ABU DHABI // Government officials hope new procedures will soon take most of the headache out of applying for mandatory national IDs, cutting the process down from hours to 10 minutes or less. In tandem with an increase in facilities that can process applications, the new process will link resident visa and ID data electronically through the appropriate government departments, officials said yesterday.
Two hundred new registration devices will be deployed to mobile centres that serve labourers, and children younger than 15 need not apply for the cards in person. McKee Cajes, 28, a creative designer who has been in Abu Dhabi for three years, said she had tried to get her card last year, but was turned away, and has avoided going back. She was sceptical of the Government's pledge to make the process easier, but said that "if it's true, I would go".
Dr Ali al Khouri, deputy head of the higher committee at Emirates Identity Authority (Eida), said it will open a centre in Abu Dhabi that will be bigger than the one in Al Mushrif. The existing 25 medical centres, where residents are tested before receiving their residency visas, will also serve as registration centres. Combining the residency visa renewal process with the ID cards "will help the authority to finish registering all residents in the country within three years", Dr al Khouri said.
"There will also be co-ordination with schools and universities to activate their role in students' registration," he said. Application forms are available online at www.emiratesid.ae. Beginning in April, they will also be available at various printing offices, where applicants can provide documents, fill out forms, pay fees and get appointments to visit a registration centre for the final steps.
Everyone in the country should be registered by the end of the year, officials said. The goal is to create a civil registry of Emiratis and residents in the country. More procedures will be introduced next month. Mayssoun Frieje, who arrived in Abu Dhabi five months ago, said she had found the previous application process easy and had spent just a few minutes waiting at the registration centre to obtain her ID card.
The card, she observed, "will be potentially useful." Others saw no reason for the system's hassle and expense. Gemma Lachica, who arrived in Abu Dhabi nine years ago from the Philippines, said she had printed and filled in the forms available online, but after handing them in, she said, "it took a whole week for them to get me the card". At Dh100 per year, she said, the cost of a card was too high. Worse, she said, she had not yet found a use for it.
* The National, with additional reporting by Matt Chung and Robert Peterson