Friday, July 18, 2008


Customs invests US$55m in X-ray scanners. John Mather Last Updated: July 17. 2008 10:07 PM UAE.
One of the inspection vans with the new equipment will be stationed at the Al Ain border crossing with Saudi Arabia.

Sammy Dallal / The National

ABU DHABI.... Three mobile X-ray units capable of detecting hidden weapons, drugs, alcohol (stolen cars) and people being trafficked across the country’s borders are due to arrive in the emirate this week as part of a US$55 million (Dh202m) investment by Abu Dhabi Customs.“I call them my baby vans,” said Saeed al Muhairi, the general manager of Customs, who expects the equipment to start arriving tomorrow. “And as soon as we can, we are going to use them.”

Mr Muhairi said the multimillion-dollar contract, which includes two larger systems, was part of a five-year plan to increase security in the country (Abu Dubai), initiated by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Hamad al Suwaidi, under secretary of finance.As part of the same initiative, Abu Dhabi police recently bought scanning equipment from another American company for an undisclosed amount.

Mr Muhairi said Customs had signed a deal with American Science and Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, because the quality of the imaging was the best he had seen. The company’s equipment employs an X-ray technology called Z Backscatter, which is capable of identifying low-density organic materials that are the substance of most threats.The technology will replace what Mr Muhairi described as the “very old” models of X-ray equipment currently in use at ports, border crossings and Abu Dhabi airport.“Everything has changed,” he said. “It is the best one I’ve seen in my life. We can see whatever is in the container.”

Last month, Mohammed al Mehairi, the director general of the Federal Customs Authority, said the UAE’s position in the region made it a hub for trafficking and spoke of an urgent need for ports to install state-of-the-art scanning equipment. “The biggest problems are coming from the borders,” said Mr Muhairi. He singled out the 530km Al Ghweifat border with Saudi Arabia as posing a particular problem because smugglers originating from throughout the Middle East passed through it.

After the vans arrive, customs will install the first of four large scanners at Al Ghweifat in November. Another will arrive at a later date, with two more going to the Abu Dhabi airport free zone and Mina Zayed Port. These units, knows as OmniView inspection systems, are used by Nato and the US Navy and can process 24 lorries an hour. The Omani and Saudi Arabian borders will each get two Z Portal scanners – drive-through inspection stations that scan cargo from three angles. Mr Muhairi said more equipment would be ordered as needed and he expected another large shipment with the opening of Khalifa port, the Dh37 billion (US$10.1bn) development at Taweelah on which work is now under way.

As part of the UAE’s plan to develop a nuclear energy programme, the country has promised to meet international standards and increase efforts to prevent the smuggling of nuclear material.Mr Reiss said that while his company’s systems were not designed to detect radiation, they were capable of identifying unusual containers that could contain radioactive material. This, he argued, was actually more effective than trying to detect radiation; many innocuous items, including chocolate and Play-Doh, emit low-level radiation that was sufficient to trigger detection alarms.

There are many, many reports of stolen vehicles from around the world making their way to Dubai UAE and then re-exported in contianers to points around the world; Dubai: Police have recovered from Iraq luxury cars worth more than Dh2 million stolen from various car rental agencies in Dubai, a senior Criminal Investigation Department (CID) official said. The recovered cars were the second batch of 2008 stolen luxury cars from Iraq. A woman had rented those cars from car rental offices and whisked them off to Iraq (in containers).
The officer said seven cars were stolen in total and worth Dh2.2 million. The luxury cars were mostly Range Rovers and other SUVs.

According to records, a veiled woman used forged passports to rent the cars by paying the rent amount in cash for specified periods, with the help of her brother. The woman then used export certificates issued from one of the Gulf countries and exported the cars to Iraq. The official said the stolen cars were recovered with the help of Iraqi authorities and said there is ongoing communication and attempts to recover other cars which were reported stolen from other emirates (Abu Dubai).

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