With reporting from Riham Sheble
Qatar’s Ministry of Interior has announced the rollout of a new security vehicle at Hamad International Airport to help more readily identify any weapons, drugs and explosives carried by travelers.
In a statement, MOI said that the technology, which has been patented by the ministry and the nation’s Internal Security Forces (Lekwhiya), is the first of its kind in the Middle East.
Brig. Essa Arrar Al Rumaihi, director of the airport security department, called HIA “one of the most important civilizational fronts of the country,” as it is a traveler’s first and last impression of Qatar.
“This is why securing the airport is of extreme import, which has merited the attention and efforts of MOI and Lekhwiya,” he said.
The cost of the new technology was not mentioned. It has been installed in what appears to be a golf cart that is tasked with covering some 30sqkm of the airport.
The move comes as airport security is being beefed up around the world due to ongoing political conflicts.
Just last month, the US asked international airports that fly directly to the states to increase screening efforts, over fears that al Qaeda operatives in Syria or Yemen would smuggle bombs onto planes heading to America.
The vehicle’s equipment is capable of specifying the location of hazardous or illicit materials inside the bag of a passenger, and also if the person is carrying anything hazardous inside of their clothes or their bodies, the statement said.
This is done through x-ray technology that causes different colors to appear on the cart’s device monitors.
These devices then send wireless signals to the control room inside the airport, and enable inspectors inside the vehicle to see what is happening while remaining a safe distance from the site in case a dangerous body is detected. The entire scanning process takes about 10 seconds.
It is unclear what type of scans are being conducted on travelers, and no mention of privacy was made in MOI’s statement.
In the past, efforts by other nations to increase airport security with new technology has been met with a backlash from citizens concerned about the invasiveness of x-ray scans that could depict their nude form.
Officers inside the cart can also assess passengers’ identities through portable fingerprint and document scanners, which can examine passports and boarding cards to assist passengers who are late to their gates – or determine if passengers tickets’ are forged or if they are in a part of the airport where they should not be, the statement said.
The vehicle, which runs on solar energy, can cross-check any information gleaned with government databases in Qatar international security organizations like Interpol.
Cameras are also affixed on the vehicle that can scan in all directions.
The new technology is also expected to be able to detect hazardous materials (such as explosives, illegal drugs, toxic chemicals, radioactive materials, weapons and other sharp objects).
If the trial vehicle is successful, more may be produced for use at the airport, and possibly other venues, such as sports stadiums and the Qatar-Saudi border.
Also this week, the Supreme Council of Health sought to calm fears about the the spread of Ebola by saying thermal detectors are being used at HIA to scan arriving passengers from countries hit by the deadly virus.
The cameras monitor body temperature as a way of identifying travelers who are sick with fever. This would enable airport staff to monitor and identify anyone who may potentially be infected.
No cases of Ebola have been found in Qatar to date. The SCH has warned residents against traveling to Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria until further notice, but national carrier Qatar Airways continues to fly to West Africa without interruption.
On Tuesday, the airline issued a statement that said:
“We would like to reassure you that we are monitoring the situation very closely and are in contact with both local and international health and aviation organisations to ensure that all necessary and appropriate measures are in place to protect our passengers, our staff and the general public.
Qatar Airways, in line with international recommendations, advises passengers to avoid non-essential travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.”
yeah right, the Ebola virus would stop at the Customs with this new technology…..but QA continues to fly to West Africa? that’s worrying, considering how I don’t trust here anything related to medical practices.
And yeah, being concerned about the nude form at the X-rays…..that’s really important; instead not health concerned we get bombarded with X-rays!
You don’t trust just about everything in the country, isn’t about time you just packed your bags and left? Surely you value your overall well-being over some paychecks right?
So critizing is not allowed in your opinion? I work my butt off…..I am not here for charity! Do you work for charity??? I give a service, I am paid in return. I am actually concerned about health and yes, here I don’t trust, after all Qatar is not known to have these incredible structures and higly-qualified doctors.
There are some positive things in this country, but health surely is not one of those.
Nowhere is perfect; however here sometimes the gathering of illogical things are summed up all together that I find it quite out of this world.
Is this the usual song “take it or leave it”? You could improve your lyrics with some creativity….
Actually it’s quite the contrary, I always encourage criticism. However when you deny the effectiveness of a technology that you have never witnessed being used, assume that the scanners are emitting dangerous rays when you don’t even know where the device was manufactured let alone the standards of the regulation authority of that location, then I am forced to consider your points not to be valid criticisms, but more the arrogant speculations of an ignoramus.
As for the “song” and its “lyrics”, well it can only get as creative as your constant b**ching. Almost all of your posts on here are similar in nature with constant theme of “everything here sucks and is bound to fail, boo hoo, poor me.” So I am not telling you to “take it or leave it”, what I am saying that if you are that miserable after you took it, then perhaps you should just leave it…
no, my posts are not all similar.
I trust technology, but it makes me laugh that people are more concerned about their “nude form”….really? What do they really see as nude? We are bombarded by all sorts of waves with WiFi, so it is normal I am concerned of any other extras
LOL! Even the TSA scumbags would surely get a good laugh out of this new “security vehicle” aka golf cart. I guess you have to start somewhere.
Yes, because the outward appearance of a vehicle determines what functions it may serve.
I think this article needs to be edited. There is a big difference between X-Rays and Millimeter wave scanning that is being described in the article above. Having a person driving around bombarding people with X-rays would be both unsafe for the passengers, but also especially so for the vehicle operator. Millimeter waves on the other hand are what is used at Airports in places like the US to create the “nude” image, although that software has been updated to just show an anonymous human shape. Portable millimeter wave scanners are smaller, safer, and create the types of images that are being described above. Using the term X-Rays is misleading.
‘X Ray’ was the term used by the government to describe the technology.
Correct me if I am wrong, but how is something supposed to run on solar power if its indoors?
Well spotted. Guess a bit over-enthusiastic ticking boxes on the options list. At least they have a roof on the vehicle in case the airport terminal was built by the same people that built the local malls with roofs that leak when it rains.
It’s a solar powered electric Beagle