International visitors frequently coming to Dubai will “soon” be able to clear immigration much faster due to a new passport control system, officials have revealed.
An automatic registration system enabled by advanced cameras will carry out the eye-scan of all passengers, cutting out the need to wait in the queue for the mandatory security check procedure, senior officials told official news agency WAM.
Passengers’ biometric data (iris and facial recognition features) will be recorded and stored on the system during their first entry through Dubai Airports. From their second visit onwards, visitors will not require to go through an eye-scan.
“At present, visitors have to go through eye-scan each time they enter the UAE and there is a designated counter for this purpose at border control,” said Brigadier Talal Al Shanaqeti, general director of Airport Passport Affairs Sector at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) Dubai.
“Foreigners having a residence visa in the UAE do not need to undergo this process at border control, as their biometric data has already been taken and stored on the UAE’s official database as part of the Emirates ID application process.”
The new passport control system will compare the iris patterns of all arriving passengers in real-time against an enrolled central database, helping authorities identify people who have been banned from entering the UAE and take appropriate legal action against them, he told WAM.
The iris scan will ensure that people cannot enter the UAE with new identities using forged travel documents, Al Shanaqeti explained.
“The new system will help visitors save their time while arriving at Dubai Airports, as they will not spend time for eye-scan as an additional procedure. It will be done while they are walking through the passport control counter.”
The new advanced cameras for automatic registration are currently being installed at Terminal 3 – Arrivals in Dubai International Airport.
“We will soon install the new cameras in the other terminals,” he added.
Currently, four terminals operated by Dubai Airports have 122 smart gates in operation, which allow passengers to scan their travel documents and complete the passport control procedures within 9 to 15 seconds, added Noora Salim Al Mazrouei, director of Future Borders Department at the GDRFA Dubai.
Emiratis, GCC nationals, UAE residents, and visitors who get a visa-on-arrival are eligible to use the smart gates.
“At the moment, visitors who are eligible for visa-on-arrival have an option to register their biometric passports at the passport control counter and use Smart Gates that facilitate fast-track clearance,” she told WAM.
Also in its trial phase is a Smart Tunnel at terminal 3 [departures], where passengers have to simply walk through the tunnel without showing or scanning the travel document, reducing the passport control procedure to under 10 seconds, Al Mazrouei said.
While the Smart Tunnel is only open to business and first class passengers at this stage, it will be expanded to other classes in future.