Thousands failed to sign up in time to register, forcing the Government to grant nationals until the end of March to complete the process.
ID card registration deadline extended
ABU DHABI // The deadline for Emiratis to register for national identity cards has been extended by three months, after thousands failed to sign up in time and registration centres struggled to cope with a last-minute rush. The deadline was to be Wednesday but was pushed back to the end of March, the Ministry of Interior said yesterday. The move follows a directive by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The extension means that those Emiratis not registered will not face Dh1,000 (US$272) fines in January, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Minister of the Interior, said in a written statement. Employees at Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) yesterday were unaware of the extension, saying that as far as they knew citizens still have to sign up by the end of the year. No spokesman for the EIDA was available to comment. "We've had no information on an extension, that may be due to the fact it's a public holiday," a call-centre worker said. Registration centres have been flooded in the past two weeks as some of the 100,000 Emiratis who have not obtained identity cards scrambled to sign up. "In all the centres there is too much of a rush because of the local registration deadline," said another call-centre operator. Also unaware of the deadline extension, he advised anyone who was not a UAE national to wait until the new year to sign up to avoid the crush. Several Emiratis said they were relieved to hear the news. Hamdan Saleh Sayari, a 29-year-old police officer, was concerned he would be fined for failing to register each of his three children. "Initially I was not sure that young children had to be registered along with the adults," said Mr Sayari. "For those working in the police and in the government we were required to register early on and the process was fairly easy, but when I went to register my wife, it took several hours." According to the EIDA, children are required to be registered. Khalifa al Shamsi, 61, a retired former businessman, was not surprised by the extension. "I anticipated this, as extensions have been given to everyone else," he said. "I read that there are tens of thousands, including one of my sons, who had not registered. This is good news." Earlier this month expatriate professionals were given an extra two months to register for the cards. The estimated 400,000 expatriates who still need to register have until Feb 28 to sign up. They will not be fined for not having a card until 2010. At the end of October Thamer, Rashed Al Qasemi, planning director of the EIDA, insisted that the end-of-year deadlines would remain firm, despite the high numbers of people who still had to register. Registration centres have been swamped in recent months after professionals, including anyone holding a university degree, were told they would not be able to access government services, including health care, after Dec 31 without cards. Staff at registration centres were given anger-management training to deal with the rush of frustrated people trying to have their applications processed. Administrative workers, including secretaries, translators, typists and shopkeepers, as well as expatriates employed in the hotel, restaurant and tourism industries, can apply from March 1. The centres will embark on registering an estimated three million construction workers in the UAE starting next October through to 2010. firstname.lastname@example.org