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


Travellers in and out of Dubai will no longer need to present their passports for identity authentication with the process replaced by a facial recognition scanner.

On Monday, the emirate’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs launched a fast-track passport control service that 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 in up to nine seconds, depending on the movement and steps of the individual. To use it, passengers must pre-register.

The service, which uses advanced artificial intelligence, can be used by outbound passengers after they check in for their flight.

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

Unlike 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 the airport since October, when Emirates launched its own system that aimed to create a contact-free travel journey.

The Dubai airline claimed its biometric “path” would help cut down on queues, as passengers will need to 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, Prime Minister 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.

Published: February 22, 2021 10:28 PM