UAE sees success in its use of biometric border control

Published 28 October 2005

As debates about the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of biometrics continues, the Persian Gulf sheikdom of Abu Dhabi is using the technology to good effect. According the Abu Dhabi police, more than 52,000 deported foreigners have been arrested while attempting to re-enter the country since the launch of the eye scan technology around three years ago. Those expelled had been detected while attempting to enter via various entry points. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) iris recognition database is the largest in the world as it contains more than 800,000 eye prints. It is also the largest in terms of search where approximately 200 billion iris comparisons have been performed so far.

John Daugman, a Cambridge University mathematician, conducted a cross comparison study of the 200 billion iris pattern. The resulting report highlighted the robustness of the iris recognition technology, especially against making false matches.

The UAE was the first country in the world to have introduced iris recognition. It was launched after the January 2003 amnesty granted by UAE authorities to illegal immigrants to leave the country. UAE now requires iris recognition tests on foreigners entering UAE from all air, land, and seaports. Through Internet links, each traveler is compared against each of 790,000 expellees (foreign nationals expelled for various violations) whose IrisCodes were registered in a central database upon expulsion.

-read more in this report