Dubai: Come September, say goodbye to long queues for passengers arriving at or departing from Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport.
Travellers will no longer need to stop at passport control for the most part thanks to new-generation smart gates being installed in the weeks ahead at one of the world’s busiest airports, said authorities.
Twenty-five new-generation smart gates will negate the need for personal encounters with passport control officers thanks to new face-recognition software that will clear travellers who present approved biometric, electronic passports or identification to walk straight to the baggage claim area after deplaning.
With an increase every year in passengers using Dubai’s air hub every year, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) is installing the new gates in Terminals 1,2,3 as well as at Maktoum International Airport, to be completed by the first quarter of 2018.
“The new generation of the smart gates will replace all the current gates by first quarter of 2018. For the moment, we will have 25 smart gates at the departure hall in Terminal 3 by beginning of September. It is the face of the future for the first time in the world — passengers will cross the gates smoothly and there will be no need to stand in queues to get the passport stamped,” Brigadier Talal Ahmad Al Shanqeti, General Director Assistant of Airport Passport Sector in GDRFA-Dubai told Gulf News.
Fifteen of the new smart gates are for economy class travellers while the remaining are for business and first-class passengers.
Dubai is always looking for new ideas that have never been implemented before in the world. Dubai Airport is number one in the world and the new smart gates are unique.”
- Major Khalid Al Felasi, Assistant General Director of Smart Services in GDRFA-Dubai
The smart gates ensure that each traveller will only spend 9 to 20 seconds to pass through.
At the moment, about 20 per cent of travellers use smart gates in Dubai and GDRFA aims to step that up to 50 per cent [of travellers] in the near future, he added.
“Emiratis and residents [comprise] 45 per cent of the travellers in Dubai. Our target is to have people cross the smart gates in an easy and fast way,” Brig. Al Shanqeti said.
The biometric tunnels that scan people’s faces as they walk to baggage reclaim will be white in colour and a light will come on when the passenger goes through them.
The “biometric border” walkway takes a 3D scan of people’s faces as they enter the airport and checks it against a digital passport using face-recognition software.
“Travellers can walk through the smart gates by either using their biometric passports or Emirati ID. Since we activated the use of Emirati ID to cross the gates on July 2016, around 555,857 travellers have used them,” he said.
The digital passport, created for the system, contains information from the electronic chip in physical passports, as well as additional details including fingerprints, iris scans and face-recognition data.
Major Khalid Al Felasi, Assistant General Director of Smart Services in GDRFA-Dubai, told Gulf News that the new gates represent a new era for passengers.
“Dubai is always looking for new ideas that have never been implemented before in the world. Dubai Airport is number one in the world and the new smart gates are unique. A traveller’s face will be scanned so when he returns, [through facial recognition], the gates will open without the need to take fingerprints or examine the passport. This is the future,” Maj Al Felasi said.
He said the gates will be installed at T3 Departures to supplement the existing e-gates, and manned immigration counters.
“It will also enable travellers to forgo the additional step of getting their passports and boarding passes manually checked by a security officer before they go through immigration, as these checks will be automatically integrated within the biometric validation as travellers pass through the new smart gates,” Major Al Felasi added.
Children under 15 will not be able to avail of the new smart gates. An officer will attend to their procedures at the normal gates.
First six months of 2017
Dubai International Airport
E-Gates: 851,668 travellers
Smart Gates: 1.76 million travellers
Total travellers using both gates: 2.6 million
7.1 million travellers used the gates
555,857 travellers used their Emiratis ID to cross the gates
42,810 people download the app
30,400 on iPhone
12,410 on Android
Last month, Dubai announced that passengers departing from Dubai International Airport can now use their smart phones at the smart gates instead of their passports as part of a new service called Smart UAE Wallet.
The new facility is expected to reduce departure clearance time to 15 seconds per passenger.
The UAE Wallet app can be used in Terminal 3. It will be operational in all terminals after the wallet is linked with other airlines.
“Your smartphone is your passport now, this will simplify the travellers’ journey and make it a joyful experience,” Brigadier Al Shanqeti said.
Users can register to UAE wallet any time before their travel day. After registering, users can present required travel machine-readable bar codes generated within UAE Wallet app to access airport gates.
Registered users can also view information of passport, residence visa, Emiratis ID documents belonging to them and their dependents. This includes the ability to check documents validity.
The service support seamless integration among different entities during the execution of a government services. The UAE Wallet helps smart transformation in Dubai, including the materialisation of zero-paper strategy declared earlier in Dubai.
The GDRFA announced that 42,810 people have registered for the new service, 30,400 downloaded the app for iPhone and 12,410 on Android.
Officials in GDRFA Dubai said that the app will be available to all UAE citizens and residents in August.
“We launched the UAE Wallet in line with the UAE vision 2021 and the directions of the wise leadership to avail easy and fast government services to all customers,” Brig Al Shanqeti said.
The UAE Wallet project delivers an electronic repository for UAE nationals and residents. It stores personal official documents including scanned and electronic copies of identity documents, passport copy, personal photo of customers and their dependents.
The GDRFA Dubai said the goal of the project is increasing happiness of people by offering excellent and fast naturalisation, residence and ports services.