No UK visa for Emiratis starting on Jan. 1

UK’s first ever electronic visa waiver scheme eases travel for Gulf businessmen and tourists

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Emiratis will be able to travel to the UK starting on Jan. 1 with an Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) document which will allow them to stay in the country without a visa for up to six months, the UAE state news agency WAM reported on Monday.

The UK’s first ever electronic visa waiver scheme seeks to make it cheaper and easier for business travelers and tourists to visit the UK from Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

“This is the first time the United Kingdom has ever introduced this type of scheme,” said Ambassador Dominic Jermey, according to the Abu Dhabi-based The National. “This is a very exciting innovation for us, strengthening even further the appeal of the UK to Emirati tourists, investors and business partners,” he added.

The new electronic visa waiver (EVW) will be available online free of charge and can be obtained by travelers up to 48 hours before departure. They will no longer need to provide biometric data, attend an appointment at a visa application center or hand in passports prior to travel.

The UK government said the Visa applications from UAE, Oman and Qatar are growing year on year. In 2012 there were 30,148 applicants in the UAE, 20,490 in Qatar, 12,596 in Oman, and 63,780 in Kuwait.

It said a record 530,000 visitors from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states went to Britain in 2012. Gulf tourists injected an estimated $2 billion into the UK economy that year.

“Visitors from the GCC spend an average of $3,417 per person per visit which is significantly above the spend from other country nationals,” the government reported, quoting VisitBritain.

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