Demand for biometrics grows in Middle East

Published 23 January 2006

Look east, biometric developer: Demand is rapidly growing in the Middle East for verifying the identity of individuals at corporate and government sites as well as at border points and airports, with the market expected to be worth over $630 million by 2008, according to latest industry analysis. Major regional biometric identity projects are expected to be announced in 2006. Leading by market value are Saudi Arabia and the UAE which, combined, currently spend 77 percent of the region’s IT budget, worth almost $9 billion annually. Major projects such as new airports are one reason why industry players feel prospects are brighter in the Gulf region compared to Europe. The UAE Ministry of the Interior also approved a $53 million contract last year for the design of an ePassport. In a recent survey, 53 percent of Saudi companies believed that the use of biometrics in office buildings is warranted in light of the heightened security situation. Saudi Arabia is also amassing a fingerprint database of all citizens and foreigners that enter the kingdom and hopes to eventually develop an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) at all air, sea and land ports and other border crossings.

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