Bahrain — the new e-passport lowers all barriers

More and more countries are moving towards the dematerialization of identity documents. After Singapore, Uganda, and soon the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain has decided to take the plunge.

The Bahraini e-passport was recently unveiled. In the presence of the Minister of Transport and Finance, Interior Minister Rashid Ben Abdullah Al Khalifa indicated that the purpose of this document was to offer a modernized range of services to local residents and their travels, well beyond the shores of the Persian Gulf.

Going digital — for an easier, safer and cooler travel

Approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), of which Bahrain is a member, this electronic solution reflects a genuine turning point in globalization, that is to say — the acceleration of flows. For all e-passport enthusiasts, immigration procedures will be greatly simplified — faster visa issuance, fewer checkpoints at the airport, and reduced risk of theft or loss…

This innovation was only made possible by tighter controls on the confidentiality of computer data. Aware of the risk of piracy or counterfeiting, Manama has not skimped on security. The prototype was entrusted to American company HID Global, specialized in the design of secure identity products. The Bahraini e-passport model includes a sim card containing the user's personal and biometric information which drastically limite fraud attempts. The visa pages, were designed by Blue Line Technologies, another American design company. The passport is currently being assembled and printed by specialist firms in Germany and Poland. Much more than an administrative update, the arrival of the e-passeport in Bahrain reflects a dynamic of greater cooperation with the West.

Credits : HID Global

The new Bahraini passport mingles both tradition and modernity

Collin Howell, designer at HID Global, emphasized the close collaboration between the kingdom's authorities and American digital designers. After 12 months of development, the final result is pretty impressive. Tactile effects, color portraits, and animations... The choice of content is worth analysing for this document is the fruit of lengthy iconographic reflection. The country's culture, heritage and assets are presented, page after page, like a history book.  


Each page of the visa shows original design elements associated with different field, namely — tourism, transport, religion, nature, and science... The most striking effect lies in the sublime image of a galloping stallion which pops out of the passport as soon as you touch it. This animal symbolizes one of the country's proudest achievements — Sakhir racecourse, which hosts the world's greatest races. That combination between tradition and modernity reflects the richness and diversity of Bahrain.

“The principles are clear — we want to develop faster than the rest of the world”

Physical, mental and now administrative barriers become more and more thiner. What better way to encourage people to enjoy a little more travel and discover other cultures ? By 2024, the ICAO forecasts an increase in passenger numbers of around 4% compared to the figures recorded in December 2019.

The Kingdom of Bahrain has clearly understood the importance of trans-spatiality for its growth. As global air traffic recovers from its pre-pandemic paralysis, the Gulf country  steps away of its insularity thanks to tourism. Since the turbulence of 2011, Bahrain has been trying economic and fiscal reforms to improve its competitiveness. In this respect, the implementation of the e-passport fulfils a dual ambition. First of all, it has got to improve the mobility of citizens, and second of all, it has to encourage international travellers to come and visit the country. In order to support the new e- passport, Manama has taken on the task of building a new terminal international airport, with a capacity of 14 million passengers a year. Khaled Ibrahim Houmaidane, Director General of the Economic Development Council emphasized the strategic importance of e-passports. “The principles are clear — we want to develop faster than the rest of the world”.  

While 25 years ago, Bahrain would be a simple transit point between Europe and Asia, this exotic destination is now likely to become an attractive place for a stay. As a matter of fact, tourism sector is expected to contribute 11.4% of GDP. Currently normalising its relations to Israel and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain could already count on the arrival of these two neighbors. For a country whose etymology means “the two seas”, the technological and touristic opportunities brought by the e-passport are perhaps a bridge that will connect all the edges of the region and beyond.

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