Full-body scanners at UAE airports?

Deployment of controversial scanners not ruled out if health, privacy concerns can be addressed

In light of the heightened threat perceptions across the world’s airports and air-cargo facilities, the UAE is considering deployment of electronic scanners that detect changes in weight of baggage taken on board while the installation of the controversial full-body scanners is not ruled out.

Brigadier Pilot Ahmad bin Thani, Director-General of the Department of Airports Security in Dubai Police, told the Border Control Airport and Seaport Security Conference in Dubai on Monday that security will only get tighter at all airports in the country and the installation of full-body scanners could be a reality once the security and health concerns are adequately addressed.

He said the machines currently being used at US airports must be modified and can be used selectively to screen suspicious passengers at the country’s airports. Privacy issues also need to be taken care of since the scanner exposes a person completely, reports The National. 

He said security measures at all UAE airports could be upgraded every year to keep pace with the need of the day.

The UAE being a hub for cargo, especially with the massive re-export market, airports are expected to go for advanced explosive detectors and adapt newer methods to pick out any contraband items including drugs.  Sniffer dogs could also be deployed to dig out explosives and drugs hidden in cargo consignments or baggage.

He said a system would soon come into place to detect pentaerythritol tetranitrate -- better known as PETN – a material used to make explosives.

In his address Khaled al Mazrouei, the chairman of the Gulf Airport Services Association and general manager of Fujairah Airport told the gathering that weight detection scanners will alert airport security officials about any change in weight in the baggage that comes out of the aircraft as well.

Besides being sure of passengers not carrying anything other than what is screened after checking in, it also reduces the chances for them leaving anything dangerous or illegal on board.

He said all cargo must go through 100 per cent screening to ensure the shipments are free of explosives or even drugs or other contraband items.

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