UAE set to bring in new visas system to boost economy, tourism

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The UAE said on Saturday it will bring in a new system for issuing and charging for visas from next month, aimed at boosting local economic and tourism growth.

The General Directorates of Residency and Foreign Affairs at the Ministry of Interior said it has completed its technical and services preparations to ensure a "flexible implementation of the new visa and fees system across the naturalization, residency and ports affairs sector".

It added in a statement that the new system will be applicable as of the beginning of August and would include new types of visas including multiple entry permits for visit or work, the activation of study visas, and entry permits for medical care and attending conferences.

Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, issued the ministerial decision which amends regulations on foreigners' entry and residence.

The Ministry of Interior said more details about the new visa fees would be available on its website within the next few days.

"This comes in response to community members needs and supports various activities," Major General Khalifa Hareb Al Khaili, acting assistant undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior for Naturalization, Residency and Ports Affairs, said, adding that the amendments "take into account the quality and development of services, in addition to meeting social requirements and activities in a way that supports various aspects of economic, touristic and social activities".

The new system also focuses on violators, he said.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the number of residency visas issued by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai increased by 30 percent on the same period for last year.

A total of 570,917 new residency visas issued in the first half of 2014, compared with 436,993 issued in 2013.

A total of 21,865,088 passengers entered and exited the country, compared with 20,219,288 in the first half of 2013.

In March, the UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that citizens of 13 European Union member states will be exempted from the need to acquire pre-entry visas to the UAE.

The exemption, which came into effect on March 22, affected Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia, Estonia, Malta, Cyprus, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.

As a result, citizens of all 28 countries in the EU will be allowed to enter the UAE without having to previously apply for a visa.

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