x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

On Your Side: How to convert to a UAE driver's licence

Keren Bobker gives advice on switching to a UAE driver's licence, transferring money out of Egypt and the implications of breaking a work contract.

I am Hungarian, but I took my driving test when I was living in America many years ago. I want to convert to a UAE licence because I now have residency here. But I have been told this is not possible. Because I have been driving for more than 10 years, is there a way around this? NP, Dubai

You need to have a "matching" passport and licence from a list of 36 approved countries to convert to a UAE licence. Because you do not, and Hungary is not on the approved list, you have no choice but to apply to one of the authorised driving schools in the UAE. You will need to take a number of lessons before taking both a signal and road test. Before doing this, you must obtain a No Objection Letter from your employer and take a standard eye test.


I signed a two-year contract with an international school in Abu Dhabi, but my employer is intending to terminate it after just one year and has said I will not be paid any compensation. My contract is not being terminated because of any misconduct or ineptitude. As such, I have contacted the Ministry of Labour and was told that I am entitled to compensation of three months' regular salary under the UAE Labour Law. The management team at the school is making my position quite difficult. So, at this point, I want to return home, thus breaking my contract. Will my employer have grounds to pursue a claim against me for flights, visas, etc? If so, how would they do this once I am in the UK? JM, Abu Dhabi

You did the right thing in checking your situation with the Ministry of Labour because you are entitled to a maximum of three months' salary if your employer ends a limited contract early. If you break the contract yourself, then you will be liable to compensate your employer, so I would not recommend you do this. Once you have left the UAE, you can pursue the company for a claim, but it would be harder to do so from a distance. It could attempt to make a claim against you if you left without warning, but it could also report you to the police as being a debtor and/or absconder. This means you'd have problems if you tried to re-enter the UAE. Unless it is a government-owned school, it has to abide by the Labour Law. If you pursue a claim against your employer for a matter as clear cut as this, you have every chance of winning.


I worked in Egypt for six months last year and have money in an account with the National Bank of Egypt. I want to transfer this money into my account in the UAE, but am having problems doing so. Is there a way around this? AE, Dubai

Because of the unrest in Egypt, there are heavy sanctions against moving funds both in and out of the country and the Egyptian pound is not a traded currency at the present time. You may have to wait until the situation improves before you can access your funds.


I am a teacher with the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC). I arrived in the UAE in August last year and signed a two-year contract. However, I would like to know if I can break my contract. I have a 12-month probationary period, but I do not understand my options. Will I have a 12-month working ban placed on me, or can I pay a fine to be released from my contract? Would I be banned from working in Abu Dhabi, but could still work in another emirate, such as Dubai? My contract states that I need to give them 30 days' notice. I would like to stay in the country and pursue other job opportunities. AB, Abu Dhabi

The most important point here is that as a Government entity, ADEC is not subject to the UAE Labour Law. Because of this, a probationary period can only be for six months. AB's contract states that he may leave provided he gives 30 days' written notice. Standard employment law states he could receive a six-month ban, depending on his current salary and position. If someone leaves a job within two years, they can receive a six-month ban, but can apply to have it lifted if they fall into one of the following categories: if the minimum qualification held is a high school diploma; the minimum salary in a new job is Dh5,000 for high school diploma holders, Dh7,000 for diploma holders and Dh12,000 for Bachelor degree holders. If the current employer provides a No Objection Letter, the ban can also be lifted.


I have been working for a company in Ras Al Khaimah for eight months, but I am not happy with the company and how it treats its employees. I want to take up a job offer I have received from a company that is based in Muscat, Oman. I have my passport, no debts or other financial commitments and want to go directly to Oman. What are the implications of me doing this? Will I get a ban from working in the UAE and would that affect me in Oman? Would I have an issue coming back to the UAE on a tourist visa? LB, Ras Al Khaimah

Depending on where you are working, you are likely to receive a labour ban for a six-month period that would affect you taking up new employment in the UAE. This is dependent on your employer and salary level, but will not prevent you from working in Oman as it has a different system that is separate from the UAE. There is also nothing to prevent you from visiting the UAE on a visit/tourist visa subject to the standard rules.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com or onyourside@thenational.ae