The immigration trolley – which is designed to cater for the specialist needs of people with certain disabilities, pregnant women, elderly visitors and people with impaired mobility – was launched by the authorities in Dubai at the Gitex Technology Week. Under the scheme, an immigration officer will take up his place in the transportation device which also provides access to a computer screen. The smart trolley will then be able to move the prospective migrant through the airport’s structure whilst the immigration officer has access to the tools needed to complete all of the necessary immigration procedures. This means, the makers say, that everything that is required for a person to officially enter the United Arab Emirates can be conducted even as they are making physical progress through the air terminal.
In an effort to stress the convenience of the system – particularly for visitors with disabilities and mobility impairments – the creators say that the visitor will be able to, “sit on the other side [of the trolley], hand over their passport and lean back until the immigration formalities are completed.” Without any unforeseen delays, it is expected that the paperwork will be completed to allow the migrant entry to the Emirates by the time the trolley has reached the luggage reclaim belt.
Reports in the Emirates have underlined just how stressful border procedures can be for some migrants, particularly for disabled people who may be less able to stand in queues whilst waiting to be processed. Gaining official entry to the UAE can often be a dreaded part of arriving at one of the Emirate’s airports. In Dubai and elsewhere in the region, long waiting lines are not that uncommon. According to immigration officials in Dubai, this can prove to be a considerable burden for certain people who are unable to stand for a long time. Dubai International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world and the place can be difficult to get around for some people with reduced mobility. The airport already offers both wheelchair and buggy services to passengers who happen to have special mobility needs and this helps such passengers to make their way to and from gates. However, the immigration trolley is the first technology to provide the twin services of reduced mobility transportation and immigration formalities in a single device.
People who want to use the immigration trolley service will not have to pay for it. The immigration service in Dubai said that use of the system will be free of charge, but that it would not be made freely available to everybody. “Not every person who is unable or unwilling to walk will be allowed to make use of this service,” said an official, during the launch of the system at Technology Week. “We have some options under consideration right now to make sure that the trolley service is used appropriately for the people that it is intended for,” he continued. “We may work together in co-operation with airlines in the future, for instance, by asking them to provide immigration officers with a manifest of the people on their flights who need assistance when disembarking from their plane.”
At the unveiling of the immigration trolley it was also claimed that passengers who fell into the correct categories – who might therefore require the additional service – will be picked up from the aeroplane directly to be zipped through the terminal and dropped off behind the normal border control boundary. Many in Dubai have seen the new service as one that augments the already much-vaunted e-Gate system. This is currently being rolled out in more than one of Dubai’s airports and provides another simple solution for migrant workers and others to avoid the dreaded long queues at border control. However, unlike the new immigration trolley for disabled and pregnant entrants to the Emirate, the e-Gate system is only available to people who have pre-registered to use it before arriving at the airport.