By David Legard

IDG News Service (Australia Bureau)

The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) is to issue identity smart cards to its two million population beginning in the middle of 2004, according to smart card vendor Gemplus International SA, which has won the contract to supply the system in conjunction with Sagem SA.

Sagem will provide its Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) while Gemplus will provide smart cards, software and services from its ResIDent secure ID product range, Gemplus said in a statement Wednesday.

The system will use Java Card technology, which can easily accommodate future applications being added to the card’s functionality, Gemplus said.

The initial aim of the U.A.E.’s biometrics smart card system is for identification purposes, storing fingerprint data and personal details. The systems may later be extended to include data such as driver’s license, border control, and emergency medical data, according to Gemplus.

The cards can be validated through fixed readers or mobile terminals, Gemplus said.

The two companies recently won a similar contract to provide smart card ID in the nearby country of Oman.