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A friend of mine answered his own question about the benefits of the identity card, which I least expected. Even before I responded, he said the identity card was supposed to make carrying passport unnecessary. In fact; during the card’s promotion and propagation, it was told that it would make carrying a host of cards that our purses contain unnecessary – such as the health insurance card, even the ATM card. But the reality is quite the contrary; those were merely the expectations and orientations of the Smart Government and smart applications and initiatives of “paperless administrations.”

The unexpected question of the man was justified in view of what is happening before us, in terms of the similar experiences that customers went through. When you present your identity card to complete your transaction, the officer, who has not heard about faster procedures, creativity and innovation except from the media, asks you for a copy of the passport. The customer tries to convince the officer that an identity card is issued only for a UAE national who possesses a passport and a family book, and for an expatriate who possesses a passport and a legally valid residency from an empowered authority (in this case ‘the Residency and Immigration Affairs’).

The expatriate approaches the officer with a copy of his son’s residency, which clearly states that he is a student not allowed to work, but the officer demands a document for the same, reflecting the bureaucratic method of the likes of this officer who tend to accumulate papers and photocopies of transactions merely to satisfy his ego and to indulge in what he considers to be the power and privilege that come with his position! The likes of this officer with his behavior do not only pursue a bureaucratic path, but also expresses doubts about the validity and accuracy of information documented by another government authority.

Before we demand the Emirates Identity Authority to restore the esteem of its card and to show that the purpose behind it being mandatory is to make life easier for its carrier and to consolidate his data and protect them against loss, we called upon all concerned authorities directly dealing with the people to sensitize their staff that the times have changed. We are moving in the direction of a culture of smart government and smart applications that do not jell with an authority that asks for attested rent contract or its copy or electricity bill for vaccinating a child, as if the officer believes that the customer is a lover of darkness or has turned absent-mindedly towards the power of the sun and winds!

Ali Al Amudi is a writer in Al Etihad newspaper.
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