Why residency offices in Dubai wear a deserted look

Smart services and typing centres reduce need for personal visits

Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
Maj-Gen Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri during a media tour of the GDRA headquarters in Jafiliya, Dubai.
Gulf News

Dubai: Smart online services have helped Dubai residency authorities slash footfall at their headquarters and branch offices as more people use their smartphones and tablets to obtain services electronically, the top official at General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA) said on Tuesday.

The switch to greater online transactions for visas and residency-related documents has created a quicker and more efficient experience for users, said Major-General Mohammad Al Merri, director-general of GDRFA Dubai.

The authority has also farmed out processing of applications to typing centres.

“We aim to have zero customer in our departments. We reduced the number of customers [visiting in person] so far by 90 per cent. Last summer, we had nearly 3,000 people visiting our headquarters everyday. Now we only have tens of people visiting our headquarters for special cases. Customers can manage their applications around the clock, anywhere by using their phones or tablets,” Maj-Gen Al Merri said.

Official statistics by GDRFA-Dubai show that it issued 17 million entry permits (visas) in the first quarter of this year as compared to 15.5 million in the first quarter of last year.

Stats also show that the GDRFA-Dubai had 4.5 million residency transactions in the first quarter of this year — including new residency and renewing residency — as compared to 2.6 million residency transactions in the first quarter of 2016.

The smart services helped customers submit their applications and follow up conveniently and quickly without security or privacy being compromised. The reduction in the number of customers visiting GDRFA offices came after most of the companies in Dubai registered in the smart system and applied for visas for their employees online without on-site visits to offices.

“Our branches are open for people who don’t know how to use computers or smart applications to finish their transactions. We also educate the customer to use the smart services when he comes to our headquarters or branches,” Maj-Gen Al Merri said.

He said that on Sunday, from 7.30am to 9.30am, his employees completed more than 4,000 online transactions in the two-hour window alone.

The reduction in the number of customers came after launching the UAE vision system which allows the public to finish their transactions in the service centres outside the GDRFA-Dubai buildings. The smart system allows the customers to apply for visa or residency permits, renew and cancel residency permits and everything related to GDRFA services.

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