Dubai Customs innovates with drones, AI and the Metaverse to secure UAE’s borders

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    From floating drones, underwater robots, predictive AI and the expansion of the Metaverse, Dubai Customs is embracing innovation to strengthen its mission to protect the UAE’s borders.

    From smuggler threats to illicit trade, border control authorities in Gulf cities are using highly innovative technology to thwart criminal activity while also investing to streamline the shipment of goods in and out of the country. .

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    Customs Dolphin – a marine robot resembling a dolphin – features advanced technology such as a waterproof 12 megapixel 4k camera mounted on a robotic arm that can move around to cover an angle of 220 degrees (Courtesy : Dubai Customs)

    Khalid Al Zaroni, Head of Innovation at Dubai Customs, told Al Arabiya English:

    “Innovation is one of our core values, of course, along with compliance and facilitation.”

    Many of the ideas have come from submissions from employees within Dubai Customs, he said.

    Dubai Customs inspection buggy (provided)

    Dubai Customs inspection buggy (provided)

    “One of Dubai Customs’ strengths is the culture we have built here. We always encourage submissions.”

    marine robot

    One such proposal is a dolphin-shaped marine robot with advanced technology such as a waterproof 12-megapixel 4k camera mounted on a robotic arm that can move around to cover an angle of 220 degrees. It was the Dubai Customs Dolphin.

    The submarine can swim at speeds of 8 knots or 16 km/h, record live video and capture high-definition still images. You can also use GPS to scan specific spots in the water. The control and streaming range is approximately 1,000 meters.

    Inspectors can remotely control customs dolphins and send them to monitor vessels and their movements before they enter port. This technology allows customs officials to detect attempts to remove contraband before a vessel enters the inspection pier.

    Dubai Customs inspectors intercept smuggling of 12.5 kg of marijuana hidden in the lining of a passenger's bag traveling to Dubai International Airport.  (attached)

    Dubai Customs inspectors intercept smuggling of 12.5 kg of marijuana hidden in the lining of a passenger’s bag traveling to Dubai International Airport. (attached)

    Al-Zarooni said the marine robot recently helped seize illegal goods in the UAE.

    deterrent drone

    Another proposal that has come to fruition is customs deterrence drones. This innovation changes the previously difficult inspection procedure for traditional wooden dhows, where smugglers appear to hide things in bulkheads and hidden compartments.

    “Even the canine unit, even the organic lifeforms, are really hesitant to send inspectors out there when doing inspections for questionable or dangerous goods,” Al Zarroni said. .

    A member of Dubai Customs then suggested a hovering drone.

    “Smart drones on wooden dhows have been a big challenge for us so far,” he says. “Conventional dhows coming in creeks can present a very dangerous situation, especially in the cargo hold…the floor is very unstable and dangerous toxins can be present.”

    “Drone technology has reached a level where the drone itself can be very stable in the air,” said Al Zarroni. “The drone is almost immobile and can be controlled by GPS. It can be fitted with various scanners and high-definition cameras.”

    “So we prototyped the drone and protected it with a cage. We sent it into one of the cargo pits. will be implemented.”

    “Each inspector could have their own drone that they could send whenever they needed to inspect a particular zone.”

    Utilization of artificial intelligence

    More new technology will be introduced as Dubai Customs continues to deter smugglers while streamlining services for companies bringing trade out of the country, Alzaroni said.

    “We are trying to implement more AI into our procedures. For example, we have something called robotic process automation that speeds up certain declarations of goods.

    “We now have a digital system for filing. speed up.”

    “We are also trying to implement AI to better understand our clients, a kind of official certification system that helps us understand their pain points.”

    “AI can help with that through image analysis and facial recognition.”

    Early threat identification

    The predictive AI will also be used by Dubai Customs to equip an “early threat assessment” of cargo ship shipments to the UAE, according to al-Zarooni.

    “This will give us a sort of early warning system for certain things we may have previously suspected.”

    enter the metaverse

    The Metaverse is being touted as the next big leap in technology. Also aiming to stay ahead of the curve, Dubai Customs plans an online presence in an interactive virtual space, joining Google, Amazon and other Dubai government agencies.

    This is in line with the Dubai Metaverse Strategy launched by Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed of Dubai in July 2022. The strategy aims to contribute $4 billion to Dubai’s economy within five years and support 40,000 virtual jobs, making the emirate one of the world’s top 10 players in the metaverse economy. One person.

    “Yes, we are also experimenting with the metaverse,” said al-Zarooni. “Certain government agencies will have a significant presence in the metaverse. It will provide visibility to[partners]who are offering services or have a presence in the metaverse to speed up customer service. , further increasing customer satisfaction.”

    “What I am really impressed and proud of is the city of Dubai. The leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is a real inspiration for us because he loves innovation and innovation Because we believe it will be the driving force of the future.”

    Dubai Customs recently held a ‘Foreseeing Forum’ during UAE Innovation Month 2023 to support the goals of ‘UAE Vision 2031’ and ‘Dubai Economic Agenda D33’. The forum aimed to explore the future of customs and the success factors for customs services. Attendees included Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director General of Dubai Customs and CEO of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, as well as representatives from several business sectors.

    The theme of the forum was “Innovating Together for a Sustainable Economy” and was overseen by Customer Satisfaction and supported by Strategy and Corporate Excellence and Service Innovation. Representatives of foreign diplomatic organizations and strategic partners also attended the forum.

    A workgroup of traders and investors from various business sectors was formed to share their views and ideas on the most effective ways to tackle future challenges and turn them into outcomes.

    Discussions were attended by groups representing various industries including Electronics, Supply Chain, Logistics, Indian Business Council, National Association of Freight and Supply, Trademark Owners Protection Group, Dubai Gold and Jewelry Group, Dubai Computer Group, The Fruit Did. Vegetable Traders Group, Retail Group, and Multinational Corporation. The workgroup provided quality ideas for improving customs operations and led to a new starting point in Dubai Customs’ efforts to develop and provide the best customs services and facilities.

    read more:

    Dubai Customs stops smuggling 12.5kg of marijuana hidden in bag lining

    GITEX 2022: Dubai Customs showcases advanced drones to stem the flow of illegal drugs and goods

    Fake designer goods and counterfeit medicines: Inside Dubai Customs crackdown on counterfeiting


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