Uptake of E-gate immigration cards "exceeds expectations"

More than 1,000 people have registered for the E-gate card, which allows speedy transit through Dubai International Airport, in the first month alone.

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By  David Cass Published  October 1, 2002

Dubai Airport’s revolutionary E-gate system is proving hugely popular among regular travellers anxious to avoid the queues at passport control on their way into and out of the UAE. More than 1,000 people have registered for the E-gate card in the first month alone. The immigration official in charge of the system, Col Khaled Lootah, says “This is beyond all our expectations. When you realise that this is a voluntary service it is remarkable that so many have signed up.”

Col Lootah says that, at the outset, he expected the business and diplomatic communities to show the greatest interest in the system, under which a passenger buys a credit card sized smart card imprinted with his photograph and fingerprints. After monitoring usage for the first month he says, “The users are coming from all walks of life. We are averaging around 150 registrations a day, every day.”

Among the public figures to be registered is the World Bank president James Wolfensen, who went through the screening process in Washington DC during the recent World Bank/IMF annual meeting. All World Bank officials expected to visit Dubai for next year’s annual meeting are likely to be issued with E-Gate cards as part of the security procedures being put in place for the Dubai 2003 event. The equipment was on display in Washington as part of the Dubai organising committee’s presentation of its preparedness to deal with security issues.

The two e-gates at the entry and exit points currently process one passenger every five seconds. This compares with around one minute if the job is done manually by an immigration officer. It has clearly made a dent in the waiting times at the manual immigration desks but Col Lootah expects that more gates will soon be needed.

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