GDRFA-Dubai in the forefront of tapping digital technology and Smart governance

June 16, 2014 9:23 am

The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA-Dubai) has remained in the forefront of Smart government initiative under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Major General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director General of GDRFA-Dubai, said: “Over the past five years, we have successfully increased smart services from 65 per cent in 2007 to 96 per cent as of today. We now offer 267 electronic services to the public and are confident of becoming ‘Smart’ organization of the highest level by end-2015.”

Commenting about the public services in digital era and the transformation of GDRFA-Dubai into a Smart organization in his welcome message in the June edition of Manafez Dubai, the official bilingual monthly newsletter of GDRFA-Dubai, he said the UAE’s Digital Era successes are many and the world has not been recognizing them but also getting inspired.

He said the UAE has moved up in the latest global rankings of information and communication technology (ICT) competitiveness report of the World Economic Forum (WEF), strengthening its position as one of the most techno-savvy countries in the world. The UAE has also been ranked as the world’s 24th most “networked ready” nation by the Swiss-based International Institute for Management Development (IMD). One project that will go a long way in the world’s first smart apps store launched by the UAE government with about 100 apps available for downloads on Smart phones.

Major General Al Marri disclosed that a unique job-linked programme to create a pool of qualified and skilled cadre of Emiratis in specialized domains at the Directorate has attracted 71 secondary school students over the past four years. The GDRFA Dubai-sponsored Raeyaa initiative has been helping in building an excellent cadre of young and talented UAE nationals to take up various responsibilities at the GDRFA-Dubai. Under the Emiratisation programme, selected students pursue their university studies in specializations needed by the GDRFA-Dubai.

The selected students on completion of their studies are to be employed to work as officers at the GDRFA-Dubai. The selected students are provided AED6000 a month each during the course of their studies and the amount is higher in the case of meritorious candidates. Students are selected based on several criteria like Dubai Government’s strategic goals, GDRFA policies and actual needs of various GDRFA Sectors. The number of beneficiaries for the programme in 2011 was 26, followed by 23 in 2012, 18 in 2013 and four in the the first quarter of 2014.

The GDRFA-Dubai is focusing on ICT, Electronic Engineering and Statistics among other as it enhances its portfolio of electronic services to customers and aiming to become a fully Smart department in line with the Dubai Government’s Smart Government programme before the deadline set for the initiative. The programme covers a number of universities in and outside the UAE, including the Zayed University, Univesity of Sharjah, Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) and the UAE University. GDRFA-Dubai offers financial benefits to students with the highest academic performance.

In his column titled Mohammed bin Rashid Era, Brigadier Obaid Moheir bin Suroor, Deputy Director General of GDRFA-Dubai, said the GDRFA-Dubai was just a few months away from becoming a text-book perfect ‘Smart’ organization. “We are in Mohammed bin Rashid era. That’s why our expectations have no limits. We are always thinking about what next steps that (His Highness Sheikh) Mohammed bin Rashid (Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai) wants us to climb in the journey of success and excellence.”

He remarked: “We live in a fast changing world with full of challenges and developments that are bringing about huge transformation to our world. The fast changes to our national economy and God-blessed security in our beloved nation have made the UAE a lighthouse for millions of investors, tourists and dreamers of a better future from all over the world. Statistics suggests that about 70 million passengers will travel through the Dubai International Airport by the end of the current year while Dubai hotels will host more than 12 million guests in 2014.”

Conceptualized, produced, marketed and promoted by Nadd Al Shiba PR & Event Management, the online version of the glossy, multi-colour publication is available at

The newsletter has a report about the Facial Recognition Technology which is contributing to what will become a $20 billion market globally by 2020. Dubai Police had announced its intention to use Google Glass as part of its road traffic management measures.

The newsletter also has reports about the unbridled problem of illegal immigration to European Union countries by boat by people from non-EU countries.

Another report highlights how connectedness among the economies has been enhancing global flows of goods and people and the findings of an opinion poll in seven European countries that brings to fore the support of most Europeans for limiting immigration to their countries.

In the UAE News, the newsletter carries details a survey that reveals more British expats picking the UAE to start new lives and the arrest of 9639 of UAE’s most wanted persons in 2013.

In the Middle East section, the newsletter provides details about Oman introducing two year ban on job visa change from July 1, Kuwait’s parliamentary panel rejecting a proposal for imposing a five-year expat residency cap and Saudi Arabia’s decision to launch tourism-linked Umrah visa that will benefit millions of visitors. The International News section has stories about the latest proposals by the US to attract highly-skilled workforce, new law requiring knowledge of Russian for residency and Canada launching new residency-linked investor scheme.

In the Opinion Columns, the role of IT at the borders has been highlighted by Michaelia Cash, Australia’s Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, while the future trends of technology has been argued by Brett Beranek, a Biometrics Expert at Nuance.