Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sometimes it's nice to be a woman in the UAE

Every once in a while, it works out to your advantage to be a female in the UAE.

We went to get our car registration renewed yesterday. Of course we were not so naive as to think that we would get it all done in one trip. Oh no. But we did expect to get further along in the process than we did, which is to say, nowhere. The helpful folks at the UAE equivalent of the DMV (it's called Tasjeel) told us that they couldn't renew our car registration until we obtained an Emirates ID.

Obtaining an Emirates ID is something we've been putting off, oh, since the day we arrived in Sharjah. Every time I looked at the process involved, my eyes glazed over and my brain broke and I decided to just put it away for another day...or week...or month...or year, as it turned out. It wasn't just me playing the procrastination game, either. Participation in Emirates ID was supposed to be compulsory by December 1, 2011, then sometime in January, then July, and then they said they'd start levying fees and disconnecting mobile phones, and then even those deadlines got pushed back.

But they caught us with the car registration loophole. The guy at Tasjeel gave us directions to the nearest Emirates ID building, which led us to the middle of the desert until lo and behold, a nice office building loomed out of the sand. We headed inside and that's when I realized how nice it was to be a woman at that particular time and place.

The process to get the ID involved taking some numbers from a machine and waiting in a series of lines. However, the lines were separated by gender. I had to go upstairs; Jeremy waited downstairs. Since there are at least twice as many men in this country as women, his lines were a lot longer than mine. In fact, my lines were nonexistent. I breezed through the entire process in about 35 minutes. Jeremy never got past the first step. He said he came very close to holding up his high-numbered ticket in front of the waiting masses along with a 100 dirham bill ($27), and seeing which patron with a low-numbered ticket would take him up on his offer. Bureaucracy tends to make us lazy like that.

In the end, he didn't buy an advanced place, and we left the building without his Emirates ID because - shocking, I know - we had other things going on in our lives that prevented us from spending 4 hours at a government office.

Now we're left with the lovely situation of our car registration expiring on the 17th, which means Jeremy's Emirates ID has to be issued by the 16th, but since his residence visa is dated the 18th, those two intervening days will cost us a whole year's fee (100 dhs), and now that I think about it, if the kids' fees are the same as the adults, we will end up paying 1200 dhs ($326) plus typing fees for Emirates IDs for our whole family which makes me die a little bit inside.

Here's hoping for success on the car registration front, at least!


Sarah Familia said...

Oh, yuck. Sometimes I think the bureaucracy is the worst thing about being an expat.

In Italy, people get approximately 40 days of vacation per year. I am now convinced that it is because they spend at least half of those days standing in lines in government buildings. And every stamp and form and seal and signature has an exorbitant price tag. I think it's because they have such massive income tax evasion, and they can only get people to pay a tax if they're standing in a line about to get something semi-tangible for it.

I feel your pain, and I hope it all gets straightened out soon for you!

Crys said...

Wow, Crazy!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I think that kids under 15 don't need an ID..that may save you a few dirhams.


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