Saudi Arabia has moved closer to introducing biometric centres to help clamp down on fake visas and foreigners banned from entering the kingdom.
The Foreign Ministry said it had signed contracts with international companies to set up biometric centers in the UAE, South Korea and Germany to provide visa services to prospective visitors, including pilgrims.
The first centre, in the UAE, would be opened by the end of the month, Assistant Foreign Minister Prince Khaled bin Saud said.
The government announced in November it would introduce facilities to take fingerprints and other biometrics of visitors.
Prince Khaled said the new system would help speed up entry procedures, particularly during Hajj and Umrah when millions of pilgrims flock to the country.
“It will also enable authorities to know those foreigners who have been banned from entering the Kingdom before issuing new visas as well as to identify fake visa applicants,” he said.
The biometrics system also would speed up identification of visitors in the event of death or an accident.
Countries such as the US already have similar systems in place.