Quick post on VPN – specifically PureVPN. This is the provider I have been using from the past 3 years and has been good for me with a huge number of servers dotted all over the world.

However, in the country that I am in currently, I cannot access the URL of PureVPN and always have the problem of accessing their website to check on locations in order to connect directly instead of automatically.

So, for anyone out there looking for the complete list of servers (as of 27 Oct 2017), here is the list in PDF format – vpn-servers

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Finally!

So after days of waiting (40 days and 40 nights to be precise) (hey, that seems to have a lot of significance i.e. the number 40), the family arrives tomorrow!

Yea!! Double yea!!!

The funny part is the closer it gets to the end, the harder the wait gets.  When I applied for the family visa, I didn’t expect –

  1. The visa to take such a long time to get approved – it seems since we hold dual nationality, there were double security checks and took almost 2 weeks to get approved
  2. That start of school would get so close that there was literally 2 days remaining to get everything sorted
  3. That the cargo would also reach at the same time and the flat would be a mess of boxes
  4. That I would have no time to set up the flat with white goods like a cooker, washing machine, dishwasher, etc. so that we could start living in the flat straight-away
  5. And so and so forth. You get the gist.

The visa process was taking so long that I was pushing HR from my office to fly the family in on Visitor Visa and get the Residence Visa sorted later.  In my mind, the logic was simple… get the family here, start getting them settled, and once the residence visa was ready, do a return flight to Muscat and we were sorted.

Call this my naivety, but things don’t work like that. Apparently, once you have applied for Residence visa, you cannot enter until the visa is issued otherwise they can hold you at the airport until such time as the visa is issued.  Now my HR could have told this to me at the beginning and like would have been simpler.  But no, that didn’t happen and I kept asking like banging ones head against a stone wall. Communication does not seem to be a strong point here!

Finally, yesterday I was told the Visa had been approved and “might” be issued today.  And the above happened and I talked HR into agreeing to issue the tickets.

Mid-afternoon I get a call from the PRO saying the visa was issued. I cannot even describe the relief. Until later I was brought back to earth and was chided by HR with specific paragraphs from UAE law stating that they knew what they were doing and I was talking BS (not in those word exactly, of course).

But as it happens and as I kept saying to myself  “All is well” like the quote from one of my favourite films, 3 Idiots; the visa paperwork came through and they are coming tomorrow. So what if there were only few seats left on the flight and they might end up sitting separately, and that they will be up most of the night so cranky and tired when they land but they will be here in 7.5 hours and all 3 of them will get the biggest and crush-iest of hugs I can give them.

Yea!

Something to leave this post with –

The Greatest

You’ve been with me through rough and tough
Thick and thin, until the very end

Now let me tell you what’s on my heart
I can’t stand for us to ever be apart

You’re a great person inside and out
Right now you’re who I’m thinking about

If I’m happy or sad, upset or mad
You’re one of the greatest friends I ever had

© Florence Gustave

Living on me tod (or in english, Living Alone)

So, been living in various hotels from April with on-off visits to meet family. Let me tell you at the outset… I am not cut out for it.

If someone had told me before I moved to Muscat (2+ years ago) that I would be living alone, I would have jumped at the opportunity. Now, after being alone for a few months in Muscat (before the family joined me) and now 4 months in Abu Dhabi, I would give anything to have the family back with me.

Overall it’s not been that bad. It’s the lack of my better half next to me.  Although, I will probably fight and argue with her the moment she lands but it’s the comfort of having her near me that is the game changer. And of course, my 2 little monkeys.  They can be the most frustrating people but without them everything feels incomplete.

Anyway… I can go on and on…. For those of you who have stayed on their own may probably identify with me and where I am coming from.

All I can say is I can’t wait for the family to join me next week.

(Maybe another post soon on the various hotels I have stayed in).

Cho Gao @ Crowne Plaza, Abu Dhabi

Cho Gao

Had the opportunity to visit Cho Gao recently, located in the Crowne Plaza, Abu Dhabi with a few friends.

Cho Gao

Great ambience. Excellent food. Good company of a few colleagues from work. Sorry about the lack of details on the food itself but I was too busy having fun 🙂

Booking is highly recommended as they are packed on the weekends.

Here is a link to their Facebook page

Weekend in Dubai

Filli's Zaffran Tea

Feels like an eon since I have had a 2-day weekend. Actually, that’s not true. I have had 2-day weekends. This is one of those rare 2-day weekends where I am not flying off to Muscat to meet the family.

So, that left me with a lot of time to do something. Decided to catch up with a friend in Dubai at whose house I shacked up (thanks Mufaddal) and take this opportunity to meet with Oli and Gary and get the low-down on what is happening in their respective projects.

Coincidently, I managed to eat at Paul’s twice. One for dinner on Thu night with Mufaddal (who, to my surprise had never eaten there before) and on Friday for lunch with Oli and Gary. The latter was not a surprise at all as all 3 of us love Paul’s.

If you have never been to Paul Bakery and Restaurant, I suggest you give them a try.

To top that, I had amazing tea at a place called Filli’s. Not being a resident of UAE for very long, I was amazed to hear how this person started with making and serving tea in a small place and now has a chain of small cafes where people can sit and chat and have lovely tea. Kind off on the lines of famous coffee chains.

If you have not had Filli’s Zafran (Saffron) tea before, I suggest you try. Here’s a photo to give you an idea…

Filli's Zaffran Tea

Exporting a car from Muscat, Oman to Abu Dhabi, UAE – Part 3 – Registering your car in Abu Dhabi

*** Update*** Please see inputs from readers of this blog (in Part 1 of this export procedure post). There are a few important changes. Many thanks to those who have taken time to write to me.

