On the occasion of renewing my driving license today (gosh has it been ten years already) and the announcement of metro charges in the local papers, I thought that I would share a little tidbit of information for those curious and inquisitive minds amongst us. Did you ever wonder what happened to all of those non-UAE license plates (e.g. mainly from Oman and Saudi) that appear on Dubai’s streets?! What happens to the fines that they incur and do they have to have Salik (the tag that electronically charges your account once you cross the toll gates within Dubai)?!?!
Well, this was a major concern for a friend of mine when he first moved to Dubai. He is a Saudi citizen and as he was working in Dubai, decided to ship his car from Saudi to here and never bothered to get Dubai license plates for his car. Well, as many of us do, at least I speak for myself, is not pay for my parking and speeding tickets except when I have too (i.e. at the annual renewal of car registration). The thinking is; why pay for something until you absolutely have too and besides, maybe one of the royals will issue a pardon for speeding tickets during Ramadan or Eid or National Day so that we get an exemption or reduction in fees. Usually my annual fee is around 1000-2000, but lately it has been getting lower and lower :-).
Anyway, so this friend of mine was worried as he did not have to register his car and kept on accumulating fines and more fines. He was afraid that he might end up with a bill in the hundred of thousand Dirhams once they finally caught up with him. So, he made it his mission to find out!
It turns out that there is an agreement between the GCC countries to pre-pay for the cars registered in their countries, then pass the charges to the actual owners. The responsibility for this tracking falls upon the individual countries. Apparently, Dubai does that and ensures that the owner pays for all of his car fines when he renews. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia does not have this system so they just pay for all of the fines for Saudi cars and keeps the fines in boxes without processing them further.
Thus, one of the cost-cutting methods for the cost of living (in addition to the flexibility of parking) is to get a Saudi license-plate car and have it in Dubai. It will save you a lot of headache and money. For Salik, I assume that it operates the same way, but I will have to check that to be sure.