Saudi Arabia Continues Biometric Securitization Effort

The Saudi Arabian government has entered the final phase of a plan to register the fingerprints of its citizens and expatriates, according to an Arab News article by Saeed Al-Khotani. Individuals over the age of 15 who have not registered their fingerprints by January 21st will not be allowed to obtain or renew residence permits, nor will they be able to access the government’s online services.

It might seem a bit harsh, but government representatives say that the measure has been rolled out gradually over the last few years, with passport offices open in all of the Kingdom’s major cities and towns. And the Passport Department started texting citizens on Tuesday to inform and remind them of the deadline.

The measure seems to be part of a larger government effort to install biometric border security for the nation; Saudi Arabia has also been in the news lately with its new biometric screening process for Muslim travelers undertaking the sacred Umrah pilgrimage into the Kingdom. Border security and citizen authentication are concerns currently shared by nations all over the world, with states like India and Australia also striving to set up biometric registries of their citizens, and various other countries keenly exploring biometric security measures at their borders and transportation terminals.

November 28, 2014 – by Alex Perala