Bahrain ePassport unveiled

BAHRAIN has unveiled its first-ever ePassport featuring design and security features that reflect the country’s heritage and is expected to make overseas travel more convenient for citizens.

Interior Minister General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa launched the document in the presence of Foreign Minister Dr Abdullatif Al Zayani, Finance and National Economy Minister Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Transportation and Communications Minister Mohammed Al Kaabi, Public Security chief Lieutenant General Tariq Al Hassan, Governors, Interior Ministry Under-Secretary for Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs Shaikh Hisham bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa and a number of officials.

“We will be rolling out the new ePassport first to those whose passports are set to expire, and aim to roll out approximately 150,000-200,000 per year, with a goal to complete the roll-out in five years,” said Shaikh Hisham at the ceremony at the Public Security Officers’ Club in Gudaibiya yesterday.

“After the ePassport is provided to individuals whose passports are expiring, we will look into an ‘Express’ service for those who want to switch over to the new passports.”

The new 66-page booklet has a number of unique design and security features highlighting the kingdom’s heritage and celebrating its place on the global stage.

It has been designed by American secure identity products firm HID and will be printed in a number of specialised firms in Germany and Poland.

According to Information and eGovernment Authority chief executive Mohammed Ali Al Qaed and HID senior designer Colin Howell, Bahrain’s ePassport will also be the first in the world to feature a hashtag: #teambahrain.

“When we showed our designs to His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, he was curious about our design story and provided us with invaluable feedback,” said Mr Howell.

“He also introduced us to hashtag Team Bahrain (#teambahrain): a shared goal for building a better life for every Bahraini.

“He also wanted to juxtapose the strong Arabian horse, a symbol of Bahrain’s heritage, with the Formula 1 circuit, which represents Bahrain’s modern-day place on the global stage.”

Twelve unique two-page designs were developed for the passport, where visas will be stamped. These showcase Bahrain’s faith, history, nature, governance, education, industry, transport, sport and tourism, as well as its status as a financial hub.

The centrespread of the passport showcases the Bab Al Bahrain.

Mr Howell also noted that there are tiny icons that make up each drawing and illustration, making it impossible to counterfeit.

Under the ultraviolet light, every page has more unique design elements, including a galloping horse that appears to run when flipping through the passport, similar to early-era animation booklets.

In addition, different astronomical phenomena have been integrated into the designs, including the Argo Navus constellation and the Canopus star – currently, the second brightest start in the night sky.

The main identity page of the passport, which is the most targeted by counterfeiters, has a number of security features to make it tamper-proof.

Unlike other countries’ ePassports, which have the electronic chip embedded in the cover, the chip in Bahrain’s new ePassport is embedded within the polycarbonate identity page, protected by seven or eight layers of polymers.

The chip stores biometric data, which can be scanned by international passports, making travel easier and more convenient, while fulfilling border security requirements.

“The new ePassport will make travel much easier, while maintaining strong security through the biometric data stored on the chip in the polycarbonate page,” Shaikh Hisham added.

The Interior Minister later toured an exhibition showcasing a number of historical documents, photos and paintings related to the stages of completion of the ePassport project.

In collaboration with the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, the Interior Ministry is organising a presentation about the design of the ePassport.

The seminar will take place today at the Bahrain National Museum at 7pm and is open to all members of the public.




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