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Wed 23 Jul 2008 11:42 AM

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Iris scan for all residents in identity database push

EXCLUSIVE: UAE rolling out system across country, to be part of visa application process.

Every resident in the United Arab Emirates will have their iris scanned over the next few years as the government looks to build up a comprehensive national identity database, Arabian Business can reveal.

The technology is currently being rolled out across the country and within a year that applies for a residency visa will be required to have their eyes scanned, an executive at the company implementing the system said in an interview.

Hussan Zakaria, UAE country manager for IrisGuard, said the system is being installed in health centres and will form part of the visa application process, along with the standard medical tests for infectious diseases.

Zakaria said project is designed to increase safety and security, but has other applications in areas that relate to personal identification.

He said currently the technology is operational up to 15 state-run health centres across the UAE.

He said the technology was similar to that already in use at all points of entry into the UAE.

Iris Expellee Tracking System is used to stop people that have been deported from the UAE re-entering with fake documents.

All foreigners entering the UAE on a new visit or work visa are required to have their iris scanned.

Zakaria said that, contrary to recent press reports, the border system has been operational since 2003. Press reports had said the system was in the process of being rolled out.

Zakaria said that as of May the system has caught 250,000 people trying to re-enter the UAE.

He said IrisGuard is currently in talks with other Gulf states about implementing the system, but has not signed any deals yet.

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