Officials from the United States Department of Homeland Security recently signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to establish a preclearance facility in Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), its first in the Arab world.
This program, like the 15 others the US has around the globe, is good for America.
It will enhance national security, boost the American economy, and provide US-bound travelers with reduced lines, delays, and inconveniences on their journey.
This program with one of America’s closest partners in the Middle East is poised to service a growing transit hub for international passengers as business and tourist travel from the Middle East, Africa, and India increases with the US.
Government and airport authorities in Abu Dhabi welcome the facility and have made it clear to US airlines that they are welcome to fly to and from Abu Dhabi’s International Airport to tap into this new preclearance program.
Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways flies directly from AUH to three major US markets and boasts an active code-share agreement with American Airlines.
In addition to providing economic benefit to American Airlines, this code-share allows passengers to access the carrier’s domestic flights that service some 90 destinations around the US.
As frequent travelers and stakeholders in the US-UAE relationship, we understand why the U.S. government is keen to launch this initiative in Abu Dhabi:
The program will enhance US security: A program fully-staffed by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), the new preclearance facility in the UAE will serve to improve security and will reduce transit time and security concerns for global travelers wishing to enter the US through busy American airports.
The CBP already operates 15 preclearance facilities in Canada, Ireland, and the Caribbean for these reasons.
With increased travel through geocentric transit hubs like the UAE, a 16th facility in Abu Dhabi — the country’s capital — is a very logical choice.
The Abu Dhabi facility will effectively allow all CBP-cleared passengers to complete US customs and immigration before boarding their inbound flight to the US.
Upon arrival, these travelers will benefit from proceeding to their final destination seamlessly.
American travelers will benefit from a significant reduction in passenger wait times and the costs associated with additional security procedures currently performed at US airports.
CBP will apply the same rigorous standards in Abu Dhabi that it applies at US airports, but will do so before any passenger that might pose a risk boards their flight.