x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

National driving licence on the way

A unified national licence and car-registration system is to be introduced on December 12, making motorists' lives a lot simpler.

Learners drive on the test course at the Emirates Driving Company in Musaffah.
Learners drive on the test course at the Emirates Driving Company in Musaffah.

For thousands of drivers, the long drive and frustrating wait to renew their licences and registrations in other emirates will soon be a thing of the past. A unified national licence and car-registration system is to be introduced on December 12, making motorists' lives a lot simpler. With one standard UAE licence, instead of seven different ones issued by each emirate, drivers will no longer have to get paperwork processed or pay motoring fines where they were first registered.

For many who have moved or who work elsewhere, that can take up a whole day. "We were the only GCC country that had seven types of licence," Col Ghaith al Zaabi, the director general of traffic co-ordination at the Ministry of Interior, said yesterday. "Now we have a uniform card, with the same data and colour, across the Emirates. This is to make things easier for motorists. We chose this date to mark the National Day, as this service will be federal."

Drivers who hold a residency visa for one emirate, but who work in another, will be able to register their car where they are employed. From December 6, there will also be a unified customs card for anyone bringing cars into the country. The new system has been called Injaz, which means "accomplishment" in Arabic. For many drivers, it cannot come soon enough. "Every time I need to do anything, I have to take a long journey to Dubai," said Majad Fadel, 29, whose residency visa was issued in Dubai, but who lives in Abu Dhabi. "The journey to Dubai isn't easy and public transport to Dubai is tiring and expensive. It's just difficult.

"Also, with the traffic on the motorway, it becomes a longer process and increases the risk of accidents. I'd rather avoid the journey. "I've gone a number of times to Dubai, spent the entire day there and had to take a day off work on several occasions." Three million driving licences have been issued in the UAE and there are currently 2.4 million vehicles registered. The new licences will be silver and the registration cards gold.

"The new cards have high security [elements] which will make it very hard to forge," said Col Anwar al Mulla, the director of IT and telecommunications at the ministry. He said the logo on the cards would prove difficult to copy, as would the transparent imagery. "The factory that made these cards is also used for printing money, so the security standards are very high," he added. Col al Mulla said the ministry had linked up online with 13 insurance companies, which meant that when a driver applied for insurance their details were automatically stored on the ministry's system.

"So, when they go to the traffic department to apply for car registration, he or she does not have to wait until the data is re-entered at the department's computer, which speeds up the process for people," said Col al Mulla. "The e-linking with insurance companies will expand to include all insurance companies in the UAE." Companies already linked include Emirates Insurance, Takaful, Al Fujairah Insurance Company and RAK Insurance.

The Roads and Transport Authority is also linked to the new system. While Injaz services are not yet available online, Lt Col Barakat al Kindy, the head of system development at the ministry, said it was being worked on. Even before its introduction, Injaz is a hit with drivers. Khaled Sami, 24, who lives in Dubai, but whose licence was issued in the capital, said: "My car registration expired two months ago and I've renewed the insurance but I don't have time to go to Abu Dhabi to renew the registration. There's always long queues and it always takes a long time.

"If they [allow] you to do it in every emirate it would be easier for a lot of people because it is a hassle now." Sanaa Kharma also lives in Dubai and has to renew in Abu Dhabi. "It's very difficult for me because, after the long drive, you have to stand in a queue [at the police station] which takes a lot of time that I don't have," he said. "If I could do it in Dubai it would be better for me because it's very near to my house.

"By going to Abu Dhabi, I would lose the whole day and it would interfere with my work." hdajani@thenational.ae