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Sunday, May 9, 2021

Supply shortage stalls issuance of Qatar ID cards

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MOI

For the past several weeks, an apparent redesign of Qatar’s identification cards has made it difficult for some residents to be issued new IDs and also for others to enroll in the country’s e-government and e-gate program.

Several public relations officers (PRO) who deal with immigration issues on behalf of employees told Doha News that they have been unable to obtain new ID cards this month, an experience echoed by several residents:

Government officials appear to be sending mixed messages regarding the nature of the problem. Two government relations officers said that they were told that there was a shortage of the actual plastic cards, as the Ministry of Interior rolls out its next generation of IDs.

Another professional said he was told that a shortage of transparent plastic film that’s applied to the redesigned cards was causing the problem.

However, another person said he was told that the issue was related to much-needed software upgrades that would accelerate processing times.

An MOI official reached by Doha News said that he had no information to share.

Card upgrades

The MOI began introducing smart cards, capable of storing biometric data such as fingerprints and eye scans on an embedded electronic chip used to verify the cardholder’s’ identity, for expats in 2011.

Most new Qatar residents still receive a traditional ID card with a barcode, but can exchange it for a smart card when enrolling in the e-gate program, which allows airline passengers to bypass lineups at passport control.

Several PROs said the issuance and renewal of residence permits remains unaffected, and that MOI officials are affixing stickers to residents’ travel documents to affirm their legal status in the country.

The PROs advise residents who cannot obtain an ID card to carry their passports with them at all times. When needed, letters from employers explaining the delay can help in applying for services such as new mobile phone accounts.

While one PRO said there was a brief three-day window in early January during which cards were issued before the process was halted again, another said he received several new IDs for employees this week and was hopeful that the backlog would soon be eliminated.

Additionally, some residents are reporting no problems getting smart cards this week:

Have you been affected? Thoughts?

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