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His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has approved an initiative called 'A Day without Service Centers'. Launched by Dubai Department of Finance (DOF), the initiative aims to encourage customers to turn to smart channels to obtain and complete government services and transactions.

To this end, transactions requiring payments at customer service centers operating in Dubai will be stopped for one day. DOF has started coordinating with all government entities in Dubai to implement the initiative to close service centers across the emirate for a day on 26 October 2017. This comes as part of the vital role DOF plays as an established central entity concerned with collecting public revenues for Dubai Government.

"Instantly, all government entities across Dubai Government have started cooperating to make the initiative a success," said Abdulrahman Saleh Al Saleh, DOF Director General. "This first-of-a-kind initiative comes in with the supreme directions of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to make Dubai the world's happiest and smartest city. It is also made possible thanks to the support of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, who is following up on the steps taken in this regard."

Al Saleh said DOF plays a "key role towards achieving Dubai's vision and strategy aiming to realize full smart transformation in the emirate." He called on all government service entities in Dubai to enhance such constructive cooperation to make the 'A Day without Service Centers' initiative a success.

"Customer service centers will dedicate their efforts on Thursday, 26 October, to spread awareness among customers of the importance of transformation to smart channels to complete transactions, whether via smart apps or the web. On that day, all transactions requiring payments will be stopped for one day at the centers, but will remain available through all smart channels," Al Saleh added.

Jamal Hamed Al Mari, Executive Director of Central Accounts Sector at DOF, said that service transactions provided by many government entities in Dubai on Thursday, 26 October, will be available only via smart channels, including 'Dubai Now' app and other government apps available for smart phones. "There will also be the web-based channels via computers, and centers will resume normal operations after that date," he said.

The initiative will be held annually and will see expansion, Al Marri added. "Participating government entities have expressed their happiness and excitement to take part in the initiative, and promised to work towards making it a success by encouraging customers to go for smart channels. We are working with various government entities to coordinate efforts to prepare all customer segments for digital transformation, and encourage them to use e-pay, via smart phones or computers."

Service counters at government centers in Dubai will stop receiving customers with transactions that can be done via alternative smart channels. However, transactions that require presence in person at the service centers will continue as usual.

Completing government transactions via smart channels helps save customers' time, effort and money by avoiding use of private or public means of transport, and avoiding crowded roads and service centers, thus helping in preserving environmental resources, rationalizing fuel consumption, and reducing carbon emissions.