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04 March 2024

Vision 2021: Dubai targets a smarter, futuristic city with a 24-hour, one-stop government by next year

By Bindu Suresh Rai

Residents have welcomed Dubai’s announcement of a ‘One Government’ initiative, which will be implemented as soon as next year in its drive to achieve the greater challenge of Vision 2021.

The new initiative will do away with the red tape to make government related transactions smoother and at the touch of a single button, in a bid to offer superior service for Dubai residents.

Unveiling the road map to the future of a smarter and futuristic Dubai at the on-going Government Summit, the Crown Prince and Chairman of the Executive Council, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, revealed an initiative that would achieve a new target every three years starting in 2015.

One Government

In this seven-year plan, 2015 will see the launch of the One Government initiative, which aims to provide round the clock service to its citizens and residents, offering a single portal – be it a teller’s window, the phone or over the internet – that will provide all the information one will need when utilising services at large.

In another three years, each resident of Dubai will be in possession of a single identification profile that will entail them to set up their own accounts according to personal preferences and needs.

This means, visa applications, that final Dewa bill and property transactions could be handled within minutes, at a single portal.

Such an interface will provide uninterrupted updates for all transactions in progress, as well as recalling important dates such as renewal dates of passport, residence, car ownership or licence, amongst others.

The interface will also set up reminders of financial obligations for public utilities such as water, electricity or telecommunications, along with dates of scheduled medical examinations in hospitals and health centres in the public sector and later in the private sector.

In case the user is the owner of a facility or representatives of economic, commercial or service activity, the interface will enable him to accomplish all transactions related to his business such as commercial licensing or work permits or any other permits or approvals from any other concerned government entity.

Local business owner Humeira Pasha has lauded the move, saying: “This is a significant boost to small-time entrepreneurs as myself who have precious time and have to single-handedly breach through government red tape, from something as simple as obtaining a business visit visa to applying for a trade licence.”

Ryan Mathews, a banking executive whose family travels to Dubai every six months said the idea was a  “sound one and will go a long way for people such as myself who spends days and wades through a mountain of paperwork every few months when I need to call my family here on a visit visa.

“I am curious to how this will work, but if this means I will have an online profile that facilitates my application without having to leave the office, how can I complain?”

Ignatius Parker, who works in the publishing industry, said: “My biggest hurdle is leaving office every time to escort my wife, children and the maid for their visa renewals every couple of years.

“Every time we submit the paperwork in, some new rule, missing word or an extra document throws the entire application out. If this entire process was streamlined from the beginning with everything available online, imagine the time and money this could save everyone involved.”

The idea of the One Government initiative would do away the dealings with various government departments and create one entity that will be the constant authority and reference in getting a certain service, regardless of which government entity renders this service.

The interface provides additional services using data of the person’s geographical location.

The applicant will be able to identify options for schools or health centres and hospitals or public transport stations or petrol stations or any services and public facilities located in the vicinity of his or her place of residence or work.

Moreover, they be able to design the interface according to his preferences, in terms of adding or deleting services as needed.

Access to government services will not be limited to electronic applications, but will be also available through dial-up.

As is the case with the application interface, access to all government services will be available via phone through a ‘unified telephone number’ (Dubai 800), which reaches a unified call centre that will answer all queries relating to government by either a single employee, or through the automated answer mechanism.

Mrinali Thakkar, a freelance artist, said: “I am not too well-versed in online interfaces, but the idea of having a single identification number to help answer all our government related queries can only make life easy for us.”