Friday, July 25, 2008

Mind boggling bureaucracy

Red tape isn't unique to Dubai by any stretch of the imagination. But as New Dubai is being built from scratch we have the opportunity not to make the mistakes others have made. We can look around the world, we can see what the problems are, we can see the very best as well as the worst. We can reject the bad and take & adapt the best of the best.

But all too often we don't.

Two stories in the news the past couple of days illustrate the problem. Car pooling and visas.

Car pooling is something that is an obvious tool in the battle against congested traffic. We don't have a viable public transport system so by necessity private vehicle use is high.

On their Sharekni website the RTA lists ten excellent reasons for encouraging car pooling, indicating that they understand the problem.

So what do the authorities need to do about car pooling?


Well just one thing. Taking the lead from other commuter cities around the world, make a transit lane available only to cars which are full. The lane operates with the traffic flow morning and evening during the appropriate timings, with the police out to ensure compliance.

Apart from that there's nothing that needs to be done. Just let people get on with it, resulting in all the benefits the RTA itself lists.

So having now decided that car pooling is legal and A Good Thing is that what happens?

No, we have a huge, complicated, unnecessary system installed.

People wanting to car pool have to register on the website. Name, gender, nationality, employer's name, contact numbers...the usual red tape. They have to record the vehicle, the driver's details, the passengers' details. If they take it in turns to drive each other to work they all have to register as driver of their own car and as passenger in each of the other cars.

The permission is valid for six months and all drivers and passengers must renew the permission before it expires.

The obvious question is why complicate a very simple issue?

Then to the new visa regulations.

If they've decided that the visa renewal runs to Kish, Oman etc are to be stopped, if they want to reduce the number of people coming on a visit visa and looking for a job, I'm not querying that.

But increasing tourism is an important element in Dubai's future. So is industrial & commercial expansion, with its demand for more workers. Making it harder, more complicated, more costly to come to Dubai hurts those vital parts of Dubai's future.

And why on earth introduce so many different types of visa, so many different costs, so many restrictions, so much bureaucracy?

As part of the changes announced yesterday we were told that the 34 nationalities previously given a free 60 day visa on arrival will from July 29 have to pay Dh100 for a 30 day visa and Dh610 for a 30 day extension.

Today we're told that this fee is 'on hold until the correct mechanism is in place'.

Introduce a system, put a start date on it, then realise that you forgot to put a mechanism in place to actually operate it.

Well done.

Everyone arriving, except the 34 nationalities, must pay a Dh1,000 refundable deposit.

Who will collect the deposit? Travel agent, airline, Immigration desk at the airport?

Think of the bureaucracy it'll take to collect and give receipts for the money.

And, worse, how will refunding it be handled?

Do visitors have to go back to their travel agent or airline? Will it be refunded at the airport after they've checked in for their outward flight? A super-jumbo full, over half a million dirhams to be refunded per aircraft, all queueing up somewhere with receipts to be checked, money to be counted.

The information we have is vague at best.

Everyone arriving, except the 34 nationalities, must have health insurance.

Apparently, health insurance was necessary because: "People could be involved in a traffic accident or get a health problem."

Fair enough but, errr, doesn't this apply to citizens of the 34 countries too?

Anyway, moving on...the list of visas now available is multi-entry, long term, short term, education, medical treatment, exhibition, conference, festival, tourist, service, transit plus a whole list for 'complimentary', embassies, GCC. They range from a validity of 14 to 90 days, costs from free to Dh2110.

Tourist visas can only be applied for by hotels or licensed travel agents, residents cannot sponsor friends. Question. What about visitors staying with friends who do as airlines encourage us to do and book with them direct online? There are thousands who fall into this category, helping our economy by spending money while they're here.

An over-complicated system, far too much bureaucracy and, it would appear either not thought through properly or not communicated properly.

Probably both.

Sharekni is here.

Visa reports are here and here.


Keefieboy said...

Ye gods. I turn my back on the place for a year, and this is what happens!

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to hate this place !!!

Anonymous said...

I question whether too much was actually wrong with the old system of visa's in this country.
I believe that their is a financial motivation for most changes Govt here makes.

Seabee said...

Keefie - A YEAR?!! Where did that time go?

Rose in Dubai said...

Yes but you're missing the point. Its all about job creation for Nationals and since they refuse to work in proper jobs you have to give them something where they can mess up peoples lives and make themselves feel important.

Keefieboy said...

Seabee: yes, a whole year. Where it went to? having fun in Madrid, where bureaucracy is just as bad, but not paid for directly because we have sensible things like TAX!