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Monday, June 21, 2021

More Qatar government services move online, saving visits to ministries

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

With reporting from Heba Fahmy

Qatar’s Ministry of Interior is making it easier for residents to check on the status of their pending documents, such as visas and residence permits, with the overhaul of its e-services portal.

MOI added some dozen new services to its revamped site, bringing together departments including traffic, passports, immigration, borders and criminal evidence and intelligence, it said in a statement yesterday.

While most of the new services were previously offered on the Metrash2 mobile phone app, this is the first time they have been put all together in one dashboard on a website, making them easier to access for those without a smartphone or who don’t have the app.

How it works

In total, there are some 250 services for companies and individuals on the website, which is in Arabic and English and can be accessed from the main MOI home page, under “e-services.”

There are two main sections: the “Services” tab provides a list of options for companies to use with a smartcard reader, while individual residents should click on “Inquiries and Requests.”

Dashboard of MOI site
Dashboard of MOI site

Using their Qatar ID number, residents can:

  • Check the status of exit permit applications;
  • Monitor any traffic violations and view traffic reports;
  • Track applications for a residence permit;
  • Apply for and monitor the progress of visa applications; and
  • Apply to change visa type.

The dashboard’s services tab also allows companies and individuals with smartcard readers to renew e-gate cards, arrange the necessary paperwork to transfer vehicle ownership to another person and obtain a certificate for exporting a vehicle, MOI said.

Many of these services already appeared to be offered on the government website Hukoomi, but that site often forwards users to various other avenues, rather than allowing them to solve their issues online.

The updated MOI website should provide another way for residents and companies to process various applications without needing to visit a government department in person.

Metrash app

During 2015, the ministry handled 1.2 million transactions, while the Metrash2 app has dealt with more than 4 million queries, MOI added.

Metrash2
Metrash2

Metrash2 was launched in last 2012 as an updated version of the previously-existing Metrash mobile app, allowing nationals and expats to undertake simple procedures such as  renewing residence permits, renewing and replacing driver’s licenses, conducting vehicle ownership transfers, completing visit visa applications and approvals and renewing e-gate cards from their phone.

The first Metrash system (which means “sending someone on your behalf” in Arabic) was launched nine years ago.

It sends text message updates letting people know when their residence permits and other important documents are set to expire, and when they have a traffic violation.

Uptake for the service was initially slow, with many residents saying at the time they were unaware of the app and how to use it. When it was first launched, it was also only available for use by Ooredoo customers, although Vodafone subsequently joined the scheme.

In recent months, government organizations have been attempting to streamline services, offering more of them electronically to reduce the need for residents to turn up and wait in often lengthy queues to process their requests.

New ID cards

In another effort to reduce physical trips to government offices, the MOI announced an overhaul of its Qatar ID system in June, getting rid of the old RP stickers in passports and replacing them with smart ID cards.

Qatar ID card
Qatar ID card

The new cards include additional information such as a resident’s visa details as well as their home address.

At the time, the ministry said the new card system would help its efforts to become paperless, and to speed up the process of obtaining visas.

Its launch followed a six-month trial of the sticker-less system, which began in November last year.

An MOI official said the aim of the new system was to move toward an entirely online application system for RPs and to phase out the need to complete the procedures in person.

MEC services

The MOI is not the only ministry to move more of its paperwork online. Earlier this month, the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) launched a new service on its updated mobile app that allows investors to request or renew a commercial permit.

The new service allows investors to apply and upload documents to apply for a new or renew an existing commercial permit.

Once the application is processed, the applicant will be sent a text message advising them of the date of the site inspection visit, which is scheduled within 24 hours of the application submission.

The applicant will then receive another SMS notifying him of the application fees. Once paid, the applicant will receive a copy of the commercial permit by email, MEC said in a statement.

The app is available for download through the app stores of Android and iPhone under the name MEC_QATAR. Detailed videos on how to use the app are posted on MEC’s YouTube channel, in English, Arabic and Urdu.

Do you plan to use the new MOI site? Thoughts?

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