Registering your car in Abu Dhabi

See my previous posts in case you have not yet read them
Part 1
Part 2

Take your car to the Department of Transport (DoT).

Website – http://adnocdistribution.ae/
Phone – +971 800 300
Don’t forget to take all the paperwork including your resident card, driving licence and passport.

If you have a new UAE driving licence (like I did, best to take your countrys’ driving licence to prove that you have enough years of experience behind you of driving a car. The Insurance companies will not give you insurance for new driver (at least that’s what I was told).

Park your car where ever you find parking and go into the main building next to the Inspection bays.

Just past the mini canteen/store there are a couple of insurance companies and more to the left, inside another room. Show your paperwork and get Insurance sorted. The Insurance person will come out and take some photos of your car for record.
Then go to the main hall where you pay AED 120 for vehicle testing. Go outside and get your car in the queue for inspection in the bay indicated in your ticket.
During the inspection you can wait in the hall and once the car has been inspected, you can go outside and pick it up.

it up on the side and go back inside to pick up your inspection certificate. All going well you will have got a ‘Pass’. Not sure about the process in case your car does not pass (perhaps someone else can update me on this part).

Timings for DoT are 7am – 7pm. However, the Vehicle Inspection part is open 24 hrs a day. On extra payment, you can even get the car registered upto 2am by a 3rd party company located just opposite the main building.

You have 30 days from when you buy the Insurance to have it inspected and registered.
In case of any issues, you have 3 tries to get it fixed within the 30 day period.

For registration, go out of the main hall and round the right side where the registration building is. At the Customer Service desk, tell the person behind the desk what you need and they will issue you a ticket. Wait your turn and go up to the counter when your number is called.
They will ask for your Emirates ID and Licence and payment based on the type of plate you require (short or long). I paid AED 275 for long plates for both front and back.
You then go and pick up your plates from the plate factory which is on the left side of the entrance in the same area.
Take the plates and with your car drive up to the area where they will fix the plates for you.
Tipping is optional; I gave AED 10.

Drive home with your brand new license plates 🙂

AD plate

Documents Required –

    1. Export paperwork (1 of which they will take. It is a A5 size doc that you got issued at the Customs Checkpost).
    2. Driving Licence
    3. Emirates ID

Exporting a car from Muscat, Oman to Abu Dhabi, UAE – Part 2 – On the road

*** Update*** Please see inputs from readers of this blog (in Part 1 of this export procedure post). There are a few important changes. Many thanks to those who have taken time to write to me.

So… first part done (see earlier post) and now to hit the road with your newly exported car. You could do both the export procedure and drive to UAE in the day but believe me that would be a very very looooong and tiring day.

I decided that the best thing to do was to hang out with some friends over a nice dinner.

Driving to the Border

I chose to drive on a Friday since it is usually very quite till mid-afternoons. Got going by approximately 7am. Had planned originally to start at 5am but then you don’t go out for late night meals if one wants to wake up early and drive 500+ kms. 🙂

Anyway, back to the drive. On hindsight, 7am was not a bad time to start. Roads were fairly empty and the border was quite. This was a plus point as the officers were not hassled and things got done calmly. Can’t say quickly as it took a long time for certain things to get done.

Points to note:

  • Make sure you take a few copies of your passport and the vehicle export form. This will be required at the border and you don’t want to be looking around for a copier at that point in time.  Other than the drive being extremely boring, there was nothing significant. I used the Al Wajaja – Hatta border, only because I was more familiar with this one than any of the others and I didn’t want to take a chance of getting turned away from a border because they were closed for customs on Friday or just didn’t allow car export through that border.
  • Make sure you carry cash for paying the 5% import duty at the UAE side. They do not accept card and I didn’t see any ATM (cash machines) around.

Oman Border

When you reach the Oman border control, just drive up to the window and give the officer your passport as usual as if you were crossing the border. Once you are past this, drive along a few minutes until you will reach a place where they inspect the contents of the vehicles when coming into Oman. On the right, you will see the Al Wajaja Police Station. Next to this is a small office with a covered area in front of it.

Park your car just ahead of this and walk back to the booth.
Give the person at the window a copy of the export certificate and a copy of your passport.
They will arrange for an officer to come and check your car VIN number against the export certificate.
Then they will fill some online information. Takes some time. Have patience. Cost RO 10.
The officer will ask for the value of the car to put down in the export form. It really does not matter what you put down here as on the UAE side they have their own valuation which is the actual book value of the car.

Note: This value is not the same as the street value; it is much lower so don’t get too worried.

UAE Border

Once you arrive at the UAE side of the border, just get your passport stamped as normal. The officer will give you an entry pass (a small white piece of paper for entry into UAE).
The car procedure does not happen until you reach the old immigration crossing. The building next to the duty-free is the Customs building. Go in there and start the paperwork process. Do not drive up straight to the booth which is in the lane going straight ahead.

This process took me approximately 45 minutes during which the car model and year were looked up in their database and price determined based on which you are asked to pay 5% import duty + processing fee of AED 85 + AED 30 for another piece of paper (that is to be handed over at the time of registering your vehicle, but more about that in the next post). As mentioned earlier, this payment is cash only.

The officer will also come out and confirm the VIN number is correct as per the paperwork.
Make sure your Insurance has got UAE region covered. This will be checked as well.
Once this is done, the officer will then stamp the white piece of paper and you are on your way.

Just cross the rest of the border posts as normal. On the last UAE entry post, all your paperwork will be checked but you don’t need to get out of your car for this.

Total Cost for this step – RO 10 + Import duty in AED _ AED 115

Documents Required

  1. Passport
  2. UAE Resident card
  3. Car export papers
  4. Insurance documents
  5. Photocopies of your passport and car export certificate
  6. Cash (preferably AED)

(Feel free to update me in case there are any changes to this process).