20210824 dubai airport
Dubai International already has smart gates and biometric check-ins. Will selfies be next? Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: An airport without barriers? This vision could soon be reality as a Portugal-based tech firm works with Dubai’s aviation entities to make it happen.

Vision-Box, which previously helped set up smart gates and biometric systems at Dubai International Airport (DXB), is in talks to radically change the face of one of the world’s busiest airports. “In the future, the mobility of the passenger - and the technology provided to automate the passenger movement - is part of the airport design,” said Osama Nawayseh, Middle East Sales Manager at Vision-Box.

It also involves an airport without check-in or security checks. “There are no barriers, there are no doors - you simply walk to the departure gates and just go to the aircraft,” said Nawayseh. “It saves time (and) instead of expanding your airport, you just maintain the same space you have.

“This is (part of) a brainstorming discussion that we are having with different authorities such as Dubai Immigration, Emirates airline and Dubai Airports.”

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Creative use of space

According to Nawayseh, it is a win-win situation for passengers and aviation bodies. “The passenger journey will be positively impacted by implementing a technology that will return the benefits to all stakeholders,” said the executive.

For one, it will be easier for the government to maintain security and implement new measures. With technology considerably reducing the time taken to board, airlines will be departing and arriving on time.

Airports could be the biggest beneficiaries. The spaces currently dedicated to boarding formalities could be cleared and rented to retailers for revenue generation, said Nawayseh. “We, together with our partners in the region, develop the use case and then we develop the technology around it”


In 2020, Emirates airline rolled out a facility called a ‘biometric path’, which utilizes facial and iris recognition to allow passengers to check in and complete all formalities by simply strolling through the airport. Vision Box is working with the airline to further enhance the check-in experience - Just take a selfie at home before heading to the airport.

The system will revolve around selfie-based identity verification. Using an airlines’ mobile app, travellers will be able to register ahead of their flight by uploading a face image and other documents.

"The new technology will include using a mobile or selfie-registration, so you start the process from home," said Nawayseh. "When you arrive at the airport, you just drop the bag and then you proceed with your journey to the remaining touch points like border control or business lounge."

This makes it easier for passengers to arrive at the airport and use the touch points without the need to stop at the check-in counter. We are in discussion with Emirates and other airlines in the region to implement this technology.

- Osama Nawayseh, Middle East sales manager at Vision-Box

Digital health passports

The pandemic has led to several digital health pass initiatives, the most popular being IATA’s ‘Travel Pass.’ It allows passengers to have a digital passport verified with all their pre-travel test or vaccination details to meet the requirements at the end destination. They are also able to share test and vaccination certificates with authorities and airlines to facilitate smoother processing at airports.

“We are still in discussions to integrate the health data with the platform that we have – this is an identity management platform that contains not just the biometric, but also demographic data,” said Nawayseh.

With permission from the different stakeholders, Vision-Box can integrate the health records into the ‘passenger data envelope’. “The moment passengers arrive at the airport, authorities will be able to link the biometric with the data and health record - this can be checked once at the touch point without the need for an agent to check it,” said Nawayseh. “There has been no discussion on this yet, but it’s doable.”