UAE driving schools deny claims of failing students on purpose

Some students have expressed frustration with the driving license process, while others have changed schools


Waad Barakat

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Published: Tue 2 Jul 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 13 Jul 2024, 10:40 AM

UAE resident Maha L was frustrated after failing her driving test nine times in a row. The Emirati then decided to switch to a different driving school in another emirate and passed on her first attempt. "It felt like my instructor at the first school was deliberately failing me even though I did everything right in my lessons. I can't understand how I failed nine times there but passed so easily in another emirate on my first try," she said.

Long-circulating rumours among sceptics have suggested that some driving schools deliberately fail students to extract more money from them. Frustrated by the process, some students have voiced their concerns and switched schools. Despite these allegations, UAE driving schools have unanimously denied any deliberate failure practices.

Disgruntled students

Dubai-based Lebanese expat Bilal Yassir has failed his exam six times. After this, he decided to change his driving institute and try his luck in what he felt was a 'better school'.

"It's very easy for them to make us retake exams and give us more classes, costing more money. They don't understand how much effort and money we put into this," Yassir said. "I feel like some driving schools have better relationships with the examiners and can influence the results, while others are tougher on their students."

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However, he admitted that it was not fair to blame the driving institute entirely. "Sometimes, students may make small and simple mistakes, but they need you to take the exam again," he said.

He also expressed concern that the street exam, which only lasts about 10 minutes, does not accurately determine whether someone is a safe and competent driver. "In the initial minutes, I can be very nervous, and the examiner might fail me because of this," he explained.

Several disgruntled students have taken to social media to express their dissatisfaction. Videos with captions like 'UAE license will suck your pocket dry' have been making the rounds on social media, further fuelling the belief that obtaining a driver's license is entirely dependent on the whims of the driving schools rather than an individual's skills.

'It's a misconception'

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Sameer Agha, Head of Marketing at Galadari Motor Driving Centre, said, "The perception that driving schools prolong the learning process for financial gain is a misconception. Our approach is student-centred, focusing on individual progress and readiness rather than a predetermined timeline.”

Sameer Agha
Sameer Agha

Driving schools ensure transparency

A training manager at Emirates Driving Institute, Wajahat Noor echoed Agha's sentiments. "The reasons for failure can vary, like not enough practice. Mostly, people get nervous while taking exams. But a driving school will never fail you intentionally. Our only aim is to ensure that we give the license to people confident enough on the street and not a hazard to themselves and others."

Wajahat Noor
Wajahat Noor

According to Agha, another common misconception was that the examiner intentionally failed them. “Our examiners care about student success. Assessments are based on objective criteria, not personal bias. We ensure transparency and regular progress updates to dispel this myth,” he added.

He pointed out that driving institutes maintain transparency and fairness through a range of measures. These include clear communication, regular progress reports, and crucially, the implementation of feedback mechanisms that allow students to voice their concerns and suggestions.

The process

To obtain a driving license in the UAE, citizens and expats must apply to a registered driving institute in one of the emirates and complete a series of requirements. This process begins with opening a traffic file at an approved driving centre. Following this, individuals with no prior driving experience must complete 40 hours of driving courses provided by the institute.

Students in driving institutions must pass various tests the UAE traffic department sets. These include a theoretical test to assess their understanding of traffic laws and a yard test to evaluate their ability to perform parking manoeuvres. Additionally, they must pass an assessment test and an on-road driving test to demonstrate their practical driving skills in real-world conditions.


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