Applicants for the Emirates Identity card are queuing up in front of the Emirates ID service points, the night before to beat the early morning queue.
Meanwhile, typing centres across the UAE are filled with thousands of expatriates’ passports, as a last minute rush to meet the December 31 deadline intensifies.
According to media reports quoting the Emirates Identity Authority, December 31 would be the last date when expatriates can register for the ID without being fined.
However, there has not been any announcement so far about the nature of penalty or the amount to be paid as fine for failing to register before the end of the month.
Earlier this year, the Authority decided not to let applicants download the applications online, and designated about 700 odd typing centres across the country to fill in the e-form on behalf of the applicant for a stipulated charge.
An applicant would then receive a message via SMS informing him about the date and time of his appointment at a particular service point. With the announcement of the deadline, the number of applicants has “dramatically increased and reached unmanageable levels,” said an official at one of the typing centres.
“We have stopped accepting any more passports. We already have over 1000 pending applications which will take us another two weeks to complete,” he added.
Every service point accepts about 200 to 300 unscheduled applications daily and the numbers waiting to avail the benefit has been increasing. Many of the applicants, carrying sleeping mats and packets of food, have been reaching some Emirates Identity Centres as early as eleven at night.
Emirates 24|7 yesterday visited the Centre at Al Rashidiyah, where by 11.15 pm, about ten men had already assembled, numbered themselves and preparing to sleep on the floor in front of the gate.
Some of them, ignorant of the procedures had gathered even before visiting the typing centre. “They think that the typing and registration is done together at this place. I have been sending away many such men,” said Rahman P who works with a trading firm.
One of the applicants who completed his registration on Tuesday evening said, “I have been waiting here since 2am. I even carried my breakfast and lunch packets. I also got a pullover as it gets really cold outside at night,” said B Joy.
Meanwhile, desperate to complete the formalities, some of the applicants have been travelling across different Emirates in search of a less crowded typing centre.
Philip M who works in a warehouse in Al Awir said he went around the whole of Dubai, Sharjah and also reached Umm Al Quwain. “Finally someone told me a typing centre in Ajman was accepting last minute applications provided we pay an extra amount of Dh60 for each application. I finally submitted all the five passports by paying an additional amount of Dh300,” he said.
“At the end of the day typing centres have made a lot of money,” he added.