More than 21 million travellers cleared passport control within minutes at Dubai airports in 2023, it was announced Monday. This is a 55 per cent increase compared to nearly 13.5 million passengers that used the gates in 2022.

According to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai, these travellers breezed through 127 smart gates at Dubai International (DXB) and Al Maktoum International (DWC) without any assistance from immigration officials.

In October last year, the GDRFA told Khaleej Times that five gates at DXB Terminal 3 were enhanced, with the facial recognition feature added. Travellers are able to clear procedures within seconds without having to even take out their documents. All they need to do is look at the green light over the enhanced smart gates.

Emirates passengers in Concourse B, Terminal 3, can check-in, clear immigration and board their flights at selected gates by facial recognition.

These gates and travel paths are powered by the latest biometric technology — a mix of facial and iris recognition.

Other smart gates at Dubai airport terminals are contactless, too, but require the scanning of passports or Emirates ID of arriving and departing passengers.

UAE and Gulf nationals, residents, and tourists eligible to get visa-on-arrival can use the smart gates if they are registered.

According to the GDRFA, the gates help reduce the time spent at airports.

Brigadier-General Talal Al Shanqiti, assistant general director of Airport Passport Affairs sector, said e-gates were first rolled out in Dubai in 2002. They were upgraded to smart ones in 2017. During the Covid-19 pandemic, authorities made the procedure contactless. Last year, some of them were enhanced with facial recognition technology.

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