Dubai launches 'mobile visa' service
Visitors to Dubai will be able to apply for and receive visas through their mobile phones as part of a new service, it has been reported. According to local daily Gulf Today, the initiative will allow visitors to register for an entry visa through the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs’ website and receive the visa immediately via SMS to their handset. The report did not specify any more details of the project, other than it part of Dubai ruler and UAE vice president and prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s new ‘M-Government’ plan. The scheme will see all government entities in the Gulf state provide their services via mobile phones, text messaging and other portable devices within the next two years. The plan follows on from the launch of the UAE’s e-Government initiative in 2000, which has seen many government services made available via the internet in the time since. \"We are embracing the most modern concept in innovative government by moving towards the delivery of government services through mobile phones,” Sheikh Mohammed said.\"The objective now is to relocate customer service centres into every customer device, enabling them to obtain their desired service through their mobile phones anywhere and at any time. A successful government reaches out to the citizens rather than wait for them to come to it,\" he added. The announcement did not specify exactly what services would be made available and when. The UAE has one of the highest rates of mobile phone penetration in the world, with approximately 14m active subscribers across a permanent population of about 8m.