DUBAI // The deadline for expatriates to apply for an Emirates ID arrived yesterday, but the Emirates Identity Authority's registration centres were shut for the weekend.
Residents were still able to meet the deadline by starting the registration process at typing centres or online, and the authority's phone hotline was operating.
However, the fact that the authority set the deadline for residents in Dubai on a Saturday, when its offices were normally closed for the weekend, meant that staff were not available to provide face-to-face help with last-minute problems.
The National visited the centres at Al Barsha, Karama and Rashidiya yesterday and found all three were closed. A notice attached to the locked gates at the Rashidiya centre said: "Working hours and days in Al Rashidiya Registration Centre. Timing: From 07.00am until 08.00pm. Day: Sunday to Thursday. Days: Friday and Saturday off."
Mosabbah Al Mesmari, the authority's task force manager, said: "We are aware that this is the last day and it is a Saturday, but most of the inquiries people forward to us go to our call centre, which is working 24/7.
"What we required from people before the deadline was just to go to the typing centre and have their registration form filled and printed, that will definitely avoid the delay fees.
"We have established a task force which is in contact with the call centre, so in case there are some inquiries which the call centre cannot handle they are automatically forwarded, there is a system to do that. So there should not be a problem for people to get their forms filled or get answers to questions that they have."
Some residents were not aware that they could meet the deadline by visiting a typing centre.
An Indian mother who turned up at Al Barsha yesterday with her 19-year-old daughter to seek help with a problem regarding the girl's ID card application was surprised to find the centre closed on deadline day.
"This was a mistake from their side, they should have seen to it that the office was not closed on this day," said the mum, who did not wish to be named. "We'll have to come back tomorrow. They are trying to follow their own rules, and we are the expatriates. We have to oblige with that."
Dubai is the last emirate to require registration. Those who missed the deadline will face fines of Dh20 per day from today, to a maximum of Dh1,000. The fines are already being applied in the other emirates.
The previous Dubai deadline of May 31 was extended until yesterday, but the authority said last week there would be no further extensions.
Long queues of residents wishing to make last-minute applications formed outside typing centres in the run-up to May 31, but there was no sign of a late rush yesterday as the clock ticked away towards the deadline.
Helmi Dawoud, manager of the Wadi Aldhid typing centre in Satwa, said: "This month there was no rush.
"Last month there was too much rush, but I think most people have now done the job. Today, we have only had two or three applications.
"I think the government has given them enough time to do the job. The system is OK, there is no problem with the system even when there is too much workload."
Mushtaq Ahmed of Darwish Shakeel, which has typing centres at Al Barsha and Satwa, said: "We've not had a lot of people registering this month, compared with last month it has been very normal.
"I think almost everyone has registered now, so we're not expecting many people today."
Residents who register at typing centres are sent an appointment by SMS to visit a registration centre so that they can be photographed and have their fingerprints taken.