The oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced a bold new initiative on Monday, by which official documents, such as identity cards, driver's licenses and other permits, will be delivered to citizens by a fleet of drones.
"This is the first project of its kind in the world," boasted UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs Mohammed al-Gergawi to Al Arabiya, adding that the drones will be tested in Dubai for six months, and afterwards could be introduced to service within the year.
Gergawi noted "within a year from now we will understand the capabilities of the system and what sort of services, and how far we can deliver. Eventually a new product will be launched across all the country."
The drones will be powered by batteries and fly with four rotors; they feature a half meter (1.6 foot) wingspan with a top compartment to hold small packages. The devices will be colored white and sport a UAE flag design.
In order to address fears that the unmanned delivery of sensitive official documents may present a liability, the drones will sport fingerprint and eye scanning security systems, according to engineer Abdulrahman Alserkal who worked on the project.
Aside from the security fears, natural hazards raise additional concerns. UAE often has temperatures surpassing 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer months, and is occasionally plagued by sandstorms.
Drones have been a hot topic lately; just this Saturday Iran threatened the US, saying its drones could attack American warships in the Persian Gulf. The Islamic regime's Fotros drone has a 2,000 kilometer (1,243 mile) range and can stay airborne 30 hours, meaning it can strike Israel.
The UAE has frequently made its antagonism towards Israel clear. In January, the premier Dutch soccer team Vitesse left behind its best defender, Dan Mori, when traveling for training in the UAE, after he was refused entry by UAE authorities for being Israeli.
Last December, the Israeli team in the under-18 division of the World Youth Chess Championship in the UAE was forced to play anonymously without the Israeli flag being flown or their country of origin being listed.