UAE mobile phone users will have to re-register their SIM cards every time they change their employment or residency visa status, the latest twist in ongoing confusion over the telecom regulator's policy.
The requirement for users to re-register their SIM when they change their visa status was confirmed to Arabian Business by a representative from UAE telecommunications operator du.
Some residents across the UAE have until Thursday to re-register their SIM cards as part of a Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) clampdown on illegal SIM cards and phones.
The TRA was forced to extend the deadline in October 2012 after du and Etisalat “were unable to provide smooth mechanisms to facilitate, accelerate and stimulate subscribers to update their data”.
Users can register their SIM cards by taking their passport or national ID to du or Etisalat registration points. As queues mount up at du and Etisalat stores across the UAE, confusion still exists over the terms and deadline regarding the re-registration process.
“I went to Mall of the Emirates to re-register my SIM card and the Etisalat service point was absolute chaos. I waited for more than half an hour before giving up because the queue wasn’t moving,” Richard Jennings, a UK expat in Dubai, told Arabian Business.
“I then tried another service point at the other side of the mall where the queue was shorter, but the member of staff there said I could not re-register until I’d been sent an SMS from Etisalat to tell me to do so. It was a waste of my time,” he added.
While a du representative said they were not aware of the January 17 deadline being extended, an email from an Etisalat customer support executive said in an email that “complete registration of all existing customers to be completed by 17-01-2014”.
“[Re-registration] prevents any unauthorised or criminal usage of SIM cards and helps in curbing legal or social violations besides reducing frauds that have been noticed during the last few years,” the TRA said.
Etisalat has 105 registration points across the UAE while du has 46, said the TRA and text messages are reportedly being sent out in a series of batches.