Cash, clothing and shoes: welcome to Expo 2020 Dubai's lost and found box

A woman’s purse containing Dh14,750 was among the items retrieved by officers

Visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai hope to collect memories that will last a lifetime.

But some may have left with less than they brought, if the items stored by Expo's lost and found department are anything to go by.

Credit cards, cash, documents, clothing and electronics have all been misplaced or left behind by visitors, but there is hope that such items will be returned.

Her husband answered and both were surprised when we asked if she had lost anything
Brig Jamal Salem Al Jallaf, Dubai Police

Sharp-eyed police in Dubai are on a mission to ensure no day out at the world's fair is spoiled, with officers recovering thousands of items lost by the bumper crowds that pack the sprawling site each day.

During the first month of the global extravaganza, 5,891 belongings were found scattered around the site.

They included a purse containing Dh14,750 ($4,016) and another with Dh7,800 in cash.

Police get smart to track lost belongings

The items are carefully catalogued as part of a smart programme first introduced by police last March and that has proved invaluable at the six-month event.

Several Expo personnel are given access to the system to log the recovered objects and, whenever possible, return them to their rightful owners.

“Between members of the Expo staff and employees from our department, we have a team of around 250 people dealing with found items,” said Brig Jamal Salem Al Jallaf, director of Dubai Police's criminal investigation team.

Once items are logged by Expo staff, department employees aim to identify and contact the owners within 20 minutes.

“We have different types of items in the system, most of which, although simple, can be of value to their owners,” said Brig Al Jallaf.

A woman’s purse containing Dh14,750 was added to the Smart Found Items Programme after it was found by an Emirati visitor, who was rewarded for his honesty.

The woman’s phone number was obtained and police gave her a call.

“Her husband answered and both were surprised when we asked if she had lost anything,” Brig Al Jallaf said.

“She only discovered she lost her purse after we called her, and the couple were on the way back to Abu Dhabi after they visited Expo.”

The woman was greatly relieved and later returned to pick up the cash.

“The majority of people do not realise they lost something until we get in touch,” said Col Abdullah Al Shamsi, director of the lost-and-found department.

People can either head back to Expo site to collect their belongings or ask for them to be delivered to their homes.

Helping the public for decades

The lost-and-found department was first set up in the 1980s and has been expanded over the years, providing a vital service to the public.

As technology evolved, so has the unit to ensure it has the latest cutting-edge tools at its disposal to ensure hope is never lost.

Since the system was launched, 542,000 objects have been recorded, including 46,951 pieces of jewellery, 19,607 mobile phones, 8,149 wallets, and 20,800 watches.

The Smart Found Items Programme is also in use at businesses, hotels, shopping centres, hospitals, schools, airports and public parks in the emirate.

Authorised staff at these establishments can log in to the programme and register any items that were found on their premises.

Issue of integrity

“Regardless of the item’s value, it's a must it is registered on the system. We have items that are probably worth a few dirhams,” said Col Al Shamsi.

“It's about integrity rather than value.”

Objects are saved under nearly 20 different headings, including cash, official documents, electronics, jewellery, mobile phones, and even pets and plants.

The initiative helps both residents and tourists.

“A tourist from Belgium contacted us after he forgot his camera at a hotel in Dubai and we shipped it to him,” he said.

“On Friday, October 29, a British tourist flying back to the UK that same day at 10pm, reported his passport missing at 4pm.”

It was found and added to the system by hotel personnel.

“He said he couldn’t come pick it up so we delivered it to him at the airport before the time of his flight," he said.

Items that are not claimed are stored in the department’s warehouses for 15 years.

“When people claim an item, we of course ensure they are in fact the owners before we hand them over,” said Col Al Shamsi.

Updated: November 15th 2021, 7:25 AM