Abu Dhabi: The United Arab Emirates is close to realising a Schengen visa waiver which will allow Emiratis visa-free travel to any of all 26 Schengen states, said a senior official.

Continued efforts of UAE diplomats, indefatigably working under the chief of UAE foreign policy, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, have resulted in an overwhelming majority vote in favour of marking the country on a list of countries exempt from Schengen visa requirements.

This follows the recent vote at the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), where the UAE was added to a list of countries in the Caribbean and Pacific oceans recommended for receiving the visa-waiver. The proposal was passed with a majority vote of 71 per cent of voting LIBE members, but awaits final approval by the European Parliament.

If endorsed, the UAE would be the first Arab country, second in the Middle East and third among Islamic countries whose citizens receive the visa waiver, said Sulaiman Al Mazroui, UAE Ambassador to the European Union, a diplomat who has been hard at work towards abolishing the travel restrictions imposed on UAE citizens.

Al Mazroui told Gulf News on the phone from Brussels, UAE citizens are exactly the type to be given the visa waiver: their purposes in travel are constricted to education, medical treatment, tourism, and investment, and in every case their travel to European countries is not without mutual benefit, and is not a risky affair. “If it is education or medical treatment they travel for, the government finances them in most cases, making defaulting on expenses unlikely.

Additionally, Emirati tourists, he explains, are “voracious shoppers seeking quality” — an unsurprising impetus for shoppers whose country’s trade connections with European countries tipped the €50 million (Dh247 million) point, and where 500 airline trips a week are regularly travelled; numbers that will most likely increase as travel restrictions are truncated. And Emiratis pose no security threat of terrorism,” the ambassador added. see more

source: gulfnews