Business is active in the Middle East, where national ID schemes, commercial ventures and improving border security are all providing impetus. The ambitious approach taken by some of the region’s governments has led to many exciting and cutting edge biometric schemes being deployed in the recent years. In 2004, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) known as one of the most rapidly growing financial centers in the world, deployed biometric for access control and employee attendance systems for the building, in order to strengthen the security and improve human resources management efficiency. Continually, in 2006, Qatar introduced National Biometric Infrastructure that used multi-application biometric identity platform. The goal of this project is the development of a common, national, biometrically assured identity infrastructure to form the basis for several initiatives including: National ID, eGate, eVISA, eVoting, ePassport, and integration with the national criminal AFIS system. In January 2014, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) passport department prevented 714 blacklisted people from entering the country using a fingerprint biometrics border control system in conjunction with paper documents. Within this year, Yemen also undertook biometric technology for voter registration project.
While North America is known as the dominance for global biometrics market, the Middle East is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing regional markets for biometrics. Biometrics is relatively more popular in countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Qatar and the UAE. These countries can also be categorized as oil-producing economies, while profit from oil is at a higher percentage than other countries in the formation of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). These countries indicate a high demand for security which contributed most to the growth of biometric in this region.
In Middle-East biometric market, Saudi Arabia is emerging as the most key growing market on account of government reforms, industry establishment, IT/ITeS sector emergence, government initiatives and mandatory policies. For example, government has mandated biometrics enabled visas for all the tourists visiting in the country, which would push the growth of biometrics market in the country. Additionally, the General Directorate of Passports of Saudi has mandated capturing of fingerprint of all expatriate men and women in the country.
In accordance with “Global Biometrics Market (2014-2020)” report by 6Wresearch, UAE accounts for third largest market share in Middle-East biometrics market, after Turkey and Saudi Arabia, thanks to the growth in the construction market. UAE has successfully formed the World’s largest biometric database including the records of residents and citizens of over 135 million fingerprints, hand/palm prints and facial images. 6Wresearch also states that in 2020, UAE is expected to conduct World Expo event which forces the higher growth in the construction of hotels and commercial offices. That is the reason why UAE noticed a significant demand for security systems, primarily video surveillance and access control systems in SME sector. Although card readers had been reported to have led the market of access control, the trend has shifted towards biometric technology based access control systems.
Furthermore, the FIFA World Cup 2022 will be taken place in Qatar. Hence a great demand for advanced security systems is expected to increase in the forecast period. According to Arabnews, Qatari government is planning to invest more than $200 billion for the upcoming sporting event, which would be mainly invested in infrastructure like construction and renovation of stadiums, hotels, metro rail, and highways. This will be a positive sign for biometric market in Middle East due to higher security demand.
Over the next five year, Middle-East biometric market is expected to continuously grow in high speed. 6Wresearch forecasts that The Middle East will emerge as the fastest growing market with a CAGR of 14.5% in 2020. Growth in the region will be driven by growing social and political unrest and the ensuing increased focus on airport and border control processes. The growth of the market would be majorly controlled by fingerprint biometric technology and the other technologies such as facial and iris recognition will also exhibit higher growth rate, primarily driven by government projects.