Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ministry for Clarification of Clarifications

I’m glad that the situation regarding the requirement for an Emirates ID Card has been clarified. Previously, as reported on the EIDA website, in the local press, and also here on this blog, it was not going to be possible for residents (both Emirati and expatriate) to do anything offical without one:

“...the Ministry of Interior made it mandatory for all residents (both Emiratis and expatriates) in four northern emirates to have an ID card from November 22, 2009, to avail [themselves] of its services, except for visa renewal.”

Today’s Gulf News tells us that there is “ immediate plan to deny any government services — especially to expatriates — for not having identity cards...”

I guess the problem is that whilst since 1 April 2009, it “...was mandatory [for Emiratis who wished] to access government services...all government departments have not followed it strictly...”

That would be such as in when I registered my motorcycle, and was required to produce my passport and visa copy instead of my ID card.

Inevitably, having discovered that without one it would be impossible to function in the UAE is a falsehood, there are plenty of residents who have simply not bothered with the ID card. Indeed, Gulf News states: “People without ID cards continue to have access.”

Today’s newspaper announcement includes an announcement that “...the new enrolment strategy...will be announced within two weeks." So not today, then.

At last, the EIDA has caught on to the idea that processing several million people involves a whole heap of effort. It was obviously not possible to anticipate this, and a couple of years passed before the Authority decided that “...expatriates will soon be able to simultaneously apply for a residence visa, labour card and ID card through a unified application form.” And this will be undertaken“ primary health centres."

Who can have failed to notice that combining the ID card process with the existing Residence Visa and Labour Card was perhaps a sensible way to proceed? Only the MoI and the EIDA, apparently. But huzzah! At last, light dawns over Marblehead. The dirham drops.

But it’s not going to happen until “...the third quarter of this year, Dr Ali Al Khoury, Acting Director General of EIDA told Gulf News.”

I suspect that within a very few years, the mandatory ID card for expatriates will be quietly forgotten. We have already moved from No government services after 22 November 2009 to No immediate plan to deny any government services, and it’s a small step from here to dropping the ID card idea completely. It will of course remain necessary to produce a passport and visa copy in order to do anything with officialdom, and the ID card will be an optional extra; the option doubtless being decided at random by the ministerial underling, based on what documents are to hand, in order to maximise inconvenience.

Every expat of course has a passport and visa. Only Emiratis within the UAE might conceivably not possess passports, and for this reason, their having some alternative official form of identification seems to be a good idea.

And why the ID card requires any more than a name, mugshot and expiry date is a mystery. My need to register my car, open a bank account or have a mobile phone should not in any way be influenced by what pantheon I may or may not choose to recognise, so the need for my religion to be encoded is unclear.

The Gulf News article, from which I have extensively quoted, is here.



the real nick said...

I hate to tell you so but having known this country off and on for thirteen years I never bothered getting the ID card. [Had it turned out that I'd need a card my plan B was to drive to Umm Al Quain where one could get an appointment within days.]

Grumpy Goat said...

Actually, trN, I did my ID card application in UAQ. Arriving at 7:30 I was in and out in 20 minutes, and the card arrived chez moi a week later.

Not that it's been any use.

No, I tell a lie: I used it in lieu of a passport last weekend, while on a short road trip to the Hatta Fort Hotel and Hatta Pools. Four security checkpoints.

The Yellow Box Of Doom said...

Oh the list of reasons I am happy i got out of there continue to grow......

Ian the Dog said...

Well, it was a nice morning out at UAQ, enhanced (of course) by the proximity of the EIDA office to the Barracuda. But what about the much-vaunted and now hastily-forgotten Primary Health Care thing? Both grossly mis-managed.
However, the Govt are desperate to know exactly what everyone is paid, by forcing the banks to collect the info, and forcing us to use the banks. Conspiracy theorists assume this is the prequel to income tax, rather than simply to ensure workers get paid.
I reserve judgement.

Grumpy Goat said...

Magnus frater spectat te.


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