UAE: More than 21 million travellers used biometric access at Dubai airports in 2023

There are 127 smart gates distributed across all terminal buildings
Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA Dubai) on Monday revealed that more than 21 million passengers used biometric recognition for seamless travel through Dubai Airports in 2023.

Get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

These smart means include technology to read their fingerprint and “faceprint” (facial recognition) for access through unmanned passport control and immigration. This contributed to reducing the time spent on the traveller’s journey and increasing the efficiency and speed of passenger movement in the immigration area.

Major General Talal Al Shanqeeti, Assistant Director-General of the Air Ports Sector at GDRFA Dubai, said: “The use of electronic gates at Dubai International Airport began in 2002, as it relied mainly on the e-gate card. In 2017, we switched to smart gates, which used to operate on the passport document, the Emirates ID, and the electronic gate card, in addition to the eye scan.

Eyeglasses have to be taken off for the scan
Image Credit: Supplied

After the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures that were taken at airports in Dubai and the world, all documents on the smart portal have been dispensed with, switching to activating the proactive service for smooth travel on the smart portals.”

Gradual rise

Regarding the number of smart gates used at Dubai Airports, Maj Gen Al Shanqeeti pointed out that there are 127 gates distributed across all terminal buildings (1, 2, 3 and Al Maktoum). Since 2017, the number of travellers using smart gates and biometric recognition increased from 5,688,092 passengers to reach its peak in 2023, where it recorded 21,169,506 passengers.

Maj Gen Al Shanqeeti pointed out that one of the most prominent challenges was the use of the Emirati identity, as any contact process was stopped during the pandemic period, which contributed to the development and improvement of the process through the “Seamless” smart gates, by identifying the biometric fingerprint without any documents.

Major General Al Shanqeeti explained that to ensure an increase in the percentage of smart gate users, modern cameras were operated on all entry and exit platforms in 2018-2019 to record biometric data for all travellers. The improvement contributed to significantly increasing the percentage of portal users from 5.5 million in 2017 to 13.4 million in 2022, which is around three times the number.

The smart gates logo was also added for visa holders and pre-registered passengers, to facilitate the process of guiding them to use the service and to ensure that the traveller stands in the specified location within the smart gate to ensure speedy completion and ease of capturing the biometric fingerprint, as cooperation was made with Dubai Airports to provide explanatory posters for clarifying the traveller’s location in the specified place.

Maj Gen Al Shanqeeti said an improvement was made with the Emirates Airlines to add a “smart gate” note to the boarding pass to improve the mechanism for directing travellers by Dubai Airports employees when they arrive at the immigration hall to use the service. The employees of the Dubai Airports, using “May I Help You”, were also trained on the improvements, in addition to modifying the informational and electronic signs at the airport to educate travellers before they arrive at the immigration area.

98 per cent customer happiness

Regarding the extent of customer satisfaction with the smart gate service, the Assistant Director General of the Air Ports Sector explained that 50 per cent of travellers used smart gates (without the use of documents) until the end of the 2023, leading to raising the customer happiness rate to 98 per cent. Maj Gen Al Shanqeeti also explained that smart gates are available to families.

He pointed out that more than 20 delegations (local and international) were received to learn about the best practices of the innovative services provided in the passport hall, including smart gates.