Time Out caught up with four expats trying to sign up for a mandatory UAE ID card.
Becky Lucas and Jeremy Lawrence
Francesca Coetzer, 29, South African
‘I arrived at the Emirates Identity Authority (EIA) centre in Al Barsha centre at 4.45am last week. There were already 111 people there, some with sleeping bags, flasks, the whole deal. I wasn’t seen until 5.15pm. I wasn’t able to book an appointment online, November is now fully booked and December shall be first come, first served. Even those with appointments had to wait three hours. Every UAE local went straight in. In the morning there were two people serving. Later there were up to six. But it took 15 minutes for them to take my finger prints – they have no idea how the system works. They still have to send me the card – they had no idea how long that will take.’
Kate Douglas, 25, British
‘I think the ‘head in the sand’ is the best approach. There is no way they are going to sort everyone with ID cards by January 1 – they’ll have to push back the deadline and reorganise the completely disorganised system. I tried to book an appointment, but it just said ‘Booking failed’ for every time slot I chose. Now that the local banks have said they’re not freezing accounts of people without ID registration come January, I’m even less worried. My company hasn’t told us what’s happening – they’re still waiting to get directions back from Abu Dhabi. And if they can’t be bothered to tell us what to do – how can they punish us when we don’t do it?’
Mena Tadros, 29, Egyptian-Canadian
‘I have one – but it is purely because I have an excellent secretary. She sorted out the application form from the EIA website, and attached my visa and labour card copies. Then I went to my appointment in Al Barsha, where they took my finger prints and picture and I had it all done in five minutes. But I think it was only so quick because I did it two months ago – before the rush.’
‘It took me two weeks to register online, finally, after the website stopped crashing. Then when I did manage to book an appointment, every time I go down there, I’m told to come back in a few hours as they’re way too busy. That’s happened three times now. I’m not sure how to avoid it. I think it’s madness!’
What’s the drill?
Members of the public can buy special envelopes (priced at Dhs40) from post offices, containing a registration form which can be filled in and submitted to any post office counter. Emirates Post will then send the completed forms to the applicant through their PO Box, giving the date on which they can go to the EID centre to submit the form.