Industry News

Dubai Airport introduces 3D face scanning to speed up security checks

Satish Kumar for "The National"

With over 80 million passengers arriving every year and an expected 124 million by 2020, Dubai International Airport officials brainstormed for 18 months and, in partnership with Emirates, came up with an innovative method to improve passenger traffic and speed up security checks.

By the end of 2018, Dubai International Airport will introduce biometric borders to verify passengers’ identity and get rid of traditional security checkpoints. Dubai Airport will benefit from a tunnel built to mimic a virtual fish tank with over 80 hidden cameras that will capture passengers’ faces and irises as they walk through it, looking at the fish to be matched with their digital profile.

“The tunnel has not come out of nowhere, without any foundation. We have been working for about four years to transform the procedure from the traditional counter and in the future we will not need the counter at all,” said Major Gen Obaid Al Hameeri, deputy director general of Dubai residency and foreign affairs.

If security checks are required, a red alert will flicker, while a green light with passengers who have already registered and are allowed to pass through will see a message that reads “Have a nice trip.” The tunnel can be customized to portray other landscapes or commercials.

“The fish is a sort of entertainment and something new for the traveler but, at the end of the day, it attracts the vision of the travelers to different corners in the tunnel for the cameras to capture his/her face print,” added the foreign affairs office. “And throughout the tunnel, the passenger does not feel anything, they pass through normally.”

The project will be in beta phase and only implemented in Terminal 3 but by, 2020, the technology is expected to be implemented across the entire infrastructure to reduce time spent at immigration counters. According to officials, the current time spent is 5 seconds, but they would still like to optimize it.

About the author


From a young age, Luana knew she wanted to become a writer. After having addressed topics such as NFC, startups, and tech innovation, she has now shifted focus to internet security, with a keen interest in smart homes and IoT threats. Luana is a supporter of women in tech and has a passion for entrepreneurship, technology, and startup culture.