Dubai’s International Airport is one of the world’s busiest, with some 90 million passengers due to travel through it in the course of this year. Indeed, in the first half of the year alone, nearly 44 million people passed through it. As such, the airport has never been short of innovative ideas and ground-breaking approaches to cater to travellers. Similarly, the UAE as a whole, along with the Government of Dubai, has always adopted a similar proactive approach, looking to utilise new technologies and seeking out ways of doing things more efficiently. And now, both have begun a new era that provides the airport with a significant world first.

On trial right now, a new smart gate system uses intelligent technologies and facial recognition software to enable passengers to pass through passport controls by simply walking through a smart tunnel. Here, as long as passport details are already registered with officials and there’s at least six months left on the passport’s validity, travellers simply walk through.

Instantaneously, biometric details are scanned and matched with the details on file.

Obviously, this innovation removes the need for regular travellers to interact with passport control officers. Those officers are now freed to deal with more complicated cases or with travellers who require visas to be personally assigned and stamped, improving service and focusing on vigilance and oversight.

This new tunnel system will be rolled out more widely and will greatly enhance immigration and passport procedures at the airport. What’s more, by simply being able to walk through the tunnel, passengers will be able to get on their way much quicker from the airport.

But while there’s an obvious excitement at this new development, one key detail needs to be remembered. The technology and the portals were initiated and overseen by officials from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai, who have been working on the idea for the past four years. This made-in-Dubai innovation shows once more that officials at every level of government are determined to upgrade services in line with a goal of putting Dubai ten years ahead of other jurisdictions when it comes to adopting and using new technologies in everyday applications.

Right now, the smart tunnel is still in its pilot and trial phase and will not officially become fully operational until its formal launch in the near future. But once fully operational, it will be a boon to passengers who enter and exit the airport, saving time and making for an easier transition. And for tired passengers coming off long plane trips, could they ask for anything more?