Cruise passengers can replace passport with a selfie at Dubai passport control

A lot of the announcements and new developments coming out of Dubai often sound like the futuristic imaginings of Arthur C. Clark – from automated passenger drones doing sightseeing trips from Dubai Cruise Terminal to the new Dubai Harbour Project.

However, this latest announcement from Emirates and Dubai Airports takes the biscuit.

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Middle East cruise passengers flying out of Dubai to the major cruise markets of Europe and the Caribbean will be able to make use of new biometric technology and new automated border control gates at Terminal 3 from next year onwards.

Two key new initiatives have been announced that will streamline the check-in and immigration checks at departure.

The first is a facial recognition solution integrated with the ‘UAE Wallet’. Travellers will be able to register and store their biometric data through multiple means including by taking a selfie on their mobile phones, as well as using biometric registration kiosks placed at check-in areas and Emirates Lounges.

They can then utilise this biometric data to ease their journey through immigration at T3 Departures, and later, other touch-points throughout DXB airport, including automated access to Emirates’ First and Business Class lounges.

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The second is a set of new generation smart immigration gates that will be installed at T3 Departures, supplementing the existing e-gates, and manned immigration counters.

These new smart gates offer an automated border control system that utilises travellers’ biometrics. 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.

These are the first projects signed off by the joint team currently reviewing all ‘traveller touch points’ at Dubai International airport, with the aim of enhancing the overall customer experience.

The team involves Emirates airline, Dubai Customs, Dubai General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, GDRFA, Dubai Police and Dubai Airports, all of which are looking for ways to make the experience of flying in and out of Dubai International faster and more pleasant.

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“In line with the government’s vision to be a world leader in providing public services, we have been evaluating the use of biometrics to enhance traveller flow through immigration,” said Major General Mohammed Ahmed Almarri, Dubai General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, GDFRA. “We are pleased to roll-out these new initiatives at Terminal 3 Departures in collaboration with Emirates and our airport stakeholders.”

According to Dubai Cruise Tourism more than 100,000 UAE nationals fly out of Dubai each year to take a cruise, with more than 80% of them cruising in Europe during the summer months.

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