Abu Dhabi: All Gulf Cooperation Council nationals travelling within the regional bloc will be able to avail faster clearances at entry and exit points across the Gulf region in the near future once their national ID cards are suitably upgraded.
GCC nations are working on a project to enable their national ID cards to be used as e-Gate cards at entry and exit points throughout the GCC, a top official told Gulf News in an interview on Tuesday.
The e-Gate card provides a fast-track immigration clearance using smart technology. This not only takes one through immigration faster but also saves space on a passenger’s passport as it eliminates the need for a manual stamp before every journey outside the country.
“The work is in progress and once it is completed all GCC nationals including Emiratis can save a lot of time while travelling throughout the GCC,” said Dr Ali Al Khoury, director general of Emirates Identity Authority, who is also a member of the GCC Identity Card Steering Committee.
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE constitute the GCC.
GCC nationals carrying their national ID cards can now travel throughout the GCC without passports but currently have to pass through the manned emigration/ immigration counters at the border check points, the official said.
Since the UAE integrated e-Gate cards with national ID cards, Emiratis carrying national ID cards have been exiting the UAE border points through e-Gates without the need for passports, he said.
However UAE nationals cannot use e-Gates installed in neighbouring countries without an e-Gate card issued by the respective countries, Al Khoury said. “So they have been crossing through the manned counters at other GCC nations although they do not need to carry the passport [as their national ID card is enough to travel in the GCC].”
This means that UAE ID card holders can avoid manned emigration counters while leaving the country but cannot do so while entering another GCC country. The official said the situation will change when GCC nations complete the project to enable their national ID cards to be used at e-Gates installed across the GCC.
Expatriates in the UAE can also integrate the e-Gate facility on their national ID cards and exit the UAE through e-Gates at border points, Al Khoury said. Expatriates will, however, have to produce their passports to enter any other country in the GCC whereas Emiratis carrying national ID cards do not need a passport in GCC countries.
Asked whether expatriates will also be able to travel without passports in the GCC, the official said it would take time for such a system to be implemented.