Deadline day scramble to re-register Sim cards across the UAE

Deadline applies to du and Etisalat customers who received an SMS asking them to register before Thursday.

Customers wait to register their Sim cards at an Etisalat booth in Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National
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DUBAI// Queues began to build slowly today as mobile customers made a last minute push to register their Sim cards before their phones are blocked.

The deadline applied only to those who had received SMS alerts from du or Etisalat asking them to register as part of the My Number, My Identity campaign.

“We had about 2,000 people come through the centre on Wednesday and we are expecting a similar amount today,” said Homer Mendoza, a retail sales executive at du’s centre in Mall of the Emirates.

“Although every member of staff is helping people with the registration we also have two desks set up solely for this purpose to speed things up.”

Queues began to form before the centre opened for business, he said. There was a lull in numbers late in the morning before more people began to arrive after lunch.

“Today is the last day so we are expecting it to be busy,” he said.

Some customers received an alert only 24 hours before today’s deadline and rushed to register.

“I only found out that I had to register when I got the text on Wednesday,” said Hamad Hassan, from Pakistan.

“I would have done it sooner but I didn’t know I had to.”

Rushabh Shah, from India was helping a friend to sign up. “Luckily we came at the right time so it will only take 20 minutes,” he said.

Although his colleague had not received an SMS he was worried his phone would be blocked if he did not register by Thursday.

Queues at the mall’s Etisalat outlet were longer, with separate queues for men and women each around 20 people deep.

Staff were asking people to queue only if they had received a text alert.

“Although people who have not been sent the SMS are being registered, we are advising them there’s no rush and they don’t need to register today,” said a member of staff.

“This way the wait is not as long for those who need to get it done today.”

The Sim registration campaign was launched by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority last year to crack down on the fraudulent use of Sim cards.

People who received an SMS asking them to sign up but have not done so will have their phones initially blocked from making calls and sending text messages.

Handsets will be completely blocked in three months if they have still failed to register. However, phones will be unblocked almost immediately once Sim cards have been registered.

The next batch of subscribers will be contacted via SMS by du and Etisalat to register. They have three months to do so.

The process requires customers to fill in an application form and present a valid passport, residency visa or Emirates or GCC identity card.

Subscribers who have not received text alerts can also register by following the same procedure.

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