Image Credit: Ador T. Bustamante/XPRESS

Dubai: An advisory from the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) for registrants to come in their national dress has left applicants bewildered.

As the December 31 deadline triggers a rush for the National ID, only a few of the eleventh-hour registrants were mindful of an EIDA note asking people to come in their official national garb for picture-and fingerprint-taking.

In a print media announcement on Sunday, EIDA said that applicants "must come in the official dress of their respective countries" when they show up at any of its registration centres.

An EIDA official in Abu Dhabi explained: "We want people to look really good, decent and professional in their national ID pictures." The official, who declined to be named, added: "If you're a European citizen, come in a suit or smart dress to the service centre. If you're an Omani, come in your national dress."

Outside Eida's Karama Service Centre, Dubai-based Nigerian trader Paul said he does not mind wearing agbada and isiagu, the national dress worn by Nigerian men, if he only knew when the sluggish pace of registration would pick up.

"I didn't know about the dress code. That's the least of my problems. I've done the pre-registration two weeks ago and waited for my appointment via by SMS. The message never came. Two weeks later, an EIDA call centre staff told me to go to their registration centre in Karama. The issue is this [long queue] … I've been here for five hours with no clue about what's going on," said Paul.

Wild speculation on fines for late registrants also abound.

"I read online that from January 31, you can't even order pizza by phone if you have no national ID card," said Gul, a Pakistani who works in Jebel Ali. He said he and his colleagues started falling in line at a typing centre from 2am on December 21 (Tuesday). Ten hours later, he was still waiting for his passport to be scanned and returned.

Chinese Lu Feng said: "I don't have a Mao dress. I didn't know about it [national dress]… but it's a good idea," he said.

James, a Filipino in a red shirt and Adidas jogging pants, said he knew nothing about having to come in a barong tagalog. Not far behind is Hassan, a Jordanian who was wearing jeans and a green collar-less shirt.

XPRESS found only one in 10 men wearing their national dress and only one sari-clad Indian lady and another wearing an abaya in a queue with 50 women outside Eida's Karama Centre.

No immediate comment was available from EIDA on fines or penalties for people who register after December 31, 2010.