A few days ago, this story from the ToO was published which has some pretty big repercussions for people wanting to ride motorbikes here in the Sultanate. Now there's really two groups of people that this effects: Expats that want to ride bikes for leisure, and expats who want to ride bikes for work (eg delivery drivers).
Now, the reason for the rule change is because people have been taking the piss and getting a learner license and just never taking the test to get a full license. Think about it - how many delivery drivers have you seen on L plates? Lots I'm guessing.
The ToO article quotes a Colonel from the ROP who is head of the License Department as saying, "In case of expatriates, bikes are no longer to be registered without the prospective owner having a valid, permanent Omani driving license for motorbikes. Even if a person has got the learner's license, the bike still cannot be transferred in his name. Permanent license is a must!"
Which means that you're out of luck if you were thinking about buying a bike and learning how to ride - you can't buy a bike unless you have a full bike license and you can't take a road test to get a full license unless you have a bike registered in your name. A nice little catch 22.
I've searched, and been unable to find, for a list of transferable licenses. I know the story for cars, but I don't know what it is like for motorbikes. Logic suggests that if you can show your home country car driving license and get an Omani one issued (and just do the eye test) then if you have a motorbike license from the same home country perhaps they'll issue you with an Omani one and then you just carry on with the registration of a motorbike and go on your merry way. But I don't know if that is the case.
Coming back to the group of people that have been taking the piss with the learner licenses; the delivery drivers (mostly but not exclusively), this rule change hurts them the most. Those that already have learner licenses AND bikes registered in their name will be able to take the test to get a permanent license, but those who have learner licenses who are riding company bikes.... no dice. The bike they take the test on has to be registered in their name.
Now this is a bit of a heavy handed approach to the situation as it's going to stifle business of delivery services (be it food or something else) that use motorbikes. The ToO article even goes on to publish a whinge from a few catering business owners. Well... why are you employing people to work for you on learner licenses in the first place?
I'd say this whole thing could be fixed by making one small change in the old system - once you get your learners license, you have, for example, 6 months to take your test (and pass) - if not, your license is revoked.
Things as they are right now, for the businesses that sell motorbikes, must be pretty dire because now they can only sell bikes to Omani's, or people who already have a valid Omani motorbike license. Speaking of, Harley Davidson are launching their new Street 750 motorbike this week on the 30th of April at Al Makan Cafe in Qurum..... bit of unfortunate timing I'd say.
Ho hum. I always flirted with getting a Harley, I guess I won't bother now!