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Smart cards arrive amid tight security

By Muawia E. Ibrahim / 14 June 2005

ABU DHABI - UAE authorities received on Tuesday the first consignment of Smart Cards for the planned national identity card which will be issued to all nationals and expatriates by end of this year.

The smart cards were manufactured by UK-based Gemplus, a world leader in smart card manufacturing industry with the biggest share in global market. The first consignment contains 700,000 cards. It arrived at the Abu Dhabi International Airport. A total of  two million cards have already been manufactured by the company. Two more consignments containing 700,000 cards will arrive later.

The consignment was transported from the airport under tight security measures. According to officials, these smart cards will be used in the first years of operation of the programme. More cards will be needed for issuance to all nationals and expatriates, numbering 4.2 million at present.

The UAE authorities are, however, studying the possibility of manufacturing the smart cards locally, according to Colonel Ahmed Nasser Al Rayesi, Director of IT Department at the General Directorate of Abu Dhabi Police and member of the board of the Emirates Identity Authority.

He said an agreement would be signed with a national factory specialised in this field if it has the technologies.

He pointed out this would be a good investment in the area of technology transfer.

Gemplus smart card is a standard that provides a common security and card management architecture that protects the most important aspect of a chip card system investment - the infrastructure. It delivers a complete and fully integrated smart ID card system designed for nationwide ID programmes.

Col Rayesi said the smart card has high security features which make it foolproof. 'Latest technology has been used in manufacturing the smart cards which have high security features that prevent forgery or any attempt to change the personal data stored in the chip,' he noted.

The ID cards, complete with biometric recognition, can be checked by both portable terminals and by automatic electronic  validation, for example, at airport immigration checkpoints.

Dr Saeed Khalfan bin Rakan Al Dhahiri, Director-General, Emirates Identity Authority, commended the efforts made by the authority's team which travelled last week to UK to receive the consignment. The team managed to count the two million smart cards in a record time of two days, using the laser technology.

The aim of issuing a national ID card is to enhance the country's identification processes while also improving its IT infrastructure, providing better, faster and more accurate public services for its citizens, together with higher levels of security.
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