Gulf countries working on developing an integrated biometric database
The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is working on an integrated biometric database that would allow the nations to share their country’s respective biometric data, according to a report by the Middle East North Africa Financial Network.
The database, which will include data on all expats who have violated civil and criminal laws or been convicted or deported, is designed to prevent any convicted expatriate workers from re-entering a Gulf country if there is proof of their criminal involvement in their previous country of residence.
Discussed back in October at the last GCC labor ministers’ meeting, the planned system must still be cleared by the ministries of labor and interior of all GCC countries.
The integrated database comes in the midst of rising crime rates in the GCC countries. Many have blamed the rise in crime rates on the growing migrant workforce, which represents 70 percent of the total labor force, or 20 million workers in total.
The secretariat of the Chambers of Commerce of the Federation of the GCC spoke out against the negative social and economic impact of the increasing migrant workforce, particularly in regards to crime.
Saudi Arabian publication Arab News recently welcomed the decision in an editorial piece.
“A biometric database of convicted criminals is being created. Iris-scanning, facial recognition, even good old fingerprints will find the fraudster out,” wrote Arab News. “The GCC move to use biometrics to verify identities is … highly significant. An arrival may not hold a travel document with biometric details. But this will not matter.”
The General Directorate of Passports for Saudi Arabia recently completed a mandatory fingerprint exercise for all expats and all dependents over the age of 15. In April, it issued a new residence permit and final exit for all expatriate women.