WCO Workshop on SMART Borders for the MENA region

17 November 2023

From 22 to 26 October 2023, the World Customs Organization (WCO) hosted a regional workshop on SMART borders for the North of Africa, Near and Middle East (MENA) region in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, at the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority (ZATCA) Customs Training Centre, with the financial support of Saudi Arabia.

The event brought together 20 Customs officers from various countries in the region with the aim of exploring a wide range of topics and delving into the possible application of cutting-edge technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, internet of things (IoT), and data analytics, in the context of Customs procedures and processes.

Participants were briefed by the WCO Secretariat on best practices and topics recently discussed by the WCO working bodies. These include the development of machine learning models to analyze import transaction data for risk management, the use of drones and other remotely operated vehicles for Customs control, and a pioneering pilot project to facilitate e-commerce transactions.

An expert in Data & Analytics from ZATCA co-facilitated the workshop and provided an overview of the latest advances in data analytics technologies with informative hands-on training. Participants actively engaged in discussions, sharing their experiences in areas like the in-house development of machine learning models for identifying high-risk import transactions and the use of open source investigation (OSINT) tools for combating illicit trade.

At the end of the workshop, WCO representatives thanked the participants for their active participation and ZATCA for hosting this workshop at its Customs Training Centre, facilitating a seamless and highly successful activity.