In the time of movement restrictions, digital has become the interface for Dubai residents with its government. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Want to get in touch with Dubai Government? Or access its services? Do it the “smart” way.

And these days, more of Dubai’s residents are doing just that through the DubaiNow app. The numbers tell the whole story.

“In the last two weeks, DubaiNow has had 102,537 transactions worth Dh51.4 million, which is a clear sign that our users are actively using the app and adopting more and more services,” said Dr. Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, Director-General, Smart Dubai Department.

“We’ve seen substantial demands for services from Dubai Police and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (immigration services). In terms of residency services, the app now allows users to complete a number of tasks - issuing, renewing, modifying, or cancelling residencies, transferring sponsorship, and inquiring about visa status.

“These services include both individuals and institutions. These are all services that typically relate to the day-to-day needs of Dubai’s citizens. So we’ve seen users resort to the DubaiNow app for their daily life needs more often.” (All that users need to do is have the Emirates ID and phone number.)

Making a fine point... Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr, Director-General of Smart Dubai project. The DubaiNow app recorded a sharp surge in user activity in the last two weeks, as more of the emirate's residents take to it for the interaction with government agencies. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

A captive audience

Of course, circumstances are helping the surge in DubaiNow listed services. With restrictions on people’s movements, for many the only point of contact for a government-related service has become the app. It has led to take-up rates that would taken far longer to reach inmore sedate times.

Dubai residents do get quite a lot to choose from when they log on – DubaiNow now has more than 116 government services from 33 entities. And a few from the private sector as well - “The platform now has several services provided by start-ups related to home services, car insurance, and much more,” said Dr. Aisha.

“The app is set to include health and justice services in the near future.”

What’s popular

For now, the most popular service requirements relate to Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Etisalat and du. DubaiNow allows users to pay their bills, fines, and any fees, as well as top up their Salik and Nol cards remotely.

Draw the line

Dr. Aisha, however, says the app will not be rushing to add services for businesses to do their needful with the Dubai Government.

“DubaiNow focuses on government-to-individual services rather than government-to-business services,” the Director-General said. “Dubai Government entities responsible for business services - such as Department of Economic Development and Dubai Free Zones - are already offering various key services on their own apps.

“Our services typically relate to the day-to-day needs of Dubai’s citizens and residents. We’ve seen users resort to the DubaiNow app for their daily life needs more often. These digital services cut the number of times individuals need to visit customer service centres annually from 23 to nine times… saving every person 28 hours.”

With the kind of traffic DubaiNow has seen in the last two weeks, has speed of delivery service been able to match up? Dr. Aisha is holding no doubts on this score – “Despite the complexity of integrating 116 live services with over 33 government entities, DubaiNow offers a seamless user experience with optimal speed.”

More of Dubai’s residents are finding out this is the case now.

Renew… or terminate
• Dubai’s tenants can digitally sign up for renewal of their contracts and even terminate them if need be. In addition, they can signing off on school contracts.

• The Residency services include the issuing, renewing, modifying, or cancelling the tenure, transferring sponsorships, and inquiring about visa status. These services extend to both individuals and institutions. The new feature streamlines procedures to apply for a visa, where the applications are received and processed online.

• The UAEPASS - a national digital identity platform - launched in October 2018 to allow citizens, residents, and visitors to access government and private sector services by signing in through secure mobile-based authentication on the UAEPASS app with a single set of login details.

• In September 2019, the UAE Central Bank adopted the UAEPASS allowing banks around the UAE to use it in processing banking transactions. The platform currently offers nearly 5,000 services from 80 different local and federal entities.