Posted by: englishdubai | July 7, 2009

You Don’t Know What you’ve Got Till its Gone

As I have written about before. The UAE’s eGate system for speedy transit through the airport is nothing short of a work of genius. I did a quick calculation, say I have to queue for on average 20 minutes on each return flight I make, then eGate has saved me more than 25 hours of queuing!  More than a day of my life, thank you eGate!

So it was with frustration that on a recent trip I somehow managed to misplace my eGate card. No problem I thought, there is handily placed eGate office just after you go through security at the shiny new Business section of Terminal 3. I will get a replacement next time I travel. I had a lot of time to think about this, as when I landed back into Dubai from this trip the queues at immigration were taking about an hour.

I duly visit said office and the nice chap behind the counter said “Sorry, if it is not-expired then I will need a police report to issue you a replacement card” – OK,  fair enough it is an important document, I will go to the Police station at the weekend and get the necessary.

Attempt 1: With my trusty Arabic speaking mate with me and passport in my pocket, I went over to the nearest police station just near Mall of the Emirates. Sadly, not only was it closed but the chap at the gate said we would need to do this at the central police station in Bur Dubai.

Attempt 2: Again I am accompanied with my Arabic speaking friend and I have my passport we head over to the Bur Dubai police station. I see it from one side of the road but when we made the u-turn we ended up parking in the DNRD – I did wonder why I didn’t see any of Dubai’s finest walking around.

The Police station was on the next block so we drove around and parked outside. Little did we know we had parked diametrically opposite the only entrance. By the time we had walked about 500 meters it was too late to turn back. The Sun was beating down on us a blistering 46c heat and the humidity was up at 80+%. I was soaked by the time I had reached the cool air of the foyer.Then the fun really started. First thing I needed was a drink of water but sadly I had left my dirham coins in the car so I couldn’t get a drink from the vending machine.

I thought we had better get on with this. First, I got the appropriate queuing ticket from the machine and my friend asked at the reception desk what we needed to do. He gave him a form and asked him to complete it in Arabic. Now, if I had been alone it would have been game over. But he duly completed it and we waited patiently for about 45 minutes for the number to be called.

The uniformed police chap made me laugh. Particularly at my friends attempt to put my nationality as “Engleesy” and opposed “British” in Arabic. However, he informed us that I needed passport photocopies (naturally I had those) but I also needed two passport photos and my eGate card number (the one I had lost)

So empty handed we hiked back to the car through the sweltering Dubai sun, but not before each buying two liters of water to drink. Then enjoyed getting back into the car which had heated up nicely to about 65c. Beautiful. Time for a shower and an isotonic drink.

Attempt 2.5 – Early the following morning I popped down to the Dnata centre and the friendly lady there quickly gave me my eGate card number on production of my passport. Excellent.

Attempt 3 – This time I was ready. Arabic speaking friend – check. Location of where to park – check, Passport Copy – check, passport photos – check, eGate number – check, completed Arabic form – check, pocketful of dirham coins – check. All of it was nicely organised.

My friend showed the documentation to the the chap at reception who then told him to get a different ticket from the machine. He then promptly told us to go to room 26. As we headed down there we were getting alarmingly close to the cells and the door next to the cell entrance was 25. Surely an error? It wasn’t, room 26 turned out to be on the other side of the building. When we go there the chap there told us – we should be in room 17. Once we got there – the guy said we needed to be next door in room 15.

Once in room 15 there was flurry of efficient activity and a handing over of the documents and a 20aed processing fee. We were then told to wait as the final police report needed to be signed by the Chief of Police. Sure enough, 20 minutes later a young police officer who helped us in room 15 came out with the report.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief and thanked him. After that it was a simple matter of getting a new eGate card.

Wow this was quite an experience that stretched out over a week. But it was worth it – eGate is the best and other countries would do well to look at this system as top of the class.

The moral of this story? Never, ever, lose important documents. Passport, driving license or eGate card. You will need to work to get them back and keeping a scan of them is a pretty good idea.

An Englishman in Dubai – sweating so you don’t have too.


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