As I went about the business of life last week, I happened to have a couple of telling experiences that I feel compelled to share.
Applying for anything anywhere in the world, even in digital times, can be a tedious process. Invariably, we leave things to the last minute, scramble to put the required documents together; discover something is missing when we submit them; desperately go about the course correction and then, wait endlessly for the application to be processed and approved.
But not so in Dubai. I eat my words.
The ease with which I managed to get a family member’s visa renewed last week defied all odds. Factoring my visit to Amer, the centre for immigration services, I left home for work earlier than usual. At the centre, I was lucky I could get to a counter as soon as I had collected my coupon. Thankfully, the documentation I presented too was in order. The lady who attended to me asked me if I wanted to take the ‘urgent’ route for visa stamping. That way, she said, I could get it done at the same centre on the same day.
I exercised the option and made the due payment. Hoping to return later in the day after receiving an approval from the General Directorate of Foreign Affairs and Residency (GDRFA) on SMS, I prepared to leave. But to my very pleasant surprise, I got the intimation right away. And the visa stamping was also done almost immediately. Give or take, the whole process must have taken around 10 minutes.
Wow! Where in the world do you see such efficiency? In fact, just the previous day, I had found myself asking the same question. An unfortunate accident on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (E311) near Jumeirah Golf Estates had caused a huge tailback during the evening rush hour. But Dubai Police and other authorities, who had rushed to the spot, managed to clear the accident site and streamline the traffic flow in record time.
A system that delivers
As residents of Dubai, we take such best-in-class services for granted: A smooth drive on a state-of-the-art road; a safe walk in the night on a brightly lit boulevard; uninterrupted utilities; a paramedic at our door with a doctor on call should we need them; why, even the easing of COVID-19 restrictions beginning February 15 … the list can go on.
Even visitors experience the difference: Whether it’s a tourist whose lost watch was home-delivered to him all the way in the US by Emirates; a taxi passenger who got back 25kg of gold from the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) after he left his bag behind in the boot; despaired patients who get help from volunteers; and so on.
It’s not as if these things just happen, much as it may seem that way. There’s a highly concerted and committed effort by forces that tirelessly work 24/7 to ensure the system delivers. Not just that, their performance is monitored and rated by the authorities, so they keep raising the bar and outdoing themselves.
Not surprisingly, UAE is topping the global rankings on an increasing number of indicators. A habitual record-setter, Dubai can pride itself not only of being one of the most innovative and dynamic economies in the world, but also among the happiest, safest and the best cities to live and work in. But it’s not about wanting to stay ahead of the race or being able to clinch another world title. It’s about the genuine will to do the best.
As residents and beneficiaries, we feel truly thankful. And what better day than today, February 14, to express our gratitude.