GCC smart card deadline looms

ABU DHABI — GCC countries are racing against time to meet a year-end deadline fixed by the GCC General Secretariat for issuance of smart cards to their citizens to facilitate their travel within the six states.

By Muawia E. Ibrahim

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Published: Wed 13 Jul 2005, 10:14 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:42 PM

"We have given member states a deadline before which they should all complete their national identity card schemes. Most of the member states have gone a long way in their programmes and I think they will meet the deadline, which is by the end of this year," Colonel Rashid Salim Al Muhairi, Director of Security Department at the GCC General Secretariat told Khaleej Times.

Several member states have already completed their national ID schemes. The UAE's NID project is expected to be completed by this year-end. Citizens of some GCC states are already travelling using their national identity cards under bilateral agreements.

Once the new system is fully operational, citizens of GCC states will be able to exit and enter the six GCC countries without having to wait in queue to process passports. The card will also replace the driving licence; cash link cards, and health card.

"The smart card will be used as a multi-purpose card. It will be used as an identity card, a driving licence, a health card, for bank dealings and at border outlets, etc," Col. Muhairi noted, adding that the smart card is machine-readable with many hi-tech security features.

The cards will be issued in a unified size but in different colours. It will be left to each state to choose the colours, be it their national flag colours or any other colour. The card will carry the emblem of the country besides the GCC emblem.

Asked whether non-citizens of GCC states could be allowed to travel within the member states using the smart card, the director of security department at the GCC General Secretariat said it had been agreed the same card would be issued to them, however, allowing them to travel using the card has not yet been decided.

"We haven't yet reached a decision regarding this, but, of course, the matter will be discussed," said Col Muhairi stated.

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