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09 December 2023

Arabic fields in English ID form fox UAE expats

By Vicky Kapur and Mohammed Al Sadafy

Ten days into the launch of an online registration service for UAE’s expatriates, some users of the English form have complained of being incapable of filling up certain mandatory fields in Arabic.

Emirates National Identity Authority (Eida), which is overseeing a nation-wide ID project, launched online registration for expatriates on January 19, and the services offered include new registration, renewal of existing cards and replacement of lost or damaged cards.

However, in the English form, an applicant must fill at least three mandatory fields in Arabic – the applicant’s first name, his or her place of birth, and the applicant’s mother’s first name.

This, says a section of non-Arabic speakers, defeats the whole purpose of launching an online form in English, as they complain of having to depend on Arabic-speaking colleagues, or going back to a typing centre, to have these fields filled-up.

“The whole idea of filling up the form from the comfort of your home or office is an illusion,” said an expatriate visiting one of the authorised typing centres, at Al Khail Mall in Al Qouz. The Dubai resident, who gave his name as James, said he’d decided to switch to the ‘offline’ mode after he made several futile attempts at submitting his online application without the Arabic fields.

“It [the online system] kept telling me that the application was incomplete, and kept asking me to fill up those missing fields [in Arabic],” he said.

“I tried Google translation,” said an Indian expat who was trying to fill up the English form electronically. “But I’m not sure if it gives an accurate translation of proper names as it gave me ‘choices’ for the Arabic translation of my first name,” she said.

“Finally, I’ve decided to request a coworker, who is from Syria, to assist me with those fields as I don’t want the application to get rejected because of a wrong translation,” she added.

Dr Ali Mohammad Al Khoury, Director-General of Eida, told this website that the number of applications, both through typing centres and the online form, has reached 501,125 in January (until January 29). “The online form is a new service, and we have been receiving regular feedback from users,” said Al Khoury.

“We have a technical team which is working round-the-clock to solve any issues as soon as possible, in a matter of days, not weeks,” he insisted.

“There is a ‘Translate to Arabic’ button within the form, which will translate the mandatory fields, filled up in English, to Arabic,” Al Khoury clarified. This means that non-Arabic-speaking users can fill up the online forms without any assistance.

There are others like him who have registered for Eida’s eForm facility and have partially filled up the application form, but are in two minds over what to do with the compulsory Arabic fields.

Eida’s new eForms are available for individuals and services include first-time application, renewal and application for replacement of a damaged/lost Emirates ID card. The authority suggests visiting an authorized typing centre for those facing problems with online application. “If you face any difficulties using the online form please visit one of our certified typing centers,” the Eida website recommends.

 The online service, which costs Dh40, is about 40 per cent cheaper than the Dh70 charged by typing centres, and a number of expatriates are expected to benefit from it. However, the authority has warned against commercial use of the service, and maintains that it is for individual use only.

“This service is strictly intended for individual personal use only,” Eida warns on its website.

“It is illegal to use this service for commercial use, if the account is intended for typing center use then it is mandatory to immediately send an email to typing-center@emaratech.aemailto:typing-center@emaratech.ae including your request to register as an authorized typing centre to be certified to provide Emirates Identity Authority’s services,” it adds.

“As a typing center you are legally accountable and bound to follow the typing centre registration process & procedures. If you attempt to avail this online service for typing centre / commercial use you will be bound to strict fines and legal charges,” it says.

To individual users, Eida warns: “You are questionable & responsible for applications created/modified through your account. Do not share your login credentials with other individuals.”

Although Eida is yet to reveal details on how many English applications have been submitted since its launch on January 19, the authority pointed out earlier this month that UAE nationals had filled out 155 ID card registration forms through its website during the first week of the service launched in early January.

According to Eida, more than 526,000 ID card registration forms were filled out at the typing centers across the UAE and via the Eida website in December 2011, compared to 220,000 forms in November.

The average number of forms filled out through the authorised typing centers across the UAE stood at around 17,000 forms per day in last December, said Eida.