After many announcements about the new Emirates ID cards becoming mandatory for all residents of the UAE over the past year, many people simply brushed off the requirement to a later time. The ID cards would contain personal data including the address, photo, date of birth, and fingerprints of each resident, and would be used as official identification throughout the country. When it seemed many were not taking the issues too seriously, the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) issued various warnings that people without ID cards would not be allowed to access certain government services and could face significant fines. Not too long after the issuing of the warnings, the deadline for obtaining the ID cards was pushed back due to the last minute rush causing crowding at the EIDA typing centers, and long queues. Under the new timeline, Emiratis have been given until June 30, 2011 to register, which is a six-month extension, while expatriate workers can register whenever they renew or apply for a residency visa. According to the agency, more than 1.5m residents registered for cards in 2010. With heavy coverage from local news on the Emirates ID issue, Socialeyez decided to gauge the buzz around this topic. The following is a report detailing the results of an extensive search on the social media coverage regarding the Emirates ID cards.
Many discussions were found online regarding the topic; however, results were almost exclusively in English. 578 results were captured in total over the period of November 15, 2010-December 29, 2010. The whole of the data was used to give insight on the buzz. The volume of results was highest on the 26th of December, which was one day after the announcement of the extension was made.
The link to the announcement, issued December 25th on the EIDA website is provided: (http://www.emiratesid.ae/en/news-updates/news/identity-card-registration-deadline-for-nationals-extended-for-six-months-and-registration-of.aspx).
The volume in the days leading up to the extension was also high, and it seems people had been discussing the topic and the fast approaching deadline. There was also a clear peak of volume on the 22nd of December, which was one day after Abu Dhabi announced that it would adopt ID cards in all transactions for individuals.
Where were people talking?
The vast majority of posts were found on Micro-blogs such as Twitter (41.6%), followed by Social Networks, which also had a significant percentage of results (32.6%), and include sites such as Facebook. It is important to note that in the majority of the actual conversations took place on Message Boards/Forums, while results found on Micro-blogs and Social Networks were simple statements or links to news articles.
According to our system, online conversations generally occurred in the United States and the United Arab Emirates. However, it is essential to remember that our system tracks results and attributes a country to a result based on a mention of a location in the profile or the comment of the user, and if not found, our system then attributes the result to the host server of the website, which for many popular websites (such as Facebook, and Twitter) is the United States. This is the reason that the United States shows up as one of the countries with the highest volume of results.
How did people feel?
In general, if the question posed was: “How do you feel about the Emirates ID process?”, 69% of the discussions were neutral in nature, with people reposting links of news articles and asking others questions about the deadline, procedure, etc. Aside from the neutral sentiment, negative sentiment was the next most frequent acquiring 27% of the total volume. Only 4% of the sentiment was positive.
What were people saying?
There was an array of various types of comments to be found. Many people had questions about the process, and posted comments in order to find some clarification on the issue surrounding the ID:
“How do you change your appointment? The number they gave me in my day-late SMS doesn’t work.”
“Does anyone know the quickest way to get this done ?”
“They said that it’s a must to have the emirates ID.card…or else well be fined at the airport when I come back! How true?”
“Any update on Emirates ID Card..31 Dec is the final deadline?? Pls share Guys if you have any info..heard we have to Pay fine after 31Dec..Pls confirm if any one has info about it..Thanks,”
However, many used various social media outlets to vent about their frustration regarding the long queues, the requirement to leave passports behind and other complications:
“3 hours in queue for emirates id and counting. I wanna hurt someone so bad.”
“UGGHHH… you have to leave your passport???”
“At the Emirates ID office, not seen this many angry ladies in one place before.”
“gggrrrrrrrr….fed up of this emirates id…always changing rules…..gggrrrr…….”
“huhh!!! I’ve been queing here today at 6am (immigration)for emirates id but still not yet finish grrrrr….sleepy,dizzy and hungry.”
There were also many complaints about the fees that need to be paid in order to process the Emirates ID cards, and misinformation about how much the process actually costs:
“@Mahmoud_ @omarulhaq Emirates ID is a scam. They’ve pushed the “deadline” countless times. I refuse to let them con me out of 200 dhs!”
“670 dirhams??? WOW… Going to see if I can just skid by without that”
“Yup… a rip off BUT you will end up paying unless you luv waiting for hours and hours. They will ask money for everything since we don’t pay taxes here. This is the reality for newbies like me!!! Does it mean that is sucks to me ? Pretty much HAHA. For you it is fine..you did not have to go through this. The UAE ID Card saga costs 470 Dhs and I hope it is one time deal. If you decide to renew your visa I hope they keep the same number otherwise it will suck. Sorry for using “suck” but it really does S*ck.”
Finally, some people simply resulted to using their statuses to celebrate the extension, or share with friends the fact that they have finally completed the long process:
“Great news to all in UAE deadline for Emirates ID extended up to 30 June 2011 ……,”
“Just finished applying for our Emirates ID card… It’s like joining the Amazing Race and finishing as the Ultimate Survivor Philippines…”
“yipeeeeeeeeeeeeee………….i got ma “EMIRATES ID”