Loose nothing to translation - more paperwork fun.

As with all countries, all bureaucracy begins and then relies on the quality of its paperwork - and here is no exception.

The added degree of difficulty in Abu Dhabi though is that unless you are coming from an Arabic speaking country, you will be requested to get a couple of your hard found documents (See the survival guide) translated into Arabic.

"No Big deal" says I. "I'll just walk around until I find a shop that does it"

So, full of confidence and with suitable walking shoes on, I hit the street and found a store that said "Translations while you wait" or something like it, not 10 minutes from the front door of the hotel.

"HAH!" I said as opened the door to the little shop "Translation done - nothing but internet cafe's and facebook for the rest of the day"

errr.. no. No that's not quite how it ended up.

My 'Concern gland' started to acting up almost immediately, but my inherent politeness got in the way - and I found myself sitting in an under-stuffed couch in a very small office with 2 guys both discussing whether or not they could do it, I think.

Generally speaking, and I may only be doing a little too much free thinking here: If you open a translation business, and advertise that translation business by stating on your front window - in English - that you do translations, then - call me old fashioned if you will, dear reader - surely it shouldn't be too much of a stretch to hope that I would get some, TRANSLATION done when I stride smiling through your door.

After 20 minutes of talking, 10 minutes of waiting for "the other guy" to get back from doing whatever he was doing, then 5 minutes of "other guy" politely but sternly informing his co-workers that he too wasn't really able to help, I left.

Not before enjoying some fun conversation about who I was and where I was from, and a couple of helpful hints for my pronunciation of my limited Arabic vocabulary - tips I am still grateful for to this day.
Turns out that while they COULD translate - they couldn't translate to legal specifications, and that I should try to find someone who could.

I decided to scratch my internet itch AND restore my confident strut by telling myself that I needed to do some "research", and that research required my finding an internet cafe and availing myself of their coffee making facilities.

I did both.

Then got sucked into the email-facetube-"where does this link go" vortex for 2 hours.

I struggled back the point of the "research" (which I intend to do with this post shortly as well) by asking an online forum where a good legal translator could be found.

The response?

Hamdan St.

That would have been perfectly helpful if Hamdan street was 300 metres long - but it's not, it's one of the main roads across the business section of the island.

I rephrased my question to "Where in Hamdan Street is best for document translation?"
"Near the hospital" was the short but only slightly more helpful reply - there are many hospitals spread over a long-ish distance on Hamdan.

My third try (while restraining myself from napalming the forum with frustrated rantings) requested information on which specific hospital the translators may be located near, and somehow I managed to keep my famous dislike of obtuse forum junkies from colouring my post... a feat in itself.

The answer?

Al Noor hospital.

Al Noor.

6 letters that would have helped out in the initial reply, and if coupled with the term "near" would have made a total of 10 extra letters, or 12 keystrokes if you include the spaces. Unfortunately some information needs to be cajoled from the keepers of the keys - like some kind of "ex-pat initiation rite" that stops new ex-pats from forgetting their place.

Can't let 'them' (new arrivals) have it easy now can we? NO they must fall dishevelled and broken at the feet of the oracles, awaiting the scraps of knowledge that fall from their mouths. Once each scrap is acquired the apprentice scrabbles off to a darkened corner to worship each new piece. Some of these acolytes go on to farm and share their crop.. others take the dark path, and in time rule their own plot, and ask tribute from passers by before offering the scraps from their own festive board... laughing in the darkness of their empty halls...mwaahahahahahhaaaa haaaaaaa haaaaaaaah *cough* haaaaah haaah.

ooops .. a patented Abudhabilist digression... back to the point.

Al Noor hospital is off Hamdan Street, between 4th and 2nd streets on the "sea" side of Hamdan. The turn off for Al Noor is the first on the right after 4th, or if you are coming from the other side of 2nd, do a U turn at the lights at 4th, then take the first right.

OR even easier is to hop in a cab and ask them to deliver you to Al Noor hospital (or in Arabic: Mustashfa Al Noor, Hamdan) and you'll be dropped at the front door.

While I knowthat this is a long winded description of how to get to the area.. once at the door of the hospital it's easy.

The hospital entrance is situated on a T intersection, so if facing the entrance turn around, and keeping the Al Noor at your back head on up the short road that leads back to Hamdan St.

There are a few legal-spec translators on this little street, but the one we used is Linguist House - and can be found (if walking away from the hospital) on the left side, across the road and up a bit from Al Yousef Bakery (worth a trip while you are waiting - or even if you are not) and is situated next to Al Noor translating service, in fact at a glance it looks like it could be the same place.

Driving licences and Short documents are usually - USUALLY - done on a while you wait basis, and if that's the case it's a good excuse to go and grab a tasty treat from the bakery across the road.

HOWEVER if they can't do it while you wait don't get all fruity about it - and for the love of everything that's good don't try negotiating with the fine people behind the counter by suggesting that some bald headed blogger said that stuff absolutely and categorically gets translated while you wait.

For 2 reasons (apart from the issue of looking foolish):
1: It's highly unlikely that they will have a clue who I am.
2: Acting all uppity is the easiest way to PROLONG an ultimately negative result rather than promote a positive one.

Larger documents usually take a day to translate - or at least that was what my wife was told when dropping off a marriage certificate. It actually took about 6 hours, from drop off to phone call - which was a pleasant surprise.

SO, no matter what the document you need translated is, it's best to allow a day and be surprised than expect an hour and be all antsy about it.

Even better, get all the stuff you could possibly need to get translated within the first few days of arriving so that when required, the documents will be copied and ready to roll, leaving the document holder taking a trip to the main street of Smug-ville, where coffee is plentiful (although somewhat crap) and angels sing as they take flight though the hazy morning light.

There are MANY other translation services in Abu Dhabi - but this is the one WE used and the one we continue to employ when we have a need.

All our documents thus far have not exceeded 80dhs - but ask for a quote.

Contact details for Linguist house can be found at

1 comment:

  1. Sarah Scott15:03

    Thank you very much for the article.. and you were right, I went to LinguistHouse and they translated my driving license in 5 minutes.. I had also my marriage certificate and two birth certificates and they have translated them on the same day.. The Company I work for is now translating its contracts and other documents at LinguistHouse, and believe me these people are very professional, they respect their deadlines, they have competitive rates.. not to mention the very kind and welcoming people working there!!


Andrew Webber is a writer, living in Abu Dhabi with his wife, two cats and two dogs.

His first book "Erasure" was published in June 2012 and was followed in 2013 by the Prequel to Erasure, "Broken".

In 2016 Erasure was a prize winner in the Montegrappa Writing Prize - part of the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature.

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