New hi-tech plans to screen travellers

NEW technologies to screen people entering or leaving Bahrain will be introduced soon.

In the first phase, citizens and residents will be able to use their smart cards to enter and exit the country, with gates that run on artificial intelligence and face recognition technologies to be launched in the later phases.

The Interior Minister would be granted the power to determine and introduce entry/exit locations.

These changes form part of government-drafted amendments to the 1975 Passports Law which were approved by MPs last month and will be debated in the Shura Council during its weekly session on Sunday.

Interior Ministry Under-Secretary for Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs Shaikh Hisham bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa told MPs during a session last month that high-tech electronic systems were needed following a surge in passenger traffic at Bahrain International Airport, Khalifa Bin Salman Port and the King Fahad Causeway.

Procedures at the airport were tightened last year to prevent blacklisted individuals from sneaking back into the country.

“Our nationals and citizens will be able to enter and exit the country using the smart cards since we have all the information in our database,” said Shaikh Hisham during a meeting with Shura foreign affairs, defence and national security committee.

“This will be followed by biometrics, and any new high-tech system to facilitate identification that the minister may find necessary.”

Shaikh Hisham underlined the need to urgently approve the amendments as the country gains recognition as a popular tourist destination in the region.

“Some countries accept our smart cards while others don’t and for that airlines will continue with passports for entry and exit to and from countries not implementing the system.”

Borders director Colonel Fawaz Al Jiran said 22 new electronic gates have been installed at the airport, while six specific counters for expat newcomers and their families have been allocated for iris and face scanning and fingerprinting procedures.

“If the data doesn’t match, the electronic system will alert us,” Col Al Jiran.

“Impersonators, banned and denied individuals will not be able to pass through under the new system.

“We are ready to activate 22 gates set up for the purpose of entry and exit at the airport, in addition to six special counters that have been set up for further identification of new expats and their families with iris and face scanning and fingerprints being taken.”

“Whether it is a smart card or passport our procedures are precise and without any flaw.”


A high-tech electronic system developed by the Labour Market Regulatory Authority was introduced in May last year.

The system collects, saves and matches biometric data electronically, including fingerprints and irises of expatriate workers in the commercial and household sectors.

Shura foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairman Faisal Al Nuaimi said it was vital to push ahead with the legislation without delay as the country updates its travel procedures.





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