Before I start, here are a few links for official sites, which I should add were not entirely useful, seemingly not to include some quite relevant detail.
- First time registration info
Typing center locations
Comment: Lots of centers in "old" Dubai, but only one listed in the vicinity of "new" Dubai.
Registration center locations
Comment: Just a big, country-scale Google map; not at all comprehensive or helpful.
So, I went off to the single listed typing center in new Dubai. Perhaps there are others not listed on the website, which would not surprise me in the least.
Location: Easy enough to find, along the Al Sufouh Rd side of Knowledge Village at the Dubai Marina end. Look out for a sign for the Medical Fitness Center and the typing center is located in the same building at the On Time Office. Easy to find with parking in a lot opposite the building entrance.
Experience: Certainly particular days, dates and times will affect one's experience. I'm sure the closer it gets to any published deadline for registration, the harder the process will get.
In my case, the timing was mid-morning, end of week, end of month and end of year, but far away from any impending registration deadlines. Despite being the only listed center in new Dubai it was not at all busy--practically no lines and only limited wait-time during processing.
But there were a few surprises along with the routine procedures:
- In addition to the fees indicated on the website (Dhs 100 per year of visa validity and Dhs 30 for typing center fee) there is an additional Dhs 40 registration fee to the government. (Now, why isn't this mentioned on the official website!)
On the other hand, there is no need to pay a Dhs 20 fee for courier delivery of the card once produced. This option/requirement (thankfully) no longer exists.
There are application forms resting on the registration counter, easy enough to fill-in oneself, but no one or nothing alerts you to this, so you're likely to end up missing the opportunity to get this step out of the way in advance.
For first time registration, you need provide nothing but your passport with visa, and the cash for payment. (No credit card payments accepted).
You don't need any photos or photo copies of your documents. And it would appear that you also need not be present to present your passport; a proxy could do this for you.
So, that's all you need--passport w/visa and cash.
The wait... You then wait for your passport to get scanned and details to be logged by clerks into the system. Simple enough you may think, but I found my wait dragging on a bit.
On confronting the registration clerk I am informed the wait is for the payment to get logged into the online registration system. So no passport scanning, no nothing until a seemingly elemental and routine network function takes place. (Go figure; this happens instantaneously when making payments at retail outlets.)
Now, the real surprise. In due course (about 40 min) I get my passport back, a printed form and receipt, and an sms notification of my appointment at a registration center. Fine, I guess, but I'm not looking forward to having to compete the process more than a month off and at a distant Rashidiya location.
Anyway, ready to head home, I am told to go upstairs and get my finger prints taken. Hmm, OK... I wasn't really expecting this step. Didn't see anything about this on the website. So, I head upstairs, get a number and wait for it to be called. Soon, I'm on into a little cubicle to get fingerprinted and photographed.
That done, I ask the clerk, What next? What next, he shrugs. Wait to get an sms to collect your card.
Huh? That's it? All done? What a pleasant surprise!
So, that's the process--my process, anyway--in a nutshell. And it really was in a nutshell. The whole process took only about an hour.
But wait, here was a registration center right in the same building as the typing center. Nothing about that on the website. And wait again, even though I get an sms announcing an appointment some six weeks off, it's all for naught when all I have to do is head upstairs to complete the process then and there.
Go figure, and go get your Emirates ID if you haven't already done so.
(I should also add, there were people ahead of me in line at the typing center. When told it would take from 30 min to an hour to get their passports back, they opted to leave the center and return later to pick them up. So, why weren't they informed that they ought just as well stay and complete the process upstairs?)