|Visa (Photo credit: DeclanTM)|
I'm not going to go into the considerable amount of pain I went through to discover this because it would be as tedious to read as it was to go through the process of discovery. Suffice it to say I was applying for an ISBN number for my Middle East edition of Beirut - An Explosive Thriller and found myself holding an out of date e-dirham card with the need to get the new one. Note not all government departments are 'up to speed' on the new card - the National Media Council, for instance, took its fee for my 'permission to print' from an old, also known as 'G1', e-dirham card.
You can get the new 'G2' e-dirham from any branch of National Bank of Abu Dhabi. Just rock up and ask for it and, seven dirhams later, you're holding your own piece of pre-paid Visa. I got mine from the Ministry of Economy office which is on the fourth floor of the Etisalat building in Bur Dubai. There's no application process as such to obtain the card - just flash the cash and pocket the fantastic plastic!
Now you can use any NBAD branch ATM machine to charge the card (using cash) once ONLY. A second charge-up requires you to register the card. This takes ten minutes at any NBAD branch (including five minutes for the fragrant lady with an itchy shayla to get the IT wallah to fix her printer's paper jam) and requires a National ID card or passport and filling out a simple form. The process is instantaneous and now you are free to charge the card up and off you go! Their branches are all listed (as PDF's, oddly) at this here handy link.
This is great news for anyone who couldn't otherwise get a credit card or who doesn't trust themselves with one/want to pay the bank's stupid fees. You can, for instance, give yourself a few hundred dirhams 'splurge' money a month and know you can never overdo it. What's more, you've now got a safe online spending card that'll never expose you to any significant risk of fraud - and all for a once-only charge of seven dirhams - no more outrageous annual fees!
The odd thing is how little coverage there has been of this in local media...