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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 26 February 2021

Dubai begins facial recognition passport control service at airport for all travellers

New biometric systems deployed at 122 smart gates at arrival and departure terminals in Dubai airports

Facial recognition technology is being implemented at Dubai airports, allowing passengers to complete passport control in nine seconds. Courtesy: Dubai Media Office
Facial recognition technology is being implemented at Dubai airports, allowing passengers to complete passport control in nine seconds. Courtesy: Dubai Media Office

Air travellers in and out of Dubai will no longer need to present their passports for identity authentication, with the process replaced by facial recognition scanners.

On Monday, the emirate's General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs launched a fast-track passport control service.

This uses face and iris-recognition technology at 122 smart gates at arrival and departure terminals in Dubai airports.

These will allow passengers to complete passport control procedures within nine seconds, officials said.

Passengers must pre-register to use the service.

The facial recognition service, which uses artificial intelligence, is available to outbound passengers after they check in for their flight.

Maj Gen Mohammed Al Marri, director general of the GDRFA, said biometric systems and artificial intelligence were being used to improve efficiency and enhance the travel experience.

Unlike the existing e-gate – which can only be used by UAE residents or Emiratis – this new service is open to all travellers, provided they register in advance.

Biometric checks have been in use at Dubai International Airport since October, when Emirates launched its own system that aimed to create contact-free travel.

The Dubai airline claimed its biometric "path" would reduce queuing time, as passengers undergo fewer document checks.

The touchpoints are open to Emirates passengers travelling from and through Dubai, and allow travellers to check in without having to come face-to-face with airline staff.

Monday's announcement came weeks after the UAE Cabinet approved a trial of facial recognition technology within the Ministry of Interior.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said facial recognition would be used in "some private sector services to verify the personal identity of individuals instead of submitting a lot of documents".

If the trial is successful, facial ID will be introduced more widely, he said.

Updated: February 23, 2021 10:05 AM

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