Probably the most talked about topic these days is the National Identity Card (besides the rent and traffic!!). I had been waiting eagerly to experience the entire process so that I could provide the facts.
The National Identity Card issued by Emirates Identity Authority is designed to be a single ID card that will eventually be used for all transactions across the UAE. The new card is supposed to have in-built smart features including biometrics and advanced ID features that will eventually eliminate the need to carry multiple cards.
Ever since the EIA announced the 31st December deadline for professional expats to register, there has been absolute chaos!!. Most of it driven by limited clarity and hence anxiety amongst the category. Till a few days back, it was understood that professional expats (and Emaratis) would be fined and may even have their back accounts frozen if they did not apply for the card by the deadline. The expats however heaved a sigh of relief when it was annouced on 19th November that the expats would not be fined if they did not catch the deadline.
Here are a few facts from my own experience in applying for the card.
The online application process was a drag. I probably tried about 20 times only to have my machine crawl to a stop. This was obviously on account of the thousands of expats scrambling to fill in the forms at the same time. The authorities have since made the form available at multiple points including several govt websites which makes the process easier.
I visited the main Al Barsha centre at about 5.00 am only to find about 150 people already in queue. Some of them had come in with chairs, mats and food stuff to keep themselves comfortable!!.
The centre promptly opened their doors at 7.30 am. and tokens were issued in an organised manner. The waiting areas are extremely comfortable and even had a vending machine inside. I was informed that my turn would come up later in the afternoon. From the moment I was called in to the time I stepped out, the experience was outstanding. The staff is extrmely courteous and efficient and the entire work flows was very smooth.
Hats off to the staff of EIDA for a job well done. While I agree that the website had some big issues with applying online and getting appointments, the entire process at the centre was very efficient.