Four tests are to be passed in the following sequence before a regular driving licence is granted :
1. Traffic Sign Test - Here the learner is required to identify various road signs pointed at on a chart by the Royal Oman Police (ROP) officer.
2. Drum Test - In this test one has to reverse through two rows of empty 200 litre drums without touching any of them. The eight drums are positioned in two rows of four each in such a way that there is barely enough space to park the car. The entire exercise has to be done in reverse gear ONLY and shifting to any other gear or the car moving forward leads to failure.
3. Slope Test - Here one has to move up a slope from a standstill position without rolling backwards or without the wheels making a screeching sound. The slope is cemented and is smooth so as to make the proceedings more miserable.
4. Road Test - In this test the ROP officer sits in the co-drivers seat and gives instructions to test your driving skills on the road in traffic. Even a minor mistake or lapse earns a disqualification.
Failure in any test means a retest for which the requisite fee has to be deposited again and a fresh date for the test is allotted. One has to go back and practice again for that particular test. At present the waiting period in Muscat between two tests is 30 to 40 days. I cleared my drum test in the second attempt on 28 Feb 2009 and I have to appear for the Slope test on 16th March. Going by the present trend it seems unlikely that I will get a licence before May. Thankfully my company pays for 25 hours of driving classes. For any time spent learning/ practising beyond that, one has to foot the bill himself.
P.S. There is NO other way to obtain a driving licence in Oman unlike some other places I know !!