Why you need an ID card

Follow the rules or pay the price says Thamer Al Qasemi, planning director for Emirates Identity Authority 21 Comments

© ITP Images
  • Picture 1 of 2

Ask friends about ID cards and you’ll most likely get this sort of response: ‘The deadline’s not until 2010; I’ll worry about it later.’ This is just the approach that annoys Thamer Al Qasemi, planning director for Emirates Identity Authority. Dubaians still seem to assume that ID cards will be forgotten about, but he says the truth is far different. ‘Apart from a few hundred latecomers, Emiratis are now all signed up. If you’re local and don’t have a card, you won’t receive all government services,’ he warns.

Emiratis were the first group who had to meet the ID deadline. Now it’s time for expats, and it quite clearly states on the Emirates ID website that professional expats (anyone with a degree) should have applied before February 2009. Most other industries follow on until June, then it’s the turn for unskilled workers until the end of September, followed by blue collar workers to the end of 2010.

Although no services have been withdrawn for expats who missed the February deadline, this softly, softly approach won’t last indefinitely. ‘Everyone will be complaining when there are queues at the centres,’ says Al Qasemi. ‘But the simple fact is this: in 2010, you will have a complete denial of government services, and there will be fines.’ Even banks and residency visas? ‘The law doesn’t specify what services. It just says “all services”. I don’t want to talk about specifics like banks and hospitals, but the law says everything.’

That’s still 18 months away, but there are some good reasons not to wait another 17 months to get your act together. Emiratis and professionals with degrees make up a small percentage of Dubai’s population. When it’s the turn of non-skilled workers and the blue collar sector to pick up their cards, hundreds of thousands will be going through the doors of the Emirates ID centres. ‘We have planned this for more than two years. It’s up to you to stick to the guidelines on the website,’ Al Qasemi warns.

Ah yes, the website. There are plenty of stories of people trying to book online appointments only to be told there are no spaces left. ‘Then just come to the centre,’ says Al Qasemi. ‘You’ll get a slot. The site is an add-on service,’ he explains. ‘Results have shown that 25 per cent of people who book online don’t show, so we need to allow people to drop in.’

One tip we’ve heard from friends is to go to other emirates to get a card, as the offices tend to be quieter. Al Qasemi agrees. ‘There is a new centre in Ras Al Khaimah, behind the police headquarters on Al Dhait Road.’

We ask Al Qasemi why they are so intent on delivering ID cards. ‘Accurate population statistics are vital,’ he says. ‘How can you plan for services if you don’t know the demographics of the area?’

What about the risk of data falling into the wrong hands? ‘No hacking tools can access the details, it has a counter-tamper and self-blocking facility; if stolen it can be immediately deactivated.’

Finally, does he believe his department will deliver a fully functioning system with everyone signed up by the final deadline? ‘We are confident that we can do it,’ he says. And if people don’t co-operate, what will happen? ‘We’ll go to plan B or C and get more strict.’ He laughs, but sounds like a man who means it.

How to get your card
Go to www.dubai.ae to book an appointment. Download the application form from the website free of charge, or buy it for Dhs40 from any Emirates Post office or the registration centres. Or turn up to any of Dubai’s four centres in Karama, Al Rashidiya, Barsha and Al Jafelia (see website for locations). Take your passport and application form. The card costs Dhs100 per year of visa validity, plus Dhs20 for Empost delivery.

By Jeremy Lawrence
Time Out Dubai,

User reviews:

Posted by: Eng. Thamer Al Qasemi - Emirates ID on 01 Jun ' 09 at 20:50

Thank you John, and its our pleasure in EIDA to clarify all the issues.

DAVID Wrote:
Why bother us with the whole ID thing, if your software is not available anywhere?????

the Card reading solution/software and readers have been available for years, and we even offer them for free, more that 70 entity have started using the solution and more coordinating, it take 1 hour of training to an IT geek and he can integrated the software with any system easily. Dubai Court has 150 counter equipped with the readers. as i have mentioned its a culture and change take some time, and we depend on you to spread the words. i assure you that its not EIDA readiness in question here, it’s the well of the government and private agencies and we are working hard to coordinate in order to make your life easier.

