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Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry set to introduce biometric centers for visitors, pilgrims


Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry is set to introduce biometric centers to issue visas to religious pilgrims and visitors of the Kingdom.

According to the assistant foreign minister, Prince Khaled bin Saud, centers will first be opened in the UAE, South Korea and Germany. The UAE center will be operational by the end of the month.

Reported in Arab News, Khaled said the new system will help to speed up the entry procedures of visitors, and in particular, for the millions of religious pilgrims that come to the country each year.

Last November, the government decided that all hajj pilgrims be fingerprinted before being granted access to the country, giving priority to first-time pilgrims. 

In 2009, the Kaduna State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board in Nigeria used the M2Sys Bio-Plugin to keep a database of records that include every detail related to Hajj, including how many times a pilgrim had made the trip.

“It will also enable authorities to know those foreigners who have been banned from entering the Kingdom before issuing new visas as well as to identify fake visa applicants,” Prince Khaled said.

Reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, Global Entry, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that uses biometric verification to allow expedited clearance for pre-approved, traveling low-risk U.S. citizens and permanent residents, is also set to be introduced in Saudi Arabia.

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