Thursday, 27 November 2014

Fingerprinting Females

As per this message currently making regular appearances in my message inbox....

أخي المواطن . . أخي المقيم
تسجيل بصمة المقيمات متطلب لتجديد الإقامة اعتباراً من تاريخ 1/4/1436هـ الموافق 21/1/2015م  .
المديرية العامة للجوازات
Dear citizen..resident ,
fingerprints recording for females residents is a requirement for renewal Iqama service starting from 21/1/2015.
General Directorate Of Passport

...I went to get my fingerprints done today.  

A number of my friends got their biometrics recorded ages ago.  I thought I'd wait till the rush had died down because, from the fingerprinting stories they told, the whole exercise was bedlam and physically dangerous with crowds of women rushing at the single entry door of the fingerprint room.  

As I'm leaving for Christmas and not coming back till after January I figured I would preempt any glitch that may hit the system while I'm away and get my prints on file today. 

Unfortunately the messages I had been getting failed to advise that I should take my passport with me as well as my iqama.  

Yesterday I headed off to Royal Mall where, if there was organization in the fingerprint room, it wasn't immediately obvious and everything was written in Arabic.  

The only reason I got attention was because I was the only lost looking foreigner in the place and one of the ladies assisting must have read my lips as I looked around going "o..m...g" or something similar!

She, after having a little chat with me, advised it might be better to go to the Immigration Office to get my prints done. Given that I was feeling rather overwhelmed by the noise level, bedlam and queues in the place, I decided not to debate the ins and outs of her suggestion and left.  

Most of my friends had got their prints done at Sahara and one had mentioned a location on Dammam road that was not busy at all.  I figured I'd call in to one of those the next day on my way to work.  Hence the reason I'm at Sahara Mall this morning. 

The passport office is upstairs near Entrance 4.  There is a little passageway between Cinnabon and Roti Boy across which there is a divider tape that many women are ignoring and walking straight past and behind which one man is frantically trying to get women out of.  

He, it turns out, is also in charge of giving out numbered tickets.  It would help immensely if he was behind a little boothe that said "Get Your Tickets Here".  After collecting my ticket I sat with the other women, who obviously knew the drill, out in the family food section watching the little screen for my number to come up. 

While waiting I thought 'wouldn't it be nice if the two shops at which women must gaze while awaiting their number were healthy eating food shops'. Instead of eating sticky buns and sugar loaded drinks, eat a delish salad and healthy shake!  With the thousands of women who have to get their biometrics recorded and sit on their fannies while waiting for their number to come up, the potential for subliminal messaging about healthy food is huge. But no...we get to look at junk food!

On my way into the fingerprint room I read the note on the door that mentioned the bringing of passports and iqamas.  Oh crap, I wish I'd known that before!

There were a few women lined up in this little, fairly warm, airless room and two women behind desks.  I couldn't help but think what a terrible place to work.  The conditions could explain why the young woman behind the desk I was directed to was a bit terse.  That and the fact that she was being asked questions by numerous people at once, one of them being the male fingerprint guy who had to call his questions through the rather busy door!

I handed over my iqama, no mention was made of the passport, fingerprints were electronically recorded, photo taken while I'm looking off into space somewhere (I hadn't proprerly posed for the shot) and that was it, I could go.  

I thanked my busy fingerprinter, something no one else, I noted, had done before me.  

So now I am in the system.  Here's hoping there isn't a glitch due to a lack of passport.  I am a fingerprinted female in Saudi Arabia. 

Ka Kite 

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