Finally, Mabrook, you have established your identity and no one can claim to be you :) and thank you for contributing in building the wealth informatic population register of the U.A.E

Posted by: Mr. Fedup on 01 Jun ' 09 at 20:10

Thank you Mr. Thamer Al Qasemi for your response. Most of it was very useful information and it is also very nice of you to apologise for the incompetance of others.

I still have a burning question that was not answered. "Why do Expats need "National ID" cards? Expats are temporay workers in this country. We have passports with visa's stamped on them and labour cards."

Posted by: John on 30 May ' 09 at 17:49

Thank you Mr. Thamer for your posted message. When Government officials come forward to explain on expat websites like this is is very helpful to set the correct tone and foster understanding of procedures, etc.

Posted by: David on 30 May ' 09 at 04:34

Psssst, we booked an appointment in Umm al Quwain for just after noon and there was no one there. We were done in about 45 minutes and there was no one waiting when we left.

I asked if this was a good time every week and didn't get a straight answer just "that" smile.

Posted by: Suzan on 28 May ' 09 at 16:33

I spoke to an EIDA employee and was told that if you didn't get my ID cards then i won't be able to leave the country, and that all my paper works will be stopped!!! and no gov institute will deal with me. bla bla bla

Ever since i got the card, i've NEVER been able to use it any where. It's NOT accepted, because they can not extract the information from it; since they don't have the necessary equipment :(

So why bother us with the whole ID thing, if your software is not available any where?????

Posted by: DeluXe on 28 May ' 09 at 14:45

I went to the Umm al Quwain Center recently, had booked an appointment, was there an hour early. The center was completely empty, I could walk straight through and was done in 20mins. They were all super friendly there. 1 week later I received the card. No hazzle at all. It was worth the 1 hour drive!

Posted by: Shaun on 28 May ' 09 at 08:15

Booked appointment for Al Barsha 4 months ago - last night was the date given. In & out within one hour for a family of four. Very quiet & no problems - although the fingerprinting is very ott. 780dhs for a family for 3 years - just another way that Dubai is taxing you. My advice - get it done now before they use it as an excuse to deport you!!

