Illustration by Tala Nassar
Renting a car on campus can be a confusing experience. The rental car booth on the ground floor of the Campus Center operates within certain parameters specific to the university, but it must abide by elements of UAE law that are non-negotiable even vis-a-vis the university’s aegis.
Now, following the start of the new calendar year, renting or buying a car has become much more expensive, the result of increased prices for many driving-related administrative processes.
By official policy, the rental car booth in the Campus Center can technically only rent to an extremely small fraction of NYU Abu Dhabi students. Outside of the window when residence visas are being processed, students must hold a UAE license to rent a car as a formal UAE resident, a process with decidedly more hoops than renting as a UAE tourist. Under visitor status, renting a car is possible without much hassle. As visitors, customers with licenses from countries such as the UK, USA, China, Japan and many European Union countries do not require an international or local license to rent a car.
For residents, the rule for UAE residents to hold a UAE license is non-negotiable.
In terms of renting costs for residents, the price of obtaining a UAE license, as well as many other driving-related administrative costs, has risen since the new year. Before Jan. 1, the cost of transferring a foreign license into a UAE license was only 200 AED, but it is now 600 AED. Additionally, because holding a UAE license is absolutely necessary to rent a car after visas have been issued, the high cost of obtaining a UAE license, on top of the regular cost of renting a car, may make other options more appealing. Indeed, many costs associated with registering a car and other traffic related incidents have also risen since the new year.
Looking to long-standing renting hurdles, students are still supposed to be at least 21 and, if able to use their home country’s license because their visa has not yet finished processing, their home license should be at least one year old.
While this age restriction regulation appears to rule even more NYUAD students ineligible, rental agents on campus are sometimes able to make exceptions at their own discretion if other conditions are satisfied. In such cases, both the renter and the rental agent assume higher levels of liability, as often the insurance for the driver will either be much more expensive or unavailable entirely and the rental agent may be held personally liable if something goes wrong.
Therefore, the best – and possibly only – time that most students will be able to easily rent a car is the first few weeks of the year when visas have not yet been processed.
The status of students who have been issued a UAE visa in the past but are awaiting a new visa is less clear than students waiting to receive their first UAE visa. If all else fails, the best thing to do is simply to talk to the Europcar rental agent in the Campus Center near the East Forum and see if any exceptions can be made.
Herbert Crowther is News Editor. Email him at [email protected]