x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

FNC committee wants ID cards to be for Emiratis only

A Federal National Council Committee has recommended that ID cards only be issued to Emirati citizens rather than the whole population.

ABU DHABI // A Federal National Council committee has recommended that national identity cards be issued only to Emiratis rather than the entire population. The Emirates Identity Authority plans to issue five million of the cards to everyone living in the country. The cards could be necessary for everyday transactions such as opening bank accounts and accessing Government services.

Emiratis could be fined Dh1,000 (US$272) if they do not obtain their card by Dec 31. The FNC committee recommended that the Government issue labour cards to foreigners living in the country, instead of the ID cards, over the next two years. "The goal is to have a comprehensive database about those who work in the country," the committee members wrote in a report that was discussed on Tuesday during an FNC meeting.

"The ID card should only be given to citizens," said Mohammed al Zaabi, a member of the specialised labour committee. The FNC is expected to take up the recommendation at its next meeting, less than two weeks away. If the FNC, which is an advisory body, passes the committee recommendation, it will be submitted to the Cabinet, which would decide whether to adopt it. During the meeting, which was attended by Saqr Ghobash, the Minister of Labour, members of the council voiced deep concern about the nation's population imbalance.

The committee report said there were 3.1 million foreign workers in the country last year, compared with 900,000 Emiratis. The report suggested measures to solve the country's demographic problem, including tightening rules for issuing visas for relatives and housemaids. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE, spoke of the population imbalance in his National Day speech earlier this year.

Emiratis have a "legitimate right" to live in a country in which they are "the mainstream, the pioneers and owners of the common language and integrating identity", he said. mhabboush@thenational.ae