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Tue 12 Aug 2014 10:50 AM

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Bahrain furious over exclusion from UK visa waiver

The kingdom’s Shura Council says it can’t understand why Oman, UAE & Qatar were given visa-waiver status but Bahrain was not

Bahrain furious over exclusion from UK visa waiver

Bahrain has said it will fight a UK decision not to include it in a list of Gulf states whose citizens no longer require a visitor’s visa, Gulf Daily News has reported.

The kingdom is furious passport holders from neighbouring states the UAE, Oman and Qatar no longer require a visa for a stay of up to six months, if they have completed an electronic visa waiver (EVW) form.

Bahraini diplomats and holders of "special passports", such as judges and government officials, are eligible for the EVW but average citizens are not.

Shura Council chairman Ali Saleh Al Saleh said it was “incomprehensible” that citizens of other GCC states were eligible for visa-free travel while Bahrainis were not.

“Bahrain has a longer and more prominent relationship with the UK than Oman and should have been offered the EVW, but I don't know why we don't have it and they do,” Saleh was quoted as saying.

The UK has had long-standing military and trade ties with Bahrain and has continued to support the rulers despite international allegations of alleged human rights abuses since an uprising in 2011.

"The issue is not being discussed and I think it is because it is not being covered by the media,” Al Saleh said.

"We, the Shura Council, are trying to get the visa-on-arrival for everyone.”

A spokeswoman for the UK Home Office declined to respond to GDN’s inquiries.

"The electronic visa waiver scheme was introduced for passport holders of Oman, Qatar, and the UAE following an increase in the demand for visas from their nationals over a number of years," the spokeswoman was quoted as saying.

"This is a new scheme, so a sensible, phased approach to implementation is being taken to ensure it operates smoothly.

"For all other countries and visa categories, there is currently no change - although we keep all visa arrangements under constant review to take account of changing circumstances."

According to figures compiled by the UK's Office of National Statistics as part of its annual International Passenger Survey, Bahrain residents visited the UK an estimated 30,000 times last year spending £2,094 ($3510) per visit on average, GDN said.

Meanwhile, residents of Qatar visited 61,000 times spending £2,930 per visit on average and UAE residents visited 262,000 times spending £2,008 per visit.

About 18,000 visits by Omani residents were recorded, with an average spend per visit of £4,905.

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RAH 6 years ago

Where does the Gulf Daily News article say Bahrain is "furious" exactly?

Or AB just allows their reporters to resort to sensationalism for the sake of readership numbers and advertising revenue increase?

I keep seeing a decline in AB's standards. Makes me wonder how low you guys are willing to stoop for the sake of increasing viewership (and consequently advertising revenue).

You put the UK's Daily Mail's tabloid tactics to shame.. and trust me, this is NOT a praise.