Image via WikipediaGulf News and The National today both report on a new move to cut labour card validity to two years instead of three. This means that residency visas will also now only be valid for two years.
Quite apart from allowing us to look forward to a more frequent bruise on the inside of our right arms along with the attendant paperwork, the move will obviously mean shelling out for a visa, labour card and health card more often. Rather brilliantly, Gulf News attempts to quote the rather confusing story filed by the Emirates' national news agency WAM where it appears to assert that the move will save everyone money. That WAM story appears to have been filed in Arabic only, BTW - I couldn't find hide nor hair of it in English.
According to GN's piece, 70% of all labour cards are cancelled before two years have passed, so reducing their term to two years will save UAE industry Dhs678 million. Apparently total license and work permit fees for 2009 were Dhs2.25 billion.
Let us not dwell churlishly on the fact that 2009 had to have been a record year for cancelled visas because of the good old downturn and the enormous outflux of labourers, let alone all those estate agents, from Dubai and the Northern Emirates. Oh no.
A short time spent trawling the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners website for information on the cost of visa paperwork (also called DNRD, the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department. You'd think they'd make up their minds, wouldn't you?) not only yields some interesting tips on building websites and a peek into some fascinating minds, but also tends to result in returning 'Under Construction' whenever you approach anything that might look like being useful information. Thank goodness for e-government.
However, DubaiFAQs estimates the cost of a visa and the slew of papers, permits and cards that goes with it to be as much as Dhs6,000. If we decrease the validiy of visas by one third (3 years to 2 years), we can perhaps assume that visas will effectively cost us 33% more rather than 70% less. Not only does that cost us more money, it means residence visa revenues would increase to a handy 3 billion dirhams at the, presumably unusually low, 2009 rate.
The move will also result in enhancing 'competitiveness and movement in the job market', GN quotes a Labour Ministry official as saying.
It might well do for all I know. But all I can see is that nasty, dehumanising shuffle around the Satwa clinic and that brutal little needle moment looming closer on the horizon.