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10 December 2023

Misuse of phone numbers led to UAE SIM card registration

By Mohammad El Sadafy

‘My Number My Identity’ campaign aims to prevent problems that are caused by the misuse of cellphones especially by fake owners with fake numbers, said Majid

Sultan Al Mesmar, Deputy Director-General of the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA).

Speaking to Emirates 24/7 on the sidelines of the Gitex Dubai 2012, Al Mesmar said cellphone users are sometimes forced to pay tens of thousands of dirhams as phone tariffs incurred by others.

Many such cases related to misue of cellphones are pending in the courts, he added.

Al Mesmar said Etisalat and du are obliged to cut service if an owner of a number who do not settle his bill. Both the service providers are entitled to issue circulars to owners of the cellphones numbers who have accumulated large amounts of bills

Such circulars could expose them to travel bans or arrest upon arrival in any UAE port.

It is for these reasons that the TRA obliged Etisalat and du to launch the ‘My Number My identity’ campaign aimed at controlling the misuse of phone numbers.

“By  registering, mobile users confirm the numbers which they are using and cancel the numbers registered under their names but don't use, but which may be

used by other people,” Al Mesmar said.

He said some people give their SIM cards to relatives or friends while leaving the country. These friends and relatives, knowing the number is not registered in their names, sometimes misuse it, accumulating large sums in phone charges.

The mobile SIM card can also be used for crimes such as theft or drug smuggling, he added.

The real owner of a number can also face charges of defamation and libel if the person who has borrowed his SIM card misuses it.

Al Mesnar attributed the misuse of phone numbers to the development of Internet telephony.

The ‘My Number My Identity’ campaign was launched on July 16 and will run for 18 months, divided into six stages of three months each.

18 months is enough for the 12 million subscribers of Etisalat and du to review their numbers, Al Mesnar said. Subscribers will be informed by SMS to register their numbers at any of the branches of the service provider.

Those who do not register their numbers could face disconnection of the service which will be restored only after they register. The user will be given a deadline of six months if he wants to cancel a number. After this deadline, the service provider can disconnect service.

Al Mesmar called on the public not to wait for the end of the deadline for each phase, as happened in the first phase, resulting in long queues in front of Etisalat and du offices.

He asked mobile users to register their numbers without waiting for an SMS from the service provider.

Al Mesmar called on both Etisalat and du to motivate the public to take part in the ‘My Number My Identity’ campaign which will ensure the financial rights

of the service provider and also prevent the misuse of extra numbers registered in their client’s names.

Al Mesmar revealed that he had five mobile numbers registered in his name and was surprised that registration data of two numbers showed that he is a citizen of Oman.

To register his number, the owner has to be personally present in the office of the service provider since his signature is required on the form, he added.


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