Sunday, 18 July 2010


The Domesday Book from Andrews, William: “Hist...Image via Wikipedia
This morning I underwent the annual ritual, The Attestation of the Tenancy Contract. I have never found it so straightforward, but then I've had a decade and a half to get my act together and prepare for the process. The annual Hunting For Every Possible Document You Might Ever Need ritual having been carried out, I'm good to go down to the government office at the Sharjah Vegetable Market.

The Attestation of the Tenancy Contract ritual is characterised by two things. One is that the rules change quite frequently. The second is that whatever documents you amass, you'll always find one that you hadn't expected or known was required, resulting in a disappointed drive home to regroup for another try.

The office that deals with such things has been transformed in recent years and is now a smart, marble-floored, airconditioned building with comfortable seats and a ticketed waiting system. We are now 'customers'. The surly looking bloke at the Information Desk scanned my wodge of Every Possible Document You Might Ever Need and looked momentarily disheartened. My heart raced. Had I done it? Had I finally beaten the system?

"Landlord passport copy."

This was awful. I had an attested copy of our marriage certificate, both passport copies, last year's contract, the landlord's ownership paper, our electricity bill and a photocopy of the page in the Domesday book that mentions my family. They'd never asked for the landlord's passport copy before.

And then I realised. He was just pissed because I had every document under the sun. I looked him straight in the eye. "I don't have it."

He grunted and gave me a ticket. I couldn't believe it - I was right! And I was through! Home free! I nearly danced to the girl behind the counter when my number was called. Which is when I found out that Sarah's passport copy included her old visa and we needed her new visa. Luckily I could get it faxed over and so my documents were duly scanned into the system, a considerable amount of money jemmied out of my wallet and our tenancy duly recognised in the eyes of the law. I do like the way that a sum charged by a government based on a percentage of a transaction is referred to as a fee here - presumably so we can remain 'tax free'...

Of course, the potty thing about the whole rigmarole is that it is all completely unnecessary. The majority of these documents were issued by the government in the first place and are certainly held on multiple government systems. The most basic integration of such systems would allow databases to cross-relate each document. Even in an environment where this were not possible (for instance, because of the complete lack of integration of any government system despite years of biffling on about e-government but little actually doing anything meaningful about it), you could save an awful lot of hassle by allowing people to scan the documents and send 'em over along with payment on Visa. It wouldn't be a complicated job. It's the sort of thing the Internet has turned out to be quite good at doing...

But then I'm running before I walk again. At least we've moved forward to a single point of transaction - there used to be twelve separate, discrete steps to renewing a tenancy contract, many of which consisted of removing the staple, shuffling the papers and then restapling them. Each of those steps used to involve long queues and shuffling, jostling crowds.

And at least now we're 'customers'. Whatever that means.

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ghoonk said...

Tell me about it. I'm trying to get my marriage certificate attested, and I've gotten it attested at my country's consulate here in Dubai. The consulate assures me that the process is that straightforward - consulate stamps, go to Ministry of Foreign Affairs somewhere in Bur Dubai, they stamp, and that's it.

But nooooo, turns out that in the past, I needed to get the copy of the marriage certificate stamped in my country by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs AND the UAE embassy (which charges a hefty fee for a simple stamp), THEN bring it back here, get it stamped by my emmbassy/consulate AND the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Now I'm being told by the gentleman at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dubai that I need the document stamped by the MFA in my country AND the embassy/consulate here (for whatever the reason, I fail to comprehend that logic).

Did someone not get the memo, or is the wrong version running around?

Is there some agency I can call who can get this sorted out for me? The whole process is frustrating and doing my head in, and I've been taking time out from a busy period at work to get this sorted out...

Mita said...

Bureaucratic red tape refined and taken to a whole new level! Wish I had a pair of scissors!

rosh said...

It hurts just reading! I feel your pain Alex. Though must admit, dad always hired the right folks and /or had the best Wasta in town. GUILTY. I don't think things shall change this lifetime. For some reason, they don't like to simplify and make life easier for everybody. And those who'd like to bring forth change are pushed out or "transferred".

Susan said...

Ach, bureaucracy - makes me want to kill someone lol!! Now try bureaucracy AND PMS - there will be casualties!

fourstar said...

Isn't it just a massive job creation scheme to keep the friends and family of the ruling class in gainful and presumably quite well-paid employment?

I don't live there (my in-laws do) but when I wanted to drive on one particular visit, I spent a very 'amusing' couple of hours being sent from one desk to another with both parts of my UK driving licence, my visa, proof of my UK address, car insurance, mother's maiden name, my passport, my in-laws residency document and proof of car ownership, only to be told by one clerk that my UK licence was good enough and I didn't need a UAE one after all, only for his colleague to disagree and them then argue for 20 minutes.

Eventually, they asked me for 100dhs 'processing fee' and sent me away, none the wiser.

Anonymous said...

Try getting a Power of Attorney letter in Russian witnessed... sorry the post is so long...


8.00am: Arrive at British Embassy

8:05am: Searched, mobile phone and portable hard drive removed

8:10am: Ticket 008 in the consular section

8:25am: 008 flashes up on screen. Enter booth. Explain that I need my signature witnessing on a Russian legal document, which, as per earlier visit, now has an attached and stamped English translation, as requested.

8:27am: Confusion of consular official.

8:29am: Senior consular official arrives. Explain again.

8:30am: SCO explains that they can only witness my signature on the English translation.

8:31am: I explain, with the forced smile that undertakers give corpses, that the Russian court are only interested in my signature on the RUSSIAN document, and that their attesting to something in English will only work if I then have the document translated back into Russian, and attested once more.

8:31am: I am asked to pay Dhs.135

8:32am: SCO volunteers that they could put a 'stamp of recognition' at the bottom of the original document.

8:33am: I agree, whatever a 'stamp of recognition' is. I don't know and I suspect neither will the Russian authorities.

8:35am: Entertain a fantasy about making my own offical stamps out of cut potatoes and an ink pad.

8:36am: Passport taken away, and photocopied when I ask if I can take it away with me.

8:37: 'Come back tomorrow between 9 and 10'

8:38am: 'Can't I just take it away with me now? You've seen me sign it?'

8:39am: 'No."

8:42am: Retrieve mobile and portable hard drive.

8:43am: Whimper to myself and look for a cab.


10:00am: Return to Embassy.

10:05am: Searched, mobile phone and portable hard drive removed.

10:30am: Collect document.

10:40am: Cab to Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

11:00am Collect ticket and wait my turn.

11:30am: Present ticket and document, to be stamped, “You have to go to Ministry of Justice to get stamp from there, first”.

11:35am: Hunt for cab.

12:00pm Arrive Ministry of Justice. “You have to go to Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get stamp from there, first”.

12:01pm: Explain that I have just come from there.
“The problem is that the original document and the translation are stapled together”.
“That’s how the British Embassy insisted I present it to them.”
“They have to be separate, one stamped by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and then the other one stamped by us.”
“Can’t I just separate them, and you stamp the appropriate one?”

12:20pm: Look for cab.

12:25pm: Call Russian lawyer.
“Don’t bother about all that, just send me the document.”

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