Image Credit: GDRFA

Dubai: A new passenger pre-approval system that vets air travellers 48 hours before they fly is dramatically speeding up passport control checks at all Dubai Airports, Gulf News has learnt.

Clearing passport control will take as little as 10 seconds instead of minutes waiting for passport clearance thanks to the system developed by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai.

A high-ranking official at the GDRFA told Gulf News that by the end of the year, the system will be fully operational in all Dubai Airports at the arrival and departure terminals.

Brigadier Talal Ahmad Al Shanqeti, general director assistant of Airport Immigration Department at GDRFA-Dubai, said the ‘Next Generation Borders’ system collects details of passengers 48 hours before they board an aircraft.

The system starts to collect the data when a passenger buys an airline ticket.

“We had an agreement with Emirates airlines to update the system with passengers’ details 48 hours before the flight. The system makes necessary checks on passengers to issue clearance and send the details to the passport control officer who will need only 10 seconds to stamp the passport rather than three minutes in the past,” Brigadier Al Shanqeti told Gulf News.

The system has already been fully implemented at Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport while Terminal 1, 2 and Al Maktoum International Airport are expected to be 100 per cent ready by end of the year.

“We have 65 employees working in a command room to check the passengers’ details and send clearance to the passport control officer so he only needs to identify the passenger in front of him before stamping his passport. The system works on arrival and departures.”

The passport officer in the past used to take longer time to identify passengers in situations where a name was similar to someone on watch list but the new system will reduce waiting time because the passenger had already been securely identified.

“In the past the officer used to take a minute or more to clear a passenger but the new system helps the officer to clear four passengers in a minute,” Brigadier Al Shanqeti added.

He said that even if the passenger makes a last minute booking, his details will be in the system an hour before the flight timing.

“There has been an increase of seven to nine per cent in number of passengers travelling through Dubai airport and the new system will help decrease clearance time for passengers and make them happy,” he said.

The GDRFA Dubai has 1,600 passport control officers working round the clock. “In Dubai, a passport control officer clears 55,000 passengers per year on an average while globally the ratio is 17,000 passengers. With the new system in place, better results will be achieved.”

Brigadier Al Shanqeti praised the officers’ work at a ceremony held to recognise their efforts.

Last year, an officer topped the list for clearing 133,000 passengers in a year.