Authority's planning director urges public to support 'beautiful initiative' out of sense of duty - or face the consequences.
ID card staff get anger training
Staff processing national identity card applications have been given anger management training to help them deal with the rush of frustrated people trying to register. During a radio interview, Thamer al Qasemi, the planning director at the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA), pleaded for people to be patient with staff. "We have very young locals working at the registration centres, their experience varies and we need your support and patience and to understand that they get frustrated. "Every employee at our registration centres has received four different kinds of training on how to deal with people, including customer service and anger management. But when there is a big rush ... with everyone trying to scream, I don't think it helps anybody." Mohamed Abdel Nabi, an Egyptian manager who has been living in the UAE for six years, said there were about 30 people waiting at the registration office at the Abu Dhabi Exhibition Centre early yesterday, where he had gone after failing to get an appointment online. "I showed up at 6.30am only to learn that some have been waiting since midnight. They say there is a man who sits out here at night and hands out numbers. People appeared tired and frustrated." An hour later, a member of the EIDA staff came out to address the crowd, which by that time had swollen to around 50. "She said that the office would not be able to see everyone, including those who have already had a number and that priority was given to those with an appointment. "She told us they were overloaded and that they only have three staff members processing applications. The lady then said they can only take 17 people from the group standing in line and advised others to not waste their time waiting around. "People started to rage and I decided to leave. I figured if those with a number won't be seen then I would not stand a chance. I am not going back. I heard that registering is much quicker in Ras al Khaimah - I have a brother who lives there and I think that's where I'll be heading to register soon." However, a reporter from The National found there were few queues at the main registration centre on Airport Road in Abu Dhabi on Monday afternoon although staff, who said they were getting through about 400 registrations a day, said there were frequently long queues in the mornings. "This is just one office - there are a few other offices which do the process who also see many people daily," said a supervisor, who asked not to be named. "The queue begins at 7am daily. The lines extends from outside and around the building every morning. The peak hours are between 7am and 9am." She added that in some cases it took people 10 hours to get to the front of the line. "People who make an appointment are seen right on time. If you don't have an appointment, you can also be seen but you will have to take a number and wait and that can take time. "Applicants come in and take a number and we will advise them to leave for a few hours and come back. This helps people get back to work or finish their business outside instead of waiting around." Mr Qasemi confirmed yesterday that there were no appointments available before the end of this year. Emiratis will face fines of Dh1,000 if they do not have an ID card by Jan 1. Expatriates will not be fined until the end of 2010 but professionals, including anyone with a degree, may find they cannot access services, including health care and the banking system, if they do not have a card by that date. Mr Qasemi said he wanted people to get a card not through fear of a fine, but out of a sense of duty to the country. "If you decide not to participate and support the Government in this beautiful initiative then there are consequences," he said. "There is a lot that this Government has given us, and in return we just supply certain information and get an ID card. The Government is planning for you and your children in the future." firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com