EXCLUSIVE: Thani al-Zaffin of emaratech on smart gate security at Dubai airports
As a leading technology firm in the Arab world, emaratech is playing a pivotal role in border security and passengers scanning processing through Dubai airports.
This helps in keeping the city ready and maintain the global distinction of being the world’s top airport for international passengers, which is mostly due to its ability to process millions of passengers efficiently and safely. The aviation industry is set to contribute as much as 32 percent to the emirate’s GDP by 2020.
Thani al-Zaffin, Director General and board member of emaratech spoke to Al Arabiya English about the latest smart technologies applied at Dubai airports, border security and cooperation with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs.
Al Arabiya English: As a leading company in the UAE in information technology, what role are emaratech's latest innovative technology products playing in the growth of the airports industry in the country?
Thani al-Zaffin: With the sustainable growth at 10 percent year after year in the United Arab Emirates with a 90 million passengers passing through Dubai airports this year, emaratech definitely contributes to this growth by processing 120,000 passengers every day, reducing manual shifts by 99 percent as well as reducing operational cost of human resources by 50 percent.
AAE: As the countdown to EXPO 2020 begins, which is expected to bring 400 million air passengers through the Dubai Airports (Dubai and Al Maktum), how will smart corridor (the latest innovative technology adopted by emaratech) facilitate in processing passengers in terms of security check?
Thani al-Zaffin: We as system provider with the latest in innovative technology and through the smart gates in Dubai Airports, provides ‘Pre-Clearance’ at a targeted average of 90 percent of passengers who are pre-cleared before their arrival, with 70 percent out of this 90 percent pre-cleared with passing through the smart corridors, which will be put in place in Dubai Airports by September this year in Terminal 3 of Emirates Airlines VIP customers tarmac.
AAE: Dubai has been a model city when it comes to adopting new technologies. What is new from emaratech in smart gates and others and what’s your expansion plan?
Thani al-Zaffin: Other than the fact that Dubai is a business hub, it launched lately the emirate’s Future Accelerator initiative to put the United Arab Emirates ahead in the region in terms of innovative technologies and e-Services, especially with projects like the ones we provide.
Some of this services is smart trolleys, smart corridors and a project called “Iris in the move” where passengers’ eyes are scanned while going through Dubai Airports, all the way to their check out points, with 90 percent of the processing time done before departure or arrival, reducing the time of the manual processing by 99 percent.Thani al-Zaffin, Director General of emaratech
Some of this services is smart trolleys, smart corridors and a project called “Iris in the move” where passengers’ eyes are scanned while going through Dubai Airports, all the way to their check out points, with 90 percent of the processing time done before departure or arrival, reducing the time of the manual processing by 99 percent.
This technology currently exists in Muscat International Airport in Oman and Queen Alia International Airport in Amman’s Jordan and there are plans to expand in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and other Arab countries.
AAE: To what extent do you cooperate with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs and what are the challenges?
Thani al-Zaffin: We as system provider- with the latest in innovative technology and through the smart gates in Dubai Airports- and with our business partner, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai, work very closely on how we handle this huge number of passengers. The only challenge is that the airport is a fixed physical place with limited capacity which you cannot change overnight. So to cope with this huge band of people with the same processing power and limited counters, the biometric smart gates and automation comes as a need.
Actually the biometric smart gate is five times more efficient than an officer, as an average there is one officer monitoring five gates. However the targeted efficiency of these biometric smart gates out of the processing of passengers’ operations is 60 percent by 2020. Currently we are targeting 20 percent of the volume of passengers traveling through Dubai Airports. The security of the border is done automatically through the biometric passport which makes it difficult to enter with forged documents.