E-gates to be set up in anticipation of a flood of 90 million in 2 years

Anticipating a flood of around 90 million visitors in another two years, the Dubai immigration authorities are adopting bold technology-intensive measures to successfully manage the rush.

In a recent interaction with the media, Khalid Nasser Al Razooqi, Director-General of the Immigration Department's e-services sector, said a pilot project to establish “smart electronic gates” at the airport was being undertaken on a war footing. “Once it is validated, the e-gate will enable a passenger to clear immigration in 14 seconds flat,” he claimed. Officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said a sharp escalation in passenger inflow was expected once a dedicated terminal for the giant A380 aircraft was completed in 2013.

Mohammad Ahmad Al Hammadi, a senior officer at the immigration department, hoped that visitors from India would continue to provide a large chunk of the overseas visitors.

Col. Razooqi explained that the smart e-gate would have a passport reader, which would instantly check from the existing database on whether the entry of the passenger was legal. A pre-installed camera will verify the passenger's identity by matching his image against the photograph on the passport. The new e-gates will have an advanced automated facility to capture iris scans, to ensure that individuals who have already been blacklisted are unable to enter the country. “We hope to provide the smart e-gate service by next year,” Col. Razooqi said.

Officials observed that the Immigration Department had established an integrated interface with the departments of labour, health and police to improve the efficiency of issuing and renewing visas. With the electronic pool of necessary information available, Dubai immigration has begun to automate issue and renewal of visas.

Amer Service

Under the initiative called Amer Service, kiosks have been established in seven Dubai locations, which provide a variety of services. “The kiosk is like an ATM machine where people can quickly attend to their task without having to join lengthy queues,” an official said. These kiosks can electronically respond to inquiries regarding residence and visit visas. In case the necessary legal requirements are fulfilled, the machine can instantaneously print the required visa, without any human interface.

“When we began the Amer service, it was with the motto that nothing is impossible. If there is a question, then it is bound to have an answer,” said Mohammed Ahmed Al-Marri, Director-General of the General Directorate of Residence and Foreign Affairs. Gen. Al-Marri pointed out that under an outreach programme of the Amer Service, a fully equipped vehicle, in response to a telephonic request on a toll-free number, could visit individuals and companies requesting visa services. The head of the Immigration Department pointed to another novel initiative which began last year of releasing visas on mobile phones. These visas are delivered in the form of an SMS and are suitably bar-coded to provide a high degree of security.