Soon, first and business class travellers will not need passports to leave the country through Dubai International Airport.
On Wednesday, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai launched the pilot phase of Smart Tunnel at Dubai Airports Terminal 3 to enable Emirates passengers to finish passport control procedures in seconds.
All travellers have to do is simply walk through the tunnel and look at the camera, equipped with biometric recognition technology. Once cleared, passengers will be ready to leave the country without stopping to get their passports stamped, a process that takes seconds.
Major-General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, director general of GDRFA, said the project is in its trial phase until officially launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The tunnel, manufactured and made in UAE in coordination with Emaratech, works on biometric recognition technology and passengers can finish exit procedures without the need for human intervention.
“It is a non-stop exit, and the process depends on the walking speed of the passenger inside the tunnel,” said Al Marri.
He added that the project, considered the first of its kind in the world, was tested in the authority’s private lab before being introduced at the airport for on-ground experiment.
“We have been working on this idea for four years to ease people’s airport procedures until we found the right technology to implement it. So far, we are very happy with the trial’s results and we look forward to the official launch,” said Al Marri.
The tunnel will work hand in hand with the smart gates, equipped with latest face-recognition software, that allow residents to use their Emirates ID or registered passports to get through without encounters with passport control officers.
Noura Al Mazrouie, acting director of future borders department at airport sector, said smart gate users are automatically eligible to use the smart tunnel as their information is already registered.
However, passengers who haven’t used the smart gates will have to register their information at one of the two dedicated kiosks or the registration counter beside the passport control section. Another counter will soon be introduced before the tunnel.
Al Mazrouie added that passengers who currently use the tunnel need to get their passport verified after they walk through for now since the project is still in its testing phase.
“Travellers get their passports verified first time they walk through the tunnel since the project is still in its testing phase. They, however, do not need to do this step the second time they walk through the tunnel,” said Al Mazrouie.
“We have a passenger who passed the tunnel twice within three days this week. He was excited when he didn’t need to stop at all for passport control or verification,” she noted.
The project was launched in collaboration with Emirates, which is planning to introduce the project later on in the briefing area for their cabin crew.
Last August, over 3.8 million passengers passed through Dubai airports, a new record number that was recorded in a month. Over 600,000 people used the smart gates to get through passport control.
Meanwhile, Al Marri confirmed that more smart projects are ahead to be implemented to achieve fast and smart travelling experience, especially that the country expects to receive over 25 million visitors in six months during Expo 2020.
Steps to follow
The smart tunnel, launched for Emirates first and business class passengers at Dubai airport terminal 3, enables passengers a non-stop exit from the country.
Register your information at the counter or through the two registration kiosks placed before passport control section of Dubai Airports. Smart gates users are automatically eligible to use the tunnel. Once eligible and registered, passengers will receive a smart board on their boarding card. Approach the smart tunnel. As you walk through inside the tunnel, look at the camera, equipped with smart face-recognition technologies. Exit the tunnel. You will get your passport verified after you leave the tunnel. This is a temporary step since the project is still in the testing phase. Once cleared, you’re ready to leave the country without encounters with passport control officers.