver on small Oil Tankers trading in the Gulf, then Harbour Tugs at Port Rashid. Hajji. was unflustered by any event. He dealt with people in a calm, friendly and respectful way. Those qualities were recognised. He began working with Kumar who registered Port Rashid's plant and vehicles with Dubai Police. Kumar trained Hajji until he was able to take full responsibility for Kumar's work enabling Kumar to take on different responsibilities. Part of Hajji's new responsibilities was helping renewing Dubai Driving Licences for Expat Staff.
Hajji. (or Hajji or Hajji) is an Arabic term of respect for someone who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca
The Queue that went backwards
When Hajji. called I knew why - my Dubai Driving Licence was due for renewal. Hajji. brought me the necessary forms already completed. All I had to do was sign. Hajji took the papers away. Two days later Hajji drove me to Bur Dubai Police Station for my Eye Test. For many the Eye Test was more of a Memory Test. Their eyesight was bad so resorted to trying to remember positions of the Eye Chart symbols from the last time they failed the Eye Test. It was always the same Eye Chart of course - no letters - just symbols. Hajji. told me to wait outside the Eye Test Room. He went inside. Soon the door opened and Hajji. beckoned me inside. I was warmly greeted by a young Policeman smartly turned out in a well pressed uniform. We shook hands. Hajji. introduced me. "This is the Eye Test in Charge - he is my son".
I passed the eye test. Next was the Driving Licence Section. Hajji told me to sit down while he completed formalities. I found a vacant seat overlooking the long queue stretching from the Driving Licence Renewal Counter to the Building Entrance. Hajji. ignored the queue. He went direct to the Driving Renewal Licence Counter (and the head of the queue), reached through the small hole in the Counter Screen and shook every Policeman's hand he could reach. Each had a short conversation with Hajji. My papers were passed to one of these Policemen. Hajji. stood aside. Other "Mr Fixits" were arriving at the head of the queue to do what Hajji. had just done.
Unconsciously watching the queue, I became aware the queue was moving backwards as more Mr Fixits arrived. Some would not get to the front of the queue today! Fifteen minutes or so later Hajji. appeared with my renewed Dubai Driving Licence. As I said earlier, renewing your Driving Licence in Dubai as it used to be was not difficult but it helped to have help - particularly if it was Hajji.
"Do you own a White RangeRover?"
Dubai Police telephoned me one morning and asked "Do you own a white RangeRover?" My answer was "Yes". I had recently won a white RangeRover in a raffle - the first car raffle in Dubai, or more accurately Sharjah, since the raffle was organised by Sharjah Wanderers Club. My boss was a member of Sharjah Wanderers so he had his two secretaries selling the tickets. I bought one ticket from each secretary although I never worked out which one sold me the winning ticket. Winning was good news except it had a manual gearbox (I much preferred automatic) and my wife did not like white cars. But Dubai Police were not interested in our RangeRover preferences. They simply replied "Come to Dubai Police Headquarters immediately". I knew the question they didn't ask but would ask - "Were you involved in a Hit and Run accident last night?" I wasn't but obviously someone in a white RangeRover had been otherwise Dubai Police would not looking every White RangeRover! Their usual tactic was to question everyone who owned a white RangeRover or whatever car they thought had been involved in the Hit and Run accident. My answer would, of course, be "No" but it was worrying nevertheless so I called Hajji.
Dubai Police Headquarters Sharjah Road
Hajji drove me to Police Headquarters on Sharjah Road. He greeted all the Policemen on the Reception Desk and had animated conversations with them all. Occasionally a knowing glance was sent in my direction. Eventually Hajji beckoned me to follow him down a corridor. He read the label on each door until he found the door he wanted, knocked and waited for the call to enter. When that came we both went in. The Police Officer immediately left his desk to greet us. Hajji and he warmly embraced in a "Bear Hug", both muttering polite enquiries about their respective families' well being. That done, they parted and Hajji introduced me to the Officer. "This is the Officer in Charge of Traffic Accident Investigations. He is my cousin." We sat down to enjoy tea and coffee. The Officer in Charge of Traffic Investigations was amused by my story of winning a RangeRover. With our tea and coffee finished Hajji nodded to me, we shook hands with the Officer and left.
Come to think of it the Officer never asked if I had been involved in a Hit and Run accident. As I said before it certainly helped to have help in these matters - particularly if it was Hajji.
With thanks to Kumar for reminding me of past events and teaching Hajji his "tricks of the trade"!!