Posted by: Thamer Al Qasemi - EIDA on 27 May ' 09 at 20:54

FROM EIDA, Eng. Thamer Al Qasemi, hope it helps :)
1. Pre-registration 40 AED, too expensive!!
a. EIDA offer this for people that do not know how to use a computer, and this cost charged by third party and not EIDA. What EIDA did was to mandate limiting the cost to 40 as some typing centres were charging up to 100AED just to type and print the form. Anyway EIDA offer the form free of charge on its website and it can be filled within 10 minutes at your home. So the choice is yours beloved customer.
2. Open a new account at bank requires a passport!!
a. You are absolutely right, and EIDA working with central bank to overcome this procedural issue and we are confident to overcome shortly. We also announced that this sort of enforcement will take some time at other sectors, and we asked our customers to log a complaint about any government or private sector institute that does not accept the card and we make sure that they do after that, else they will face legal consequences for not apply Federal Law # 9 of 2006. Patient friends and magic will happen with your support.
3. What is the return on our part?
a. Protecting your identity is priceless, and establishes a unique identity cross all government and private sector sure will add value to expedite the services given to you by all service provides. However you are also participating in establishing the UAE population register and this will contribute toward better planning for all of us, thus on behalf of all Thank You for registering.
4. All the information the government needs is already there. It’s money making scheme like Salik!!
a. It’s sad that you think about the UAE government in such a way. Remember “Tax Free”. The authority was established before Salik was planned, and this cost barley cover the actual direct cost of the card, and we made it even affordable for kids below 15 (its 50 AED flat rate).
5. Only criminals are fingerprinted the way it is done by Emirates ID!!
a. Fingerprints are essential part of overruling someone from becoming you. So once again you are not criminal, and we are protecting you and others from criminals and from anyone else try to clam to be you. We are federal civilian organization, and if you want to talk about criminal then Ministry of Interior is the organization you need to talk to.
6. Disappointing thing is that I couldn't get my e gate guard incorporated onto the i.d. card last week and it was suggested this facility may not be available til next year. What about the driving licence? Mine has to be renewed later in the year.
a. We assure you that it will not take more that 1-2 weeks for the egate offices to be ready to activate your UAE ID Card with the e-gate service, for your information it’s going to be cheaper for you now, and thanks to the UAE ID Card, we deliver as we commit. Driving Lic information will be incorporated to the ID chip, and we are working with the entities to define the driver lic data. For now you will have to renew your Lic as you use to do.
7. What about renewals, call centre gave me different stories
a. Sorry for the inconvenient from the call centre, i am forwarding this to them in order to assure continual improvements, renewals are easier, we have dedicated lines for this and no need for appointment or waiting time, all what you need is your ID card (you must have done it within 7 working days from expiry, but we will forgive you if you go within the next 7 working days only), also you will need your residency stamp in order for us to scan it, the information has been received by EIDA already. In this process you have the right to update your picture, your ID Pin, and contact details if it changed.
8. Emirates post delay; why the hurry to apply when they take so longs at their end?
a. We apologies for the delay, we are keen to avoid this issue in the future, and we have held multiple meeting to improve on this outsourced service, and things appears to be promising lately. We hope that everyone understand that rush are only caused when deadline are approaching, and this cause inconvenient to you and to us, and we hope that people will respect the deadline. We promise to do all we can to avoid this, also you log a complaint on our website and we are pledged to resolve it within 5 working days so that you have a happy face.
9. Changed my visa; does the ID still stand - or in "Time Honoured Dubai Money Making Scheme Tradition" is it now invalid and we have to get another set?
a. No it does not stand, and it was terminated immediacy with your visa status change as we get automatic update, we are sorry that you lost your job, and glad that you are still with us. You and your beloved wife must approach the nearest centre to update the information and get new cards.
10. Why can't the government use the information from our drivers license
a. Cause it’s mandated that EIDA establish your Identity and link it to strong characteristics such as your photo, fingerprints, and unified personal data in a very secure and state of the art technology based on one identifier “ID Number”. And this information from now on should be made available to those that have legislation in unique and fast way without the need of another document. See Dubai Court, very good example. So am like you, now that i have my identity established by trusted authorized government body, i don’t want anyone to bother me and ask me to carry another mean of ID to get access to services. However this is a new culture and concept introduced to this country and we need your support to share and promote the usage of the ID card wherever you go.
11. What about if I'm not yet registered for an appointment? If I was not able to register before the due date, would I be sanctioned?
a. We hope that you respect the deadline and come forward; you do not want to be mixed with the unskilled labour in lines!! The appointment system delivered more than 90,000 appointments up to now and we plan to increase the slots, but we needed to analyze the service as we are the first government agency in the UAE to implement it. As i have mentioned centres are busy when deadlines are approaching so let’s not make this a habit.

Posted by: HS on 27 May ' 09 at 12:28

Seriously, what's the point??? 40 dirhams for a bloody form!!! The whole thing is way too expensive with no returns.

Posted by: Dr Sahar Kharrufa on 27 May ' 09 at 08:54

I got my ID card about two months ago. I thought good, now I wont have to drag my bulky passport around wherever I go. Next time I went to the bank I took my brand new ID card, and passport just in case. I wanted to open a new account. When the clerk asked me for my passport I gave her my card of course. She smiled and said sorry, no can do, only passports accepted. I though OK, private institutions aren't up to speed yet. Next job, renew my car registration. Took the ID card with me and guess what. Ya, your right, they wont accept it either. Question, why are we being dragged to do this. If its information the government wants we can give it to them in a much faster way without the card. It took me about an hour and a half to fully register my family and cost me around 1000dhm. What is the return on our part?

Posted by: PC on 27 May ' 09 at 08:23

Dropping in to an ID office CAN work:
My wife and I went to ID office the Al Tawuun Mall in Sharjah right at 7AM one morning, with our forms all ready and no appointment. We were all done before 10AM, nice and easy, just a bit of waiting. Well worth getting up early and having a bit of a drive. Very refreshing after several failed attempts with the online appointment system. Make sure you have your forms all filled and printed with the barcodes using the pre-registration app from the website.

