1. ID cards must
What: Fines and denial of government services to those not having a national ID will make it an unavoidable document in 2012. Emirates Identity Authority started issuing cards to Emiratis in 2006 and to expatriates in 2008. The majority of Emiratis have already registered and their deadline has been extended several times since 2008.
When: The authority has linked ID card registration and visa processing across the country except in Dubai which will do it in April 2012. Fines were imposed on Emiratis from November 1 and expatriates in four northern emirates (Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Ajman), and all expatriates working in the government sector across the country from December 1 was the final push. The fine will be applicable for expatriates in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai from February 1, 2012, April 1, 2012 and June 1, 2012 respectively. October 31, 2011 was the deadline for renewing all identity cards expiring up to that date. The delay attracts a Dh20 fine per day, up to a maximum of Dh1,000.
Why: A deadline for professional expatriates in 2008 and denial of some government services also started encouraging expatriates to take action. The card is now mandatory across the country except in Dubai to access Ministry of Interior services including that of the Traffic Department. The rule began in four emirates — Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah in November 2009. Dubai will implement it in mid-2012. Ajman Government and many federal and local government organisations have made the card compulsory to access their services and others will follow suit soon.
2. Child safety campaign
What: A safety awareness campaign as a first step towards protecting children in high-rise buildings.
Why: In view of the increasing number of children falling from high-rises recently.
The tragic spate of children falling to their deaths alarmed authorities across the UAE, who took measures to ensure that children are safe. Authorities and safety experts have asserted the need to keep children under the supervision of parents or guardians at all times, generating awareness, while, at the same time, taking measures to ensure that houses and buildings are safe.
The Municipal Council of Sharjah has announced that local authorities will soon launch a safety awareness campaign as a first step towards protecting children in high-rise buildings. The Child Protection Higher Committee and the Ministry of Interior Child Protection Centre are also considering issuing a new set of codes regarding construction and safety specifications in high-rise buildings to promote child safety. The Ministry of Interior's child protection centre called for balconies to be covered with Perspex sheets. Balcony doors should remain closed at all times and locked and keys have to be kept in a place that cannot be reached by children. The Department of Municipal Affairs, Abu Dhabi, is working to put in place a unified set of codes, known as the Abu Dhabi Building Codes, to address this issue.
3. Traffic fines
What: A discount on traffic fines if the amount is paid in full in five emirates.
Why: Helping car owners pay off their accumulated traffic fines.
When: Abu Dhabi: no deadline set
Dubai: by January 12
Sharjah: by April 30
Ajman: by February 29
Ras Al Khaimah: by April 30
In 2012, drivers and vehicle owners who have accumulated traffic fines will have a chance to pay them at a discounted rate in most emirates. In Abu Dhabi, drivers can still pay their fines at 50 per cent discount with no deadline given so far for the grace period, while in Dubai, the 40 per cent discount on traffic violations committed before December 2, 2011 will end on January 12. Drivers with offences in Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah have until the end of April to pay their fines at a 50 per cent discount, while in Ajman, the same discount will apply only until the end of February. The 50 per cent discount on traffic fines in Umm Al Quwain ended on December 31, while those who committed traffic violations in Fujairah will continue to pay their fines in full, as no discount has been announced so far.
What: The International Bank Account (IBAN) number is required to conduct any local or international transactions. The IBAN is a unique 23-digit long, internationally recognised code assigned to each bank account. It is required if salaries are processed through UAEWPS, whereby the employer is registered with the Ministry of Labour, and UAEFTS, whereby the employer is outside the purview of the Ministry of Labour and the accounts of the employer and employee are with different banks. The IBAN is not required if the salary is processed through an internal transfer, which means the employer is outside the purview of the Ministry of Labour and the accounts of the employer and employee are with the same bank.
Who: Mandatory for all UAE bank account holders
When: IBAN launch date on November 2011 and will be mandatory after a three-month grace period from the launch date.
Why: To ensure efficient and speedy payment transactions and minimise the risk of transcription errors in cross-border transactions, according to the Central Bank.
5. Rent registration
What: Registering rent contracts with the Dubai Land Department (DLD) through Ejari.ae. This will be a pre-requisite to accessing other government services. Failure to comply will result in a penalty.
Who: Dubai tenants and landlords only
When: Effective on new contracts registered in 2012. Tenants with existing contracts can wait until their contract renewal date to seek registration.
Why: To help the government monitor the property market and offer better insights through its rental index while ensuring all tenants pay their housing fees regularly.
6. Unified car purchase contract
What: The new unified auto purchase contract clearly states the rights of the customers and dealers' obligations in terms of warranties, after-sales service and maintenance, among others. Officials expect disputes between car dealers and consumers to drop by 30 per cent with the implementation of the unified contract. The unified contract for sales comprises an invoice (containing the vehicle code, vehicle specifications, colour, engine capacity and checklist), warranty provided and a delivery acknowledgment from the customer. All printed documents should be in both Arabic and English. A service contract must include a service invoice, regular service check sheet, job cards and customer acknowledgment of the documents. For a parts contract, there should be an invoice with the service provider's name and address, description of the goods or services provided, sales unit, price in local currency and Arabic enabled documentation.
When: January 2012
Why: To help the UAE's automobile sector by making buying and selling activity more transparent, for the benefit of customer, officials say.
7. Fake mobile phones
What: UAE telecommunication service providers etisalat and du will suspend all services to mobile phone subscribers who use counterfeit handsets. Users of fake devices will be contacted by their service providers and all phones that are not type approved will be disconnected from all telecom services, including calls, texts and the internet, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said.
When: January 1, 2012
Why: Officials say fake phones could be hazardous as they may not meet safety standards.
Compiled by Deena Kamel Yousef, Dina Aboul Hosn, Binsal Abdul Kader and Shveta Pathak, Staff Reporters