Digital ID expands reach, with more than 20% of population registered for UAE Pass

The platform is part of a push to make more government and private sector services available online in the Emirates


Launch event of Smart Dubai 2021 initiative.

Launched by His Highness Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, the initiative will seek to build on the achievements of the Dubai Smart City project. 
A key aspect of the initiative will be the end to paper transactions for Dubai Government as of 2021, building on the current move towards digital transactions.

The platform will compile all available data in both the public and private sectors, providing access for the first time to live and up-to-date data about the city.

The four-year Smart Dubai 2021 plan covers infrastructure, legislation and applications that the Dubai Smart Office and its affiliates have been successful in achieving in the course of the past three years. It represents the move into the next level of smart transformation, in line with the requirements of the Dubai 10X initiative and the UAE Centennial 2071.

Photo: Reem Mohammed / The National (Reporter: Nawal Al Ramahi  / Section: NA) ID 60110 *** Local Caption ***  RM_20170416_SMARTDXB_010.JPG
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The UAE is making strides in building a single digital identity platform for residents and citizens to securely obtain access to government and private sector services online.

More than two million people have been registered for the UAE Pass, representing more than a fifth of the population.

The digital ID scheme was launched in October 2018.

The UAE Central Bank approved its use for remote banking across the country and Western Union and Al Fardan Exchange were among the first to integrate UAE Pass for sending and receiving money online.

In recent years, people have used UAE Pass to access healthcare apps when booking Covid-19 vaccine appointments, among other services.

Here's how you get a digital Emirates ID while you wait for your new card

Here's how you get a digital Emirates ID while you wait for your new card

It also enables users to download a digital copy of their Emirates ID.

"UAE Pass has been and continues to be a participatory project that reflects co-operation," said Mohammed Al Zarooni, deputy director general of the information and digital government sector at the Telecommunication and Digital Regulatory Authority.

He said more than 180 federal, local and private entities now use UAE Pass, and it is integrated across more than 400 digital channels.

At the end of last year, Dubai government announced it had met its goal of going paperless, with all government services for employees, citizens and residents available online.

The emirate's goal is to digitalise every aspect of civic life for residents, including property management, banking and vehicle ownership.

The UAE Pass is a collaboration between Digital Dubai, Telecommunications and Digital Government, TDRA and the Abu Dhabi Digital Authority.

Set international standards

The evolving demands of a digital economy ― where public and private sector services can be accessed from a smartphone ― increasingly require that individuals be able to prove their identity in order to participate.

Proponents say that such digital ID systems can improve inclusivity to things like financial and government services and so 'digital identity' programmes have become a growing focus area of countries around the world, with numerous countries introducing national ID initiatives.

Singapore is among the world's leaders on this front, with more than half of its population using a digital identity. Its SingPass can be used to access more than 250 digital services from 60 government agencies, including filing taxes and applying for public housing online.

Elsewhere, countries are grappling with the security and privacy implications of centralising population data on a single platform.

Last year, the Kenyan High Court ruled that the introduction of a country-wide biometric ID scheme was illegal. Efforts to create digital ID schemes have similarly been delayed in the EU and US.

To begin to address these issues, a digital identity working group was established in 2020 that includes Australia, Canada, Finland, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, the Netherlands and the UK. The group is working to set international standards governing the digital identity space, like the infrastructure and security requirements, and if digital IDs should work across borders.

If security issues are addressed, then digital identity schemes are a critical component of modern economies, the World Economic Forum has said.

Updated: April 27, 2022, 6:00 AM