Dubai wants '100% virtual border' at airports

Official says balance required between airport efficiency and tight security
By Sarah Townsend
Sun 08 Oct 2017 05:43 PM

Dubai is aiming to have an 100 percent “virtual border” at its airports in the coming years, according to a government official.

The UAE has already pioneered the ‘e-gate’ system across airports to streamline border control processes and reduce waiting times for in- and outbound passengers.

However, Major General Obaid Mehayer bin Suroor Alhameeri, deputy director-general of Dubai’s Directorate General for Residency & Foreign Affairs, told a conference on Monday that the emirate was seeking “a 100 percent virtual border where human contact is absent”.

Alhameeri noted Dubai’s airport capacity is expected to reach over 124 million passengers at Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Al Maktoum International (DWC) by 2020, and that this “continuous expansion would create huge crowds and queues particularly at peak hours”.

“We need to find alternative ways to handle border security procedures where speedier transactions are a priority,” he told delegates at Emirates Group Security’s aviation security summit in Dubai.

This requires a balance between “security, speed and quality of service”, that goes beyond traditional manual passport control procedure, he added.

Dubai’s automated pre-clearance service trialled at Emirates’ Terminal 3 has gone a significant way towards alleviating the burden on airport staff, Alhameeri said, and has reduced waiting times for passengers to five seconds, from 15 previously.

In the coming years, this facility will be available in other terminals at DXB and DWC, and there remains a strong impetus to create a virtual border in time, he added.

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