November 18, 2007
If you can, try to get a flight to Dubai that arrives midday. If you come late at night or early in the morning, then get ready to wait for a very long time to get through customs. Usually I have taken one of KLM’s direct flights from Amsterdam, but this time I did Lufthansa via Munich (less than half the cost). It arrived at 630 this morning and the airport was a zoo. When I arrived at the customs hall, nearly every line was being used (easily 50-70 lines) with at least 40 people in each line. The customs officials are extremely efficient at what they do and the lines move quickly (unless they don’t (I saw that on the plane)).
There are however two quick sets of lines. One is for GCC passports and the other is for EGate. If you don’t know what GCC is, then you don’t have one of their passports. But EGate is a service offered by the government to get you through customs more quickly. Anyone can sign up and it costs 200 Dirhams for 2 years. There is a registration desk inside the customs hall. If you are standing in line, look in the back left corner. But every time I have gone to the desk, there has been no one there.
Today one of my colleagues in Dubai took me round to one of the ECard offices in the city and I was able to sign up within 20 minutes. Apparently, the next time I go through customs, I will be able to scan my card, then press my thumb to the scanner, and be through customs in less than two minutes. I am SOOO looking forward to trying it. From the looks of it, it is almost always up and running too, which is a foreign concept to the similar solution at Heathrow. Another benefit is that I will be able to limit the number of stamps with arabic script in my passport. That always seems to give me grief when I head back to the US.