Posted by: Mr. Fedup on 27 May ' 09 at 07:49

Why do Expats need "National ID" cards? Expats are temporay workers in this country. We have passports with visa's stamped on them and labour cards. All the information the government needs is already there. Furthermore numerous passport copies and photographs have been collect when dealing with anything from banking to driving license. So why not just collect that information together? The way I see it, this is just another money making scheme like Salik and also a way for them to fingerprint every person in the country. Only criminals are fingerprinted the way it is done by Emirates ID

Posted by: Mary on 27 May ' 09 at 07:17

With all the good intention to finally finish with the formalities I went to Karama center with my enveloppe and the barcode document. to be nicely told by the officer at information desk, sorry madam come next month it is too busy nowadays, as they give a limited number of slots per day!
could goverment improve this.. to make sure we can accomplish the formalities without having to queue everyday up very early to get A chance to be on the few slots allocated each day..
When you are working and have responsabilities you cant waste so much of your free time and working hours because there are not enough locations or staff to accomodate all applicants

Posted by: alec emmerson on 27 May ' 09 at 07:15

There is really no excuse for professionals not to just turn up at a centre and get the card issued. I am at the Courts quite a bit and it seems that people like to see the i.d. card in preference to a passport.
the disappointing thing is that I couldn't get my e gate guard incorporated onto the i.d. card last week and it was suggested this facility may not be available til next year. What about the driving licence? Mine has to be renewed later in the year.

Posted by: Rajiv on 27 May ' 09 at 07:10

Dear Tolits,

Go to any center .. they are accepting walk-in, as the rush has come down.
Suggest go to centers which are located in other emirates as Dubai still has larger pollution so you will have some waiting period.
Go get your EIDA card..


Posted by: Paul on 27 May ' 09 at 07:04

What about renewals. I got my card late last year and it has now expired at the date of my visa expiry. I now have a new visa but do I have to go through the whole process again? When I have called the helpline I have received different advice.

Posted by: bo on 27 May ' 09 at 06:33

what 'service' are they talking about ?

Posted by: David on 27 May ' 09 at 06:14

Emirates Airline deals with many millions of customers daily yet I have just received the postal reply from Emirates ID that was posted 16th Nov. I visited one of the ID centres to chase my application but there was no coordination between Emirates ID and the people handling the applications so no one could tell me of its status. Even when I visited Emirates post office they just said its under process, just wait...
more than six months! I seem to wonder why the hurry to apply when they take so long their end?

Posted by: Mike Silvester on 27 May ' 09 at 05:53

My wife and I were model citizens and got our ID cards in February of this year.

Now we have both lost our jobs and therefore my Residence Visa from the company (and the wifes husband visa).

Luckily we own a property in Dubai and got an "Investment Visa" to tide us over until I find another job.

My question is - does the ID still stand - or in "Time Honoured Dubai Money Making Scheme Tradition" is it now invalid and we have to get another set?

Posted by: anna stanley on 27 May ' 09 at 02:07

I've been to the center twice and both times the computers were down. Both times we had made appointments and showed up at the right time. My husband and I have wasted hours trying to get these ID cards. Why can't the government use the information from our drivers license?? It's the exact same information.

Posted by: tolits on 25 May ' 09 at 11:54

What about if I'm not yet registered for an appointment? I am always doing it but it says no more available day of appointments. If I was not able to register before the due date, would I be sanctioned? Please I need an advice regarding on this matter as this is really essential! Thanks.

Add your review/feedback

Subscribe to Daily Dubai newsletter

Prove you're not a robot:


The Knowledge

Antonio Banderas and Game Of Thrones star in Dubai
Oct 4

Actor Antonio Banderas and Game Of Thrones actress Maisie Williams will be in Dubai this October

5 things to do today in Dubai
Oct 4

Take a daycation or attend A Club night out

5 things to do tomorrow in Dubai
Oct 4

Try all-you-can-eat-and-drink at Fibber Magee’s or see an art exhibition


Sign up now
latest issue TIME OUT KIDSOut now!
latest issue EATING OUT GUIDEOut now!