Government services will be closed or reduced for eight working days as officials at federal and local departments, apart from those dealing with immigration and visas, take an extended holiday. Public-sector offices closed on Tuesday, National Day, and most will remain closed until a week on Sunday. Only the naturalisation and residency departments will open full time before the end of Eid al Adha. "This includes the Emirates Identity Authority and the Health Authority," said a telephone operator at the Abu Dhabi Government Contact Centre. "All the municipalities are closed and are running just their emergency services at this time. Police departments, like traffic and licensing, are closed. If you want to call the police in an emergency, you can call 999 for help."
Officials accept that the long official holiday could be troublesome for some people. Rakan Mohammed al Murar, a public relations officer at the Western Region Municipality, said, "If there is a pending issue with something like a health insurance card, then [the extended holiday] may affect people on a personal basis." A telephone operator at the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) said registration for identity cards at all its branches was halted on Tuesday. "Until Dec 14, it will be closed," the operator said. "Every branch is closed."
The 12-day closing is the latest hurdle in the registration process. Officials at EIDA have said they expected many of the hundreds of thousands of people who have yet to register for their cards would not meet the Dec 31 deadline. Meanwhile, an official at Abu Dhabi's Mina Zayed Port said that although some departments at the port would operate, administrative offices would be closed. A build-up of cargo has already delayed incoming shipments for as long as two weeks.
Ram Chenderan, a supervisor at the port's commercial department, confirmed the holiday arrangements but said, "The port is still operating and the staff is working under special overtime hours." There was confusion yesterday after the Ministry of Labour's decree about the private sector, which it said would "observe a one-day holiday" on Tuesday, National Day. While banks and businesses such as Mashreq Bank, Emirates Bank and scores of smalls shops did close on Tuesday and yesterday, others remained open.
Arnold Samaniego, a manager at Sport One, a shop in Abu Dhabi Mall that sells fitness supplements, chose to open on Tuesday because business is better on holidays. Mr Samaniego said Sport One and most other shops in the mall would stay open during Eid al Adha despite the ministry's calls to close for the Muslim holiday. "During the holidays business is usually higher, 30 to 40 per cent higher, than on normal days," he said. "If you're a business in the mall you're always open during the holidays. Business is good during the holidays."
Officials at Mashreq Bank and Emirates Bank could not be reached for comment. firstname.lastname@example.org