Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Emirates National Identity Card. A fiasco.

identityImage by dawn m. armfield via FlickrI've been moaning about the Emirates National Identity Card fiasco since early in  November 2008 - and I have by no means been alone - many august online voices (including SeaBee and Monsignor Goat) have been reeling around in awe at the ever changing cycles of misinformation that have clouded every aspect of the rollout of the UAE's national ID card scheme.

I suspect many of us viewed yesterday's pronouncements similarly - in fact, I voiced my glee on the Dubai Today show yesterday when I prophesied a round of the clarifications that SeaBee loves so well. Quite what has to be clarified isn't yet clear, because the lack of clarity in the things to be clarified is obscuring quite what could be clearer.

UAE newspaper 7Days, which has slowly but surely been regaining its tabloid swagger following the concerted campaign to eradicate it a while ago, today does what no other newspaper has dared to do. It listened to reader complaints and decided to actually investigate how people are meant to be making an application for a national ID card before the supposed December 31st deadline. Yes, you can pick yourself up from the floor now. It did journalism.

What was the result? The paper's Nichola Jones called all of the 30 typing centres listed on the EIDA website in Dubai to find out if she could start the application process. Only nine of these were working numbers - and of these, only three answered and only one actually confirmed they were accepting applications. None of the typing centres in Abu Dhabi answered the phone. This is perhaps understandable - one of the Dubai typing centres had explained to the paper they weren't taking applications as they were working through a backlog of over 1,000 forms.

Ten calls to the EIDA 'emergency hotline' weren't answered, confirming what the paper had heard from readers - it's chaos out there. Here's Nichola's story, Identity Crisis On The Cards?

Vague threats are being bandied about regarding fines - enough to prompt colleagues yesterday to start talking about applying for the card (I've had one since September 2009, although have not once managed to use it for anything useful like, for instance, identifying myself) and I told them to do what I did - download the amusingly titled application application. (You may recall, the application application was a PC application that let you fill out an application so that you can apply for an appointment to make an application. The application application didn't let you make an appointment for an application: you still had to apply for an application appointment even if you had an application filled using the application application.).

Except you can't. There is no longer an application application. It has expired.So you can only go to one of these mythical typing centres. It's worth noting that 7Days doesn't actually tell us which typing centre was open, contactable and claiming to be able to process applications. That'll be because the 7Days team are all down there today.

So what happens on the 31st December? Are people without an ID card application registered going to blow up? We can only wait for some clarification.

With all my twenty four years' in Middle East media and communications, I can tell you that in my professional opinion the introduction of the national ID card system in the UAE has been a case study in botched and muddled communications that has confused, and quite possibly squandered, millions. Some of the amazing backstory is in these posts from the past.


I am only amazed that over two years later, it is still going on.

(And now, with thanks to Mita, The Inevitable Clarification)
Enhanced by Zemanta

14 comments:

Mich said...

I've done two already. The first one only lasted a few months and had to be renewed when my visa expired. But at least it was in the good old days of the Application, Application. I don't look forward to doing a third. And I have yet to use it for anything :-))

Dave said...

Makes the UAE look like a third world country with a first world facade.

Spear The Almighty said...

I did my ID card in Abu Dhabi and it went very smoothly. I filled a form provided by a typing centre and the next day I received my tiped application. I then went to do my ID Card application at the ADNEC centre. I was finished in 15 minutes. I don't know wht people are moaning. Just do the bloody thing.
I even blogged about it here www.spearthealmighty.blogspot.com/2010/10/emirates-id.html

Stained said...

Similar to Spear the Almighty's experience, got the application typed out at a typing center and then after an 20min wait at the application center, I was done. Got the card 2 weeks later. This was done a month or so back. No hassles at all apart from the fact that the my picture on the card looks like crap.

Bush Mechanic said...

Drive to RAK. Worked for me. Notably absent from the 7 Days report because it would have been successful.

Luke said...

I agree with Dave.

Cancelling my familyS' RAK visa I was first of all sent away from the delapidated building to get some trousers. Then I was told to wait in a room although nobody appeared to be doing anything. The room was bizarrely full of Asians handcuffed and foot chained together all looking rather miserable. Probably taxi drivers who found that the costs of driving a taxi were higher than their salary or similar! I then got ushered around 3 different offices, was sent back and forth to a typing centre across the road 3 times to correct mistakes. Nobody gave a shit. I got the impression they found it a bit of laugh. A thoroughly miserable experience that I do not intend to repeat. It was nearly as bad as the hell that was getting the visas in the first place.

Back in the UK I had to renew my passport last month, I was in and out in 10 minutes in the London office. Could have picked my passport up 2 hrs later, but decided to wait until the next day.

alexander... said...

Hang on, Luke, I thought we had to send 'em to Germany?

Can you get 'em done in London?

Luke said...

I was in London, gave my UK address, and paid 130 quid for the quick service.

Seabee said...

Agree with you Alex, a world class cock-up. In spite of it all going smoothly (mostly) when I applied for my ID card, it has to be the worst organised introduction of anything anywhere.

And nowhere I've tried to use it will accept it as proof of my identity anyway, so even if it had been introduced properly it's a completely pointless exercise.

the real nick said...

Spare a thought for the eager beavers who rushed and got the ID card two years ago. The card should come up for renewal now...but hey, I am sure they make very good use of the card since then...Alexander?

alexander... said...

Apparently you can't cancel a visa without one, so I've heard of people who haven't had them having to get them purely so they can cancel their visas.

Which, oddly enough, I'd tend to believe...

Grumpy Goat said...

I changed my job in May, and hence my sponsor and visa. I was not required to produce my ID card.

I have never been asked to produce my ID card.

I have had my ID card refused on several occasions: each time, a passport copy was required.

Dave said...

Alexander, when JAFZA visa's are cancelled these days the authority frequently wants a letter from the company confirming that the employee does not have an ID card.... apparently if the staff member themselves tells them this it is not good enough.... nor do JAFZA appear to have the facility to check online if a person possesses an ID card........ the confirmation of no Emirates ID must come from the employer otherwise the visa will not be cancelled in some instances..... soon they will wonder why people abscond without cancellation ....

KJ said...

I am not even sure I have to make one that I am a student!

From The Dungeons

Book Marketing And McNabb's Theory Of Multitouch

(Photo credit: Wikipedia ) I clearly want to tell the world about A Decent Bomber . This is perfectly natural, it's my latest...