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Scanning a form for a visa applicant at the Dubai Naturalization and Residency Department(DNRD) in Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf news archives

The UAE has never stood still, never accepted the status quo, never settled for just getting by. That is a philosophy and outlook that is inspired from the leadership, embedded in every government department, striven for by all who work at every level of administration and provide services to the public.

The UAE too has been quick to embrace the potential offered by new technologies, upgrading its service levels as never before, introducing newer and smarter ways of providing service, making sure that customer satisfaction ratings reach the highest levels, that government services are efficient, and that all those who participate in delivering those services do so in a professional, accountable and fully transparent manner.

Maintaining such high levels of service is always a challenge, but one of the keys to achieving this is to look at traditional systems, introduce best working practices and embrace new technologies that allow services to be provisioned and accessed more quickly and efficiently than before. And certainly, given the recent developments at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), the department and its employees from the top down, have fully embraced the mantra of being better, quicker and more efficient while maintaining the highest standards of service delivery.

As everybody living in the UAE is fully aware, the visa process, whether it be the initial issuance, renewals, visiting or changing status, can be a potential source of frustration and failed expectations. Senior management at GDRFA, however, have looked at their processes, turned conventional thinking upside-down and looked at how new technologies might improve and enhance service delivery. And the results are indeed truly spectacular.

Because of the innovative approach, re-assessment and improvement in service delivery processes, GDRFA officials can now issue a visa in just 15 seconds. That’s shorter than it takes most people to type in their email address. And it means GDRFA is now the fastest authority anywhere around the world when it comes to issuing a visa.

GDRFA has utilised artificial intelligence processes and other smart techniques to be able to issue visas without any human intervention. The result is an approval system that’s highly efficient and speedy — but also highly accurate, using those technologies to run critical security and administrative checks pretty instantaneously. Preserving the integrity of our borders and the security of the nation are paramount, and by able to ensure this and maintain the highest protocols — while also improving service-delivery standards — the GDRFA achievement is truly impressive. This initiative is just one element of the country’s commitment to improve services and put it beyond the service levels offered by others. That indeed is truly impressive.