Dubai conference to explore future of global air travel

Industry experts will discuss efforts to meet growing demand for air travel

A traveller uses Dubai International Airport's smart gates system. Photo: Dubai Airports
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The Global Conference for Shaping Future Policies of Ports, taking place next week at Dubai's Madinat Jumeirah, will focus on the evolution of international air travel, bringing together airline representatives and industry experts.

Maj Gen Obaid bin Suroor, deputy director of Dubai's General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, said the two-day event will focus on challenges facing the travel sector and will explore ways to harness artificial technology to boost efficiency amid a growing appetite for travel.

The conference will begin next Tuesday.

The number of airport passengers is forecast to more than double from 9.2 billion in 2019 to 19 billion by 2040, a 2022 report by the Airports Council International stated.

“Amid expectations to have more than 19 billion travellers around the globe by 2040, we need to discuss new policies and ideas to cope with the rapid increase of travellers,” said Maj Gen bin Suroor at a press conference on Tuesday.

“The conference will be a good opportunity to exchange ideas, practices and the role of AI in the future of travelling.”

Dubai Airports said it served 41.6 million travellers in the first half of 2023 – a 49 per cent increase on the 27.9 million recorded in the same period in 2022 – fuelled by a 43 per cent surge in second-quarter passenger traffic.

Delegates will also discuss the increasing digitisation of the sector, including an increasing use of e-documents at airports.

Earlier this year, Emirates announced it was phasing out paper boarding passes for most passengers departing from its Dubai hub in a move to boost sustainability.

Passengers checking in at Terminal 3, where the airline is based, are required to use mobile boarding passes, which they can receive through email or SMS, from May 15.

Major Gen Obaid bin Suroor, deputy director of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, speaks at a Dubai press conference. Photo: GDRFA

Those who check in online can add their boarding passes to their Apple Wallet or Google Wallet accounts, or they can retrieve it on the Emirates app.

Meanwhile, nine million people passed through the airport's smart gates in the first six months of this year.

The fast-track “biometric passenger journey” uses face and iris-recognition technology to let travellers pass through passport control in seconds.

Lt Gen Mohammed Al Marri, director general of the GDRFA, previously told The National that nine million people passed through the smart gates in the first six months of this year.

“Passengers are more willing to share their biometric data to cross the borders and this will help to have smart ports and ease the passenger journey,” said Maj Gen bin Suroor.

He said plans needed to be put in place to cope with a growing number of passengers, with limited scope to increase the number of airports.

Meanwhile, the Dubai press conference heard that numbers of residency permits and golden visas issued surged in the first half of 2023, compared to the same period in 2022.

The amount of residency permits approved jumped 63 per cent, with golden visas up 52 per cent, the GDRFA said.

No further details were disclosed.

The authority said in November that 151,666 golden visas had been issued since the launch of the initiative in 2019.

The renewable 10-year residency scheme aims to give exceptional workers and foreign investors the opportunity to establish deeper roots in the country and allow the nation to benefit from their expertise.

Updated: September 12, 2023, 2:20 PM