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ePassports project in final stage

posted on 01/06/2005: 742 views

UAE authorities are in the final stages of issuing ePassports to all UAE citizens, officials said here yesterday. "We have completed all arrangements for the ePassport scheme. We are now evaluating tenders for printing of the new documents which will have hi-tech security features," the officials said during a Press conference held at the Emirates Identity Authority to announce an international identity summit to be hosted by Dubai next month, according to a report in Khaleej Times.

The ePassport project is expected to commence by the beginning of next year. The UAE is the first GCC country and first country in the region to introduce such system. The Ministry of Interior has been selected by the General Secretariat of the GCC to prepare a unified database for identity cards and passports for GCC citizens. A single ePassport, which will carry the emblem of the secretariat, will be issued by each state separately, with unified data that is electronically readable in any of the other states.

The pioneering experience of the UAE in introducing latest technologies such as the ePassport will be highlighted at the Identity Summit which takes place from June 5 to 7 in Dubai, said Dr Saeed Khalfan Al Daheri, Director-General of the Emirates National Identity Authority.

He said the summit, which incorporates the second Middle East Biometrics Forum, will be sponsored by the Authority, under the patronage of Lieutenant-General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior and Vice-Chairman of the Authority. The summit is organised by Institute for International Research (IIR) Middle East.

He said the issuing of high-tech ID cards to all UAE nationals and residents would begin by the end of this year at the start of a three-year project. The ministry approved the design of the card last year and signed a Dh194 million (US$53 million) contract with French company Sagem to provide the technology.

At the summit, senior officials of both the Authority and Sagem will be speaking about the technology. The summit incorporates an exhibition by biometric and identity solution providers. "Authenticating employees, customers and citizens is becoming increasingly sophisticated," said IIR Divisional Director, Barth de Ridder.

"The Middle East is pioneering into service of some of the world's biggest biometric-based identity systems. Several countries such as the UAE are right now introducing national identity cards systems incorporating the latest in smart card technology and biometric data. This rapidly-growing deployment brings with it a wide range of vital issues and challenges as privacy risks, secure system design, and the strengths and weaknesses of technology," he said. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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