Ameen Abdullah Al Mudarab has been a regular visitor to the residency department in Dubai since 1976. The public relations officer finds it hard to describe how the department has been transformed over the years, constantly improving its services every time he went back representing the various companies he has worked with. "What is done now at the GDRFA [General Department for Residency and Foreigners Affairs] is a miracle. It was in a big mess. We used to come here with applications from 4am and wait endlessly. Now some employees come to work as early as 6am and we get our work finished before 7.30am; add to that the amazing e-services offered by the department coupled with SMS reminders to the public to come and finish their work," he said. "People do not need to visit the director-general's office to make enquiries like in the past. Now each and every employee knows his or her job," he added. Alia Al Ameri, an Emirati public relations officer, said that the remarkable progress at the GDRFA was hard to miss. "I appreciate their efforts here to offer the best services to the public. I visit the department daily to finish my work which is done quickly and on time," she said. Special needs "They even have special services for elderly people and those with special needs," she said. "At the ladies' counter we just sit down in the private section and we get all our work done quickly and efficiently," she said. Alia recalled the times when visits to the residency section were particularly embarrassing for women because they would have to line up with hundreds of men. "I feel confident now; I work and I still have my privacy here." Mohammad Al Amiri, from Yemen, who owns a tourism company, said the level of service offered at the section and the attitude of employees to customers had undergone a sea change over the years. "I can say it is a unique department," he said. Online services Abdul Rahman from India said he often visited the residency section to follow up various procedures related to his company. "They introduced very good services and e-services which have speeded up transactions," he said. "No queues here any more. It has become very well organised," he said highlighting online enquiry management systems that allow live chats with GDRFA staff to log complaints and respond to information requests. Mustafa from Egypt rated the services as excellent and said the department never shut the door on enquiries, criticism or complaints. Impressed Gulam from Bangladesh also was impressed with the level of services. "To be honest I am very happy with the services offered by this government department," he said. Latya Tesaluna from Philippines said staff at the residency department were extremely helpful. "We had problems related to residency issues and when we approached them here, they helped us with our problem — they meet the public with a smile," she said. Public access GDRFA can be approached directly at its headquarters in Dubai's Al Jaffiliya area. People can apply for their visas, residency or any other related issues online or visit one of the external offices of the department. The external offices offer all services related to residence visas, entry permits and related services. The external offices of the department are located in Abu Hail, Hatta, Jebel Ali Free Zone, besides Aamal at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Deira, Al Dewan Centre, Arabian Mall in Mirdif, Bin Souqat Mall, Bab Al Shams. The e-gate card- issuing facilities are at The Jumeirah Group Hotel Resort, Dubai Dry Docks, Dubai Industrial City, Dubai International Airport terminals 1, 2, 3, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Dubai Media City, Emirates airline office centre, Dubai Police headquarters, Emirates airlines DNATA Holidays building, Jebel Ali Port, Umm Suqeim Dubai Municipality centre, Karama Centre, Shindagha Port and Port Rashid which provide services for tourists arriving at the Dubai Cruise Terminal. •GDRFA working hours: 7.30am to 8pm. •Tel: 009714-3980000 •Customer service tel: 009714-3139999 (24 hours) •Fax 009714-3981119 •Email: firstname.lastname@example.org •PO Box 4333, Dubai, UAE GDRFA e-services include: •Amer helpline 800-5111 (toll-free), which assures a 24/7 response to any public queries related to visa or naturalisation procedures. There is also a live online chat system . •Online applications for visas through the residency website for companies •www.amer.ae — DNRD Amer help service with online chat available •GDRFA website, Arabic and English, www.dnrd.gov.ae. •Special service offers include the pick-up and delivery of documents to homes in all emirates.