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Saudi Arabia plans imminent rollout of biometric passport, UAE hits 2M digital IDs

Saudi Arabia plans imminent rollout of biometric passport, UAE hits 2M digital IDs

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is planning to introduce a biometric passport in the coming months with advanced security features that will make the travel document less prone to fraud, reports Siasat.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), meanwhile, reports say about 2.2 million people have already signed up to the digital ID, with close to 150 entities already taking part in the digital identity project, as of mid-October.

Biometric passport for S. Arabia in next few months

Citing local media outlet Al-Arabiya, Siasat writes that the announcement was made recently by assistant minister of interior in charge of technical affairs, Prince Bandar Bin Abdullah Al Mashari, during the GITEX Technology Week 2021 which took place at the Dubai World Trade Center. He said the passports will be available in the next few months.

The deputy minister was also quoted as saying it is also now possible for the national digital ID to be renewed online with the applicant submitting their biometrics such as fingerprints.

The new biometric passport will have an embedded electronic processor chip that contains the applicant’s biometric information which can be used to authenticate the identity of the passport holder.

Apart from features that will make the passport more secure and the data on it difficult to tamper with, it will also save holders’ time during checks as the information on it can be read in just a matter of seconds.

A global tech event is planned for February 2022 in the kingdom, with the goal of discussing its technology growth prospects, which involves digital ID transformation.

2.2 million digital ID registrants in UAE

According to Middle East in 24, federal and government agencies currently offer about 7,000 digital services and at least 7,000 persons are registering their biometrics for the ID system daily. This as the number of registrants for the new digital ID platform has passed the two million mark.

The plan of the Emirates government, the report adds, is to get everyone in the country have a digital ID by the year 2023.

Mohammed Ibrahim Al Zarooni, deputy director general of the Information Sector at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and the Digital Government, was quoted as saying on the sidelines of the GITEX Global 2021 in Dubai that the digital ID project is intended to build on their digital economy gains as the UAE government has become more interconnected and provides digital services through integrated digital platforms.

Muhammad Youssef Al-Khamis, director of Policies and Programs Department at the Authority, commented that the digital ID registration was in steady progress as the number of registrants increased by 300 percent between April 2020 and September 2021. He also noted that 300,000 people used biometrics at the state level during the same period.

The Emirati officials said they hope to achieve full digital transformation by 2025 in a move that includes a total of 46 initiatives grouped under six axes. They are also hoping to put the country among the top digital ID countries in the world.

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