Over the past year or so, the UAE has been introducing a National Identity card and is requiring that all citizens and residents get the card. Initially, everyone was supposed to have the card by the end of 2009 but that was extended to the end of 2010 in Abu Dhabi. I recently heard the the card is required to register vehicles. I've since heard that has been changed, but because I'll be buying a secondhand Jeep in about a week and changing the registration to my name, I didn't want to take any chances.
Early last week I filled in the forms online filling in such vital required information as my mother's first name (but not my father's), the date my wife graduated from Junior College, my wife's middle name (she doesn't have one) my religion, and both of my kids' "famous names." I printed out the forms and was intending on going to one of the two centers in Abu Dhabi to hand them in. I tried to use the website to make an appointment online and was told that service was discontinued.
I called the information center to find where and when the best times to go were and the person working said under no circumstances go at night after work because it will be crowded. Instead, he recommended that I go to the center that's open on Saturdays when they open at 8:00.
Well, we got there at 9:00 and there was already a line in front of the center. There was another line across the street that I'm still not entirely sure what it was for, but when I asked the men waiting in that line about it, they told me to go to the one in front of the building.
Waiting in the hot sun with two complaining children was a real treat. I had brought a newspaper and was delighted to find an article about the problems people were facing getting Emirates I.D. cards and the measures that the Abu Dhabi government was implementing to improve it starting tomorrow. Here's the article. It seems that people have been having a difficult time registering for the card.
At about 9:30, after waiting for about 30 minutes in the hot sun outside the building, the security guard closed the gate. I called the help line with my mobile phone and an operator told me that going and getting my I.D. would be no problem. When I told her that I was waiting outside the gate and they had just locked it, she told me that they must have booked up all the appointments for the day (the center's hours are 8:00 to 2:30 on a Saturday) and she suggested that I call the office. I got the phone number for the building I was standing outside of and when I called no one answered.
I called the central help center back and basically got the same answer: come back tomorrow. I noticed that by this time I had an audience of all the people who were waiting in line with me who seemed equally frustrated. After answering a few questions about what they told me on the phone, I got tired of hearing my poor kids complain about being hot, thirsty, hungry and tired so we went back home.
As far as I can tell, I have to go back by myself to get the appointment, go back again with my wife to get our fingerprints and photos taken, then go back after that to pick up the cards. Somehow I find it doubtful that everyone in Abu Dhabi will have the National I.D. card by the end of the year.