Saud Ahmad Abu Al Malih showcases the drones at the Dubai World Trade Center Image Credit: Noorhan Barakat

Dubai: The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai is joining the global drone trend to speed up delivery of documents.

Roughly a month ago, the directorate employed the use of a drone — an unmanned aerial vehicle — to deliver urgent in-house documents, between its Bur Dubai and Deira branches within two minutes.

Saud Ahmad Abu Al Malih, who is an employee at the directorate, came up with the idea of using drones to transport documents. He is also responsible for developing and operating the idea.

The idea was adopted and funded by the directorate on orders from Maj Gen Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, Director-General of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs in Dubai.

For Al Malih, drones were a hobby he enjoyed outside work, but one day it occurred to him that it could be a useful tool for transporting documents.

Al Malih, who was showcasing the drones at the directorate’s stand at the Dubai World Trade Centre, said the drones save a lot of time.

“Instead of a driver taking the documents and driving all the way to the other branch and through the busy Al Shindagha tunnel, the drone does it in two minutes.”

He said the trip can take between one and a half hours to three hours by car during rush hour or in case of an accident.

“In the beginning we faced problems because the drone was not waterproof and, as it crosses the Creek, we wanted to ensure that it does not get damaged if it falls in the water, Al Malih said.

He explained that they contacted the company that makes the drones and asked them to create a casing that would protect it.

“The new model can land on the surface of the water and fly again with no damage… the box where the documents are placed is still being manufactured.”

Al Malih said the directorate is considering the use of drones to deliver finished documents to its customers, but there is no date specified for when this will happen. “This is a very big project and we are still studying it.”

The current available model has a range of 2km between the remote control and the drone.

He added that they have an iPad programme that can program the drone to fly to certain map coordinates and back, but they are not using it yet.

“This model can fly as far as 6km if programmed.”