Have you registered your SIM yet? [Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates)]
(Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) DUBAI - The long queue at the etisalat counter in Deira City Centre slows to a crawl on a busy Sunday afternoon. Patience is in short supply as the line grows with mostly irritable customers.
Some claim it takes 45 minutes to complete the procedure for SIM re-registration. Rashid M. is venting his frustration and mutters to a friend: "We should have done this earlier. This wait is getting me down." The man nods in agreement, shuffles through his papers to see if everything is in order and stares at the sliding glass door to the mall from where you can smell tobacco smoke.
The second deadline to re-register their SIM cards is fast upon residents of the UAE and there are no indications as yet from the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) that it will grant another extension past the January 16 deadline. Mobile telephone subscribers of etisalat and du who did not meet their first deadline got a breather only three months ago.
"They gave us very little time to re-register," complains Mahmood Maqbool, a 30-year old salesman, of the 'My Number, My Identity' campaign launched by the TRA in June last year to protect the privacy of mobile users and to prevent misuse of telephone numbers.
A rush to register was witnessed across the emirates at some etisalat centres, with many customers rueing the last ditch effort to get the job done.
Re-registration of SIMs requires updating details of the owner in the database and bars the transfer of the chip to another user for security reasons. A valid passport and the Emirates ID card are to be produced during the process and service providers have been sending reminders to batches of subscribers to complete the process at the earliest. Business and government customers are required to present a valid establishment card issued by the UAE Ministry of Interior.
Telecom major, etisalat, has over 6.3 million mobile subscribers in the country, with over a hundred outlets.
The UAE's largest service provider on Monday said it has extended working hours across its business centres to help customers meet the deadline.
Etisalat's business centres, kiosks and service centres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi will remain open until midnight from January 14 to 16. In the other emirates, working hours have been extended either until 8pm, 10pm or 12am, a statement said.
Du, the second telecom provider said three million subscribers have complied with the regulations. Speaking to Khaleej Times, Yasser Al Yousuf, director, Premium Personal Market Commercial, said: "We included the second batch of subscribers until January 6 and have not witnessed a rush at our centres. That's because we have reminded out customers over the last couple of weeks." The telecom regulatory authority had mandated the service providers to conduct the campaign in six batches. "We have 54 centres and other outlets and this has helped in most of our subscribers complying with the process," he